As a party thrower, I love the idea of having a party dress code. The theory behind it? The party bears a sense of unity when attendees show up dressed for the occasion. It literally puts everyone on the same page. That’s a good start for getting people to mix freely.

You’ve just been invited to a party that has a dress code. What is your obligation for showing up as requested? What if I don’t like the request…or can’t afford it? How far do you go? Here are some suggestions for honoring a host’s request for particular garb.

[1] Be creative in your interpretation.

At this month’s Hobnob party theme, for instance, funky black tie is requested. Think about what elements constitute black tie—bow ties, tuxedo jackets, gowns, etc. Then take just one of those elements and add it to something you would usually wear. Maybe a vintage gown with black leggings and boots instead of strappy heels. Guys could just add a bow tie or tuxedo jacket to jeans and crisp white shirt.

I have a lot of creative friends, and get a real kick out of how they interpret my dress code requests. It definitely makes for great photography.

[2] What if you hate the dress code idea.

If the request goes beyond what you are willing to do, make just a little effort to comply. I asked everyone to wear white at one of my parties, and a friend who only wears black added a white belt to her ensemble. The same could have been done with nail polish or a piece of jewelry.

[3] Let you, be you. 

Whatever you choose to wear make sure it’s comfortable for you in every way: how it fits and how it represents your sense of style and personality. The more comfortable you are the more relaxed and confident you will be. Thus, the more fun you will have.