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1105 Dressing Appropriately for an Event

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,105 – Dressing Appropriately for an Event.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,105. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Take a look at our ESL Podcast Special Courses in Business and Daily English.

This episode is a dialogue between Patricia and Renaud about wearing the right clothes for a certain occasion or event. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Patricia: Hey, look at you! You’re all decked out. What’s the occasion?

Renaud: I’m going to the Ortegas’ party. Aren’t you?

Patricia: Yeah, but I’m not getting all dolled up for it. I think the dress is casual.

Renaud: I heard that it’s going to be an upscale affair, and I don’t want to be underdressed.

Patricia: But I’d rather not be overdressed.

Renaud: Okay, then what are you wearing?

Patricia: I’m going to dress up these jeans with a chic blouse. And then I’m going to accessorize with this necklace as a statement piece.

Renaud: That’s a nice outfit, but it’s more appropriate for a casual event, not a party.

Patricia: But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. This is not a formal affair.

Renaud: Do what you like, but I’m not going to risk being inappropriately dressed for one of the Ortegas’ parties. I don’t want to be blacklisted and not be invited in the future. Their parties are legendary, with the best food, the best booze . . .

Patricia: Oh, you’re right. What was I thinking?!

[end of dialogue]

Patricia begins our dialogue by saying, “Hey, look at you! You’re all decked out.” “To be decked (decked) out” means to be wearing very nice clothing, to be dressed up. If you’re a girl, it might mean to be wearing makeup and having your hair done a certain way, perhaps wearing certain jewelry. Normally “to be decked out” means to be dressed for a formal event, a formal occasion. In fact, Patricia asks Renaud, “What’s the occasion?” meaning what is the big event? What is the thing that you are dressed up for?

Renaud says, “I’m going to the Ortegas’ party. Aren’t you?” Patricia says, “Yeah, but I’m not getting all dolled up for it.” “To get dolled (dolled) up” for something means to get dressed up formally. Usually, however, we use this particular expression when we are referring to a girl or a woman. A man would not describe himself as getting “all dolled up.” Although I’m not sure of the exact origin of this expression, the word “doll” used to be used informally to refer to a woman, particularly a good-looking woman.

Patricia is not going to get all dolled up for this party at the Ortegas’. She says, “I think the dress is casual.” “Dress” (dress) here doesn’t refer to a particular kind of clothing that a girl or a woman would typically wear. It refers to a style of clothing – the kind of clothing that you would wear to a certain event or that would be worn by a certain group of people.

So when Patricia says, “The dress is casual,” she means that the way people will be dressing for this particular event will be casual. “Casual” (casual) here is the opposite of “formal.” In other words, it means “informal,” not formal. If you dress “casually” to an event, you are not going to wear your best clothes. You probably won’t wear a tie if you’re a man or a very nice dress if you’re a woman. Patricia thinks the majority of the people, anyway, going to this party are not going to be dressed formally, but rather casually.

Renaud says, “I heard that it’s going to be an upscale affair, and I don’t want to be underdressed.” Renaud has a different idea about this party. He says that he thinks it’s going to be an “upscale (upscale) affair” (affair). An “upscale affair” would be a very nice party or event, one for which people would dress very formally. People might also use this expression, an “upscale affair,” to describe an event where there’s nice food and drinks, where it takes place at a very nice room, such as at a hotel.

Renaud doesn’t want to be “underdressed” for this upscale affair. “To be underdressed” means to be dressed less formally than the people around you. So, if you go to a wedding and you’re wearing shorts and a T-shirt and everyone else is wearing a suit and a tie or a nice dress, you would be underdressed – you would not be dressed as formally as everyone else.

The opposite of being underdressed is what Patricia says in the very next sentence, which is “overdressed.” “To be overdressed” means to, say, go to the beach where everyone else is wearing a swimsuit, dressed as though you were going to a wedding – in a suit and tie, say. Patricia says, “But I’d rather not be overdressed.” She prefers not to dress too formally than to be dressed not formally enough. Renaud says, “Okay, then what are you wearing?” What clothing are you going to put on?

Patricia says, “I’m going to dress up these jeans with a chic blouse.” The two-word phrasal verb “to dress up” can mean a couple of different things. Here it means to wear a certain piece of clothing that would normally be considered casual and make it look more formal, perhaps by combining it with something nicer. So for example, a pair of blue jeans would normally be considered “casual dress,” but if you wanted to dress it up, you might wear a very nice shirt with it, or something else that would make it look a little more formal. That’s the meaning of “to dress up” here.

“To dress someone up” would mean to put clothing on someone, usually to make them look like someone else. In that particular meaning of the phrasal verb, we would usually follow it with “as.” “I’m going to dress up as a clown,” meaning I’m going to put on clothing that would make me look like a clown. Some people think I look like a clown even without putting on special clothing.

But Patricia isn’t going to dress up as a clown. She’s going to dress up her jeans “with a chic blouse.” A “blouse” (blouse) is a shirt that a woman wears. The adjective “chic” (chic) means fashionable or stylish, something that makes it look appealing – in this case, a little more formal. Patricia says, “And then I’m going to accessorize with this necklace as a statement piece.” “To accessorize” (accessorize) means to wear other things such as jewelry with your clothing to improve the appearance, to make it look better than it would otherwise.

Accessories include clothing, handbags, purses, scarves, belts, other things that people wear or use with their clothing to improve their appearance. Patricia is going to accessorize with a necklace. She calls the necklace a “statement piece.” A statement piece is usually a very large, unusual piece of jewelry or other accessory that typically a woman would wear as something to improve her look, her appearance. A statement piece often draws a lot of attention. It attracts your eye when you look at it.

Renaud says that he thinks what Patricia is wearing is “a nice outfit.” An “outfit” (outfit) here refers to a set of clothing – things that are worn together at the same time. A woman’s outfit might include a blouse and a skirt and a belt, perhaps a scarf around her neck – that would all be part of her outfit. Renaud thinks that Patricia’s outfit is nice. “But,” he says, “it’s more appropriate for a casual event, not a party.”

Patricia says, “But that’s what I’m trying to tell you.” “This,” meaning this party, “is not a formal affair.” Renaud says, “Do what you like, but I’m not going to risk being inappropriately dressed for one of the Ortegas’ parties.” He’s saying that he’s going to dress the way he wants and he’s going to ignore Patricia’s advice.

He continues, “I don’t want to be blacklisted and not be invited in the future.” “To be blacklisted” (blacklisted) is to be considered no longer welcome at a certain place, or to be “ineligible” – to not be able to get a certain job, even. It’s as if your name were put on a list of people who will no longer be invited to a certain kind of event.

That’s what Renaud is afraid of. He says the Ortegas’ parties “are legendary, with the best food, the best booze.” “Legendary” in this case means very well known in a positive way – admired or respected. “Booze” (booze) refers to alcohol. It’s an informal term for alcohol, or what we also call “liquor” (liquor).

Patricia says, “Oh, you’re right. What was I thinking?!” “What was I thinking” is a phrase used to show that you were wrong, that you had the completely wrong idea about something. Apparently Patricia realizes that she is wrong and agrees with Renaud – or at least, that’s the way it seems.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Patricia: Hey, look at you! You’re all decked out. What’s the occasion?

Renaud: I’m going to the Ortegas’ party. Aren’t you?

Patricia: Yeah, but I’m not getting all dolled up for it. I think the dress is casual.

Renaud: I heard that it’s going to be an upscale affair, and I don’t want to be underdressed.

Patricia: But I’d rather not be overdressed.

Renaud: Okay, then what are you wearing?

Patricia: I’m going to dress up these jeans with a chic blouse. And then I’m going to accessorize with this necklace as a statement piece.

Renaud: That’s a nice outfit, but it’s more appropriate for a casual event, not a party.

Patricia: But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. This is not a formal affair.

Renaud: Do what you like, but I’m not going to risk being inappropriately dressed for one of the Ortegas’ parties. I don’t want to be blacklisted and not be invited in the future. Their parties are legendary, with the best food, the best booze . . .

Patricia: Oh, you’re right. What was I thinking?!

[end of dialogue]

Her skills as a scriptwriter are legendary. I speak, of course, of the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
decked out – dressed up; wearing very nice clothing, jewelry, hair, and makeup

* All the actors and actresses were decked out for the movie premiere.

dolled up – dressed up when describing a girl or woman; wearing very nice clothing, jewelry, hair, and makeup

* The teenage girls got dolled up for their first high school dance.

dress – a certain style of clothing; the type of clothing typical of a certain group of people

* Jeans, plaid shirts, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats are all important parts of Western dress.

casual – informal; appropriate for time away from the office and formal events

* Coming to work in shorts and a tank top is far too casual. Go home and change before the boss sees you.

upscale affair – an elegant event intended for people who dress nicely, often to enjoy good and expensive food and drinks

* They want to get married on the beach, but their parents are trying to plan an upscale affair at a five-star hotel.

underdressed – dressed poorly compared to others; dressed informally when everyone else at a particular event is dressed much more formally

* Bankers usually wear suits, so if you want to work there you have to make sure you aren’t underdressed for the interview.

overdressed – dressed too nicely compared to others; dressed formally when everyone else at a particular events is dressed much less formally

* Jenna wore a cocktail dress to the party, but she felt overdressed when she realized it was a pool party and saw everyone else wearing shorts and swimsuits.

to dress up – to make a piece of clothing appear nicer, more formal, or more expensive by combining it with other, more elegant items

* You can dress up jeans and a plain t-shirt by wearing a scarf, some nice jewelry, and high-heeled shoes.

chic – fashionable and in style; clothing or accessories considered desirable and appealing

* Those shoes are so chic! Where did you buy them?

to accessorize – to use jewelry, handbags, scarves, belts, and similar items to improve the appearance of one’s clothing

* The singer accessorized her simple black dress with a long gold necklace, hanging earrings, and a white belt.

statement piece – a very large, unusual, bold, and eye-catching piece of jewelry or other accessory that attracts a lot of attention

* A woman would need to have a lot of confidence to wear that bright orange necklace as a statement piece!

outfit – the set of clothes that are worn together at the same time

* This pink shirt and that blue skirt would make such a cute outfit with those sandals!

formal – elegant; not casual; appropriate for an official, refined, or elegant situation

* They sent out formal wedding invitations with thick cotton paper and gold-colored ink.

to blacklist – to add someone’s name to a list of people who should not be trusted or should not be given opportunities to participate in something

* Harold fears that if he speaks openly about his company’s fraud, he’ll be blacklisted and never find a job in the industry again.

legendary – very well known in a positive way; admired, respected, and remembered fondly

* Luis is a legendary racecar driver and admired by racing fans around the world.

booze – alcohol; liquor

* This is a typical party given by Gwen, full of booze and loud music.

what was (one) thinking – a phrase used to show that one was incorrect and had completely the wrong idea

* Did you hear that Jason gave his girlfriend a live spider for Valentine’s Day? What was he thinking?

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these events does not require getting dolled up?
a) A casual party.
b) An upscale affair.
c) A formal event.

2. According to Renaud, what is so great about the Ortegas’ parties?
a) They serve great alcohol.
b) They help everyone rest and relax.
c) They have wonderful live music.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
dress

The word “dress,” in this podcast, means a certain style of clothing: “Our store has detailed rules regarding an employee’s dress while working.” When talking about items of clothing, a “dress” is a single piece worn by a woman, like a shirt and a skirt that are connected: “The little girl liked wearing pants, but her mother insisted on putting her in a dress to go to church.” The phrase “to dress down” means to wear clothes that are less formal than the ones one normally wears: “Each Friday, the office employees are allowed to dress down to come to work.” Finally, when talking about the theater, a “dress rehearsal” is the last practice before the show is performed in front of an audience. “During the dress rehearsal, the actors will be wearing all of their costumes and using all the props and lighting effects.”

affair

In this podcast, the phrase “upscale affair” means an elegant event intended for people who dress nicely, often to enjoy good and expensive food and drinks: “The art gallery opening was an upscale affair, with well-dressed buyers tasting cheese and wine as they admired the sculptures.” The word “affairs” ca refer to politics and activities related to politics: “What are the responsibilities of the department of foreign affairs?” When talking about relationships, an “affair” is a secret, sexual relationship when at least one of the people is married to another person: “Could you forgive your husband if you found out he was having an affair?” Finally, the phrase “to be (one’s) affair” means to be one’s business when talking about things that should not interest other people: “What I do in my free time is my affair.”

Culture Note
Used Clothing

In the United States, many people like to buy “used clothing” (clothing that has been worn by other people, but can still be used by others). Some people do it to save money, but others do it to find interesting “pieces” (items of clothing) for their “wardrobe” (all the clothes that one owns).

Some people buy used clothes at “garage sales” (when people sell things they no longer need on their driveway or front lawn), but it is usually easier to find good used clothing at a “resale store.” At a resale store, people sell their used clothing to the storeowner. Some stores give people cash for their used clothes, but other stores have people sell “on consignment,” meaning that the people receive money only when someone buys their clothing. “Vintage stores” are stores that specialize in selling clothing from a particular time period that has recently “come back in style” (become popular or fashionable again).

People who are willing to do more “digging” (searching) might go to “thrift stores,” where items are less expensive. These stores sell clothes and other items that other people have “donated” (given for free, without receiving a payment) to support “charitable causes” (efforts to help other people). For example, organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army operate thrift stores and use the “proceeds” (money earned from sales) to support “job-placement programs” (programs to help people find jobs) for disabled people, help the homeless, protect “victims” (people who have suffered from something) of “domestic violence” (physical injury caused by family members), and others “in need” (needing help).

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a