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Frank's Plea for Your New Year's Eve Outfit: Make an Effort

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

200 Cigarettes has it right, via Beauty Dart

Dear New Year's Eve Party Attenders,

Dress codes are, let's face it, a bit archaic. Take for example, the notion of a white tie formal event in which men don white bowties, tailcoats, and vests, and women can only wear long gowns—what deluded nutbag expects that of their guests? Just because you're getting married doesn't mean Downton Abbey is real.

Even black tie events are asking quite a lot—a baby step south of white tie, black tie requires your standard, non-penguin tuxedo. Dresses don't need to graze the floor but should be no shorter than knee length.

Point is: The whole dress code thing is practically moot. Everyone and everything is casual all the time. Many men think if their top has buttons they're dressed up. There are legions of woman who think leggings and a huge cotton top are evening appropriate as long as there's a heel or some twinkle of jewelry. And whether that's actually okay or not is also moot.

When it comes to real-life parties, more often than not you (normal you), will be asked to show up in informal or cocktail attire. First, it should be noted that informal is a bit of a misnomer—this isn't casual Friday. Rather, think of informal as semi-formal: Dark suits, a tie, evening-appropriate knee-length dresses. Cocktail basically means the very same thing; but there's a little wiggle-room for evening glitz or holiday personality or a bit of slink. Men might even be granted the option of wearing something that isn't black or white—liberating!

I bring all this up because New Year's Eve is upon us, once again. And, while dress codes do tend to be inapplicable to many of us, you still need to put a little effort in on New Year's. Do you really want to ring in 2013 wearing something you could show up to work in?

Last New Year's Eve I hosted a get-together in my home. I don't remember what exactly I put on the invitation but I remember requesting that people amp it up a bit. Wear something a little slutty; a little expensive; make it count. I expected my friends to get it—we mostly work in or around fashion and, if not, in the creative sector. We all care about clothes. We all have a sense of humor. And, mostly, people got it! There were sequins, there was a jumpsuit, there were holiday tartans and novelty blazers and animal prints and statement jewelry. There were labels; there was cleavage.

But there were also a few who didn't like being told what to wear. Didn't like being asked to wear something expensive or slutty. Thought it presumptous and a little shallow.

Well, guess what—it is presumptuous and a little shallow. But it's the host's party, and it's New Year's Eve—so suck it up and have a little fun (or keep it to yourself; or you could not come at all). No one's asking you to wear tails.

All said, if someone notes a dress code—even if it's totally stupid like "cowboy formal" or "casual chic" or "festive cocktail" (or "slutty/expensive")—just play along. Wear your favorite little black dress; wear that holiday velvet or Christmas plaid one last night; pile on the sparkle; wear your fur or something exotic. Just step it up! All those made-up New Year's dress codes mainly mean the same thing anyway: Look nice. A T-shirt isn't enough. At least something you're wearing should be dry-clean-only. Fake it.

You might have some fun. And you'll look great in photos.

· Love, Frank [Racked]