It's extra special for me this year as my daughter Mary Bennett Bracalente will be debuting!
|Mary Bennett Bracalente|
Jimmy Wood Photography - www.jimmywood.com
Originating from 17th Century European customs, the debutante was a young woman who was eligible for marriage, and part of the purpose was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select upper class circle. Things have changed and evolved over the centuries. I know all Fathers involved in this Debutante Season are not ready to "display" their daughters for marriage. Present day Debs are Sophomore college students who are making a formal debut into society, usually at a Cotillion. The Cotillion is a formal ball and social gathering for debutantes during the debutante seasons. So, to review so far: Ball, Cotillion, Club and Assembly all go hand in hand with deb-u-tante.
In Sumter and Clarendon counties in South Carolina we have the following clubs: The Lord Clarendon Cotillion, The Azalea Ball, The Camellia Ball, The Cotillion Club, The Epicurean Club, The Trian Club, The Carolinian Ball and The Sumter Assembly. Most clubs require "an invite" to join. Our club, The Carolinian, is no different. We know everyone in our club. Most are neighbors and all of the Debuting Debs and Sophomore Sons went to the same High School and are great friends.
The Trian Club
There is a rigid Dress Code for the Cotillions and that's where I come in, since I rent a lot of the tuxedos for this Black Tie event. Some gents, me included, like to break tradition. I like to see David Merchant stroll into the ballroom with his velvet jacket, or tartan trousers or yes, velvet slippers to lighten up the sea of penguins. This is for the Haberdasher, or the confident, not the beginner. My advice at C. Anthony's Menswear is by the book. If a gent is persistent to be different then let's roll with a vest or long black tie, but first we go by the rules.
White Tie - white tie means white tie. The Debutante's Father, the escorts, and the Sophomore Sons will wear tails (preferably peak lapel), white pique shirt & vest and patent leather shoes. White tie means tails, tails mean white tie. You would never wear a black tie with tails. Just as you would never wear a white tie with a dinner jacket.
The Camellia Ball
Guest Attire: First, the invitation is like a wedding invitation and should be answered immediately. The hosts have carefully invited you since there are usually only 4-8 guests allowed per debutante. These are mostly directed at single men or family. Let's keep your formal attire simple. Black tuxedo, black satin stripe pant, wing or regular collar white shirt, black bow tie and vest, wear a cummerbund - pleats always worn open side up. The open side up dates back to the time when tuxedos were worn regularly to dinner. The open pleats would catch the bread crumbs at dinner. Keep cuff links and studs simple - no whimsy.
So the Fathers, Escorts, and Sophomore Sons have assembled their black tie look, now it's time to head to the Cotillion to discover what joys will be waiting there. It goes like this: There will be a receiving line of Debutantes (they have never looked better) and their families (they have never looked better).
Lord Clarendon Cotillion
You yourself have probably never looked better. It feels good. You will be introduced and move on to the reception area to down a few toddies before a formal sit down dinner.
The Camellia Ball
KEEP THE CODE all evening gentlemen. Never remove your jacket or tie and please don't desert your date. Be attentive - stand when she stands, remove her chair, remove her coat, open her door, retrieve her drinks. Be attentive to the Debs - you would not be here if it wasn't for them. In other words, be a gentleman and hold your liquor. Stay away from your camera and for goodness sake leave your cell phone at home. Only leave when you date is ready and don't drink and drive. A limo is ok.
Get dialed up and ready to dance!
Happy Eating & dress well - Cheers!
Chip Bracalente - T.P.H.E