Paris being Paris, it is always possible to find a decent, even delicious dinner Sunday evening, but many bistros and restaurants are closed.
Never mind. You have plans. You have been invited to a dinner party chez des amis who have a divine apartment in the Seventh Arrondissement that their family has owned for generations.
Translation: Huge, with its original parquet Versailles (it does squeak and moan beneath the feet); a massive Baccarat chandelier, recently — that could mean 100 years ago — wired for electricity; fussily charming moulures; and museum worthy rugs and furnishings. As for the table linens, silver, crystal from St. Louis, and the porcelain. . .well, you get the idea.
(The kitchen was completely redone and features the ultimate aesthetic experience combined with modern, professional appliances and the latest culinary accessories because, obviously, both of your friends are extraordinary cooks.)
The only information you have been given is that you will be 10 for dinner, one French couple, one English couple, you and another American couple, and your French hosts. Dinner is at eight. You will therefore arrive about 8:15-ish.
Your hostess did not utter the word casual. Therefore you must dress. Still, it’s a bit of a challenge. Stay with me. . .
You will not under any circumstances arrive at the door with a massive bouquet although you could have sent flowers from a chic Parisian florist to your friends’ apartment yesterday. In that way there would be time for her to arrange a bouquet. Barring that gesture, a very good bottle of wine is acceptable, but the best last minute hostess gift that never offends and always pleases is a box of chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat, Pierre Hermé, Michel Chaudan, or Debauve & Gallais for example.
The best thing about arriving with chocolates is that the hostess always (usually) opens them and offers them to her guests with coffee in the salon.
That’s settled, but the biggest challenge remains. What to wear? How does one translate the unspoken directive and subtle clues of your hosts when all they’ve said is: “Dinner at eight; we’re so looking forward to seeing you again.”
This is where I come in. I know exactly what you should wear. I’ve been in this situation many, many times and you know me well enough now to also know I’ve done my homework and studied the competition.
I’ve got you covered.