Privilege Blog

Can I Wear Pants To A Somewhat Elegant Baby Shower?

I don’t know how the rest of you midlifers feel, but I confess that when my children were big but not grown up, every passing pregnant woman surprised me.

“What? People are still procreating? Aren’t we done?”

I wouldn’t say it to anyone’s face, of course. But one’s own child-rearing is so all-involving, it seems like no other other baby might ever need to be born. Fortunately untrue. People have babies every day, they adopt babies, they create families.

Which means, among other things, baby showers.

A reader wrote to say she would be attending a shower at a modern, luxurious, but casual suburban restaurant. Asked if I had any ideas about an outfit, and wondered, among other things, could she wear pants?

Yes and yes. But let’s look at the Use Case. The context. The shower is a lunch event end of May/beginning of June, held in a restaurant located in an affluent suburb, celebrating a good friend of a younger generation. The mother-to-be’s family comes from a culture that is often – although one should never generalize too broadly – comfortable with color.

Now think about baby shower logistics. They are peculiarly seated affairs. You sit at a table, or you sit on a sofa. You watch the mother-to-be open presents. Seated anywhere, I am more comfortable in pants myself.

So let the top half carry the party.

Wear your pants, a patterned blouse, and a necklace. Noticeable earrings feel either too romantic or too professional to me. I don’t know why. I’d want a blouse with a few frivolous, girly touches. Motherhood’s a fairly female state, we return to her community of women over and over.

What pants should you wear? At this moment in sartorial history, anything you dang well please. However, this is one of the very few occasions for which I would not choose jeans, even in California. Well, perhaps an exception for white or pastel jeans, depending on the formality of the location and the host.

As always, consider proportion and color. I will refer everyone for the umpteenth time to Imogen’s blog for palette and body shape science.

Here’s an example of one simple patterned blouse, worn three ways.

Untitled #202


  1. Bring a little city to the suburbs in khakis, bold gold-tone jewelry, and tan leather wedges accented with black and white snakeskin.
  2. In mixed pastels, you edge South, to southern states and southern climes. Tinkle and chime a bit as you walk.
  3. And, for the Sturdy Gals who don’t want to offend anyone but just can’t bear a fuss, white pants, gold sandals, simple necklace with a complementary-colored pendant. Even Jackie O. says you’re done.

The reader in question wears clear, light blue-toned hues. Here are some fancier, more frivolous blouses and accessories that might work for her.

I wish the young mother joy, along with a whole gang of loving supporters.

21 Responses

  1. Love, “What pants should you wear? At this moment in sartorial history, anything you dang well please.” Agree jeans would be too casual. Though it’s not the kind of shoe I usually wear, I’m enchanted by the Trump “Geava” floral pump. I’d like to see that with your white pant (in an ankle or cropped length) and a blue linen top that complements the shoes by someone such as Carole Lee Shanks. I tried to find an example, but Carole Lee’s site is more (beautifully) artsy than informative, which makes it hard to see how everyday wearable many of her pieces are. Here is a linen top in blue that suggests what I’m talking about.

    1. @Katherine C. James, Thank you for imagining ways for me to wear new shoes;). In reality, that tunic would be over the Artsy edge for me. I’ve also realized that I like volume in skirts and pants, but not so much in my tops. I’m sure there’s a reason for it, but I’m not sure what. Fear of fabric catching in machinery I never use?!?!

  2. I’m so impressed by the effort you went to for this. What a nice person! Where I live, scraping one’s boots before entering such a restaurant is considered dressy enough.

    1. @Mary anne, Thank you. I can’t take credit for being nice, however, only for thinking that the question and its answer might be of use to a wider audience;).

  3. Thank you for letting me imagine what it must be like to wear colorful floral shoes.: ) Currently, if I’m being really crazy my espadrilles have blue stripes. I almost mentioned that the top was clearly in artsy territory, I think I must be on the cusp of classic and artsy, or something like that, because I would wear the top. I like a fuller top with a tailored pant or skirt, or a streamlined top, with more volume in my pants. I don’t feel comfortable with a fitted top and pant and skirt.

  4. An addendum: After getting an Elsa Peretti gold heart on a long chain caught in a printer at a tech company—a nearby co-worker swiftly rescued me—I am wary of combining long jewelry and clothing with volume, and any machines.

  5. These outfit ideas are 11/10 and so perfect for perching on a sofa while watching the present-opening. The blouse choices are all so lovely!

  6. Lisa, you must must see a pair of Vince navy crops (very dressy crops) with white bands down both sides.
    They are awesome. I love what you’ve chosen. You know I don’t wear jeans at all, for anything. So I have 50 pair of pants, chinos, slacks, silk joggers, etc. and can pair them with a brilliant top & jacket and go almost anywhere (except to Mass). Weddings, wedding events, big elegant luncheons, showers…those are the occasions most women are baffled by. Good post !!!

  7. I’m not sure what you’re alluding to in the “culture comfortable with color” phrase, so I’m going to assume that the party is set in the South where ladies who lunch might go bright.

    If I had a cocktail ring that went with my outfit I might break it out for such an event. A Grand mom aged guest can never approximate the youthful glow of a mom to be, so a little extra sparkle is nice.

    1. @RoseAG, I’m thinking of the entire Southern Hemisphere! A cocktail ring would be really fun, if one can wear it comfortably.

  8. Hmm. I attended my niece’s bridal shower in March. It was held in an upscale Chicago neighborhood. (We had a lovely view of Lake Michigan from our hostess’s living room.) Of the twenty or thirty guests, I can remember only one in pants. The rest wore dresses. Perhaps a regional difference? Or city versus suburb? Or bridal showers are more formal than baby showers?

    1. @Sewing?obrarian, Maybe a Midwest thing, as you say? Or the group itself? But, I agree that pants are the more usual choice. The thing is, for those of us who really prefer pants, the degree of discomfort for sitting in a dress, particularly on a sofa, is high enough that we feel less uncomfortable being the odd one out.

  9. Hello! I love your blog. I can only see the one outfit, with the 3 options, am I missing a link? Thanks for writing.

  10. I’m partial to white jeans (super-duper clean!) and a pretty blouse, myself. I love the MJM jewelry and India Hicks letter necklaces. (As an aside, a friend of mine is traveling with India and photographing her on tour for her breakout accessories line. I’ve been excitedly watching her Instagram feed!)

  11. Thanks so much, as ever Lisa for sharing my blog! I really do appreciate your support. Baby showers – there is something I’ve not thought about for a long time!

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