My husband and I are doing a 21 day Asian cruise on the Diamond Princess, but we have pre and post trips planned as well. Luggage is a problem on the land portions of our vacation because we are allowed only about 40 pounds each. I don't see how we can bring a suit and dress shoes for my husband, or formal outfits for me, and keep within our limit. We have chosed free style cruising and hope that we can avoid formal requirements. Any suggestions?
For you a nice pair or black pants and a few dressy blouses or tops. I suggest black pants so that this way you can wear them a few times. For your husband maybe the same idea only a couple of dress shirts and bring a couple of ties. Most men take off their suitcoat when they eat anyway so just forget about bringing one. If you are wearing sneakers for example, pack 1 pair of dressy/casual shoes. My DH has casual slipons that are also okay when he's dressed up. Me and my kids call them his "church shoes".
Princess offers formal wear rental on the ship. They have tuxes and shoes for men and dresses for women -- I'm not sure about the shoes. You'll find this information in the brochure you get from Princess after booking the cruise. It sounds like a spacesaving idea for you.
Diverbl--on our cruise I saw more men without suitcoats then with in the dining room. Even my DH took his off shortly after we were sat as did 2 of the three guys at our table. Since I am a female, I assumed this was normal male behavior. But I'm a girl, what do I know.
As far as the original topic at hand, I find it useful in these situations to either aquire the needed clothing at my destination so I don't have to carry/pack it (rent from the ship), or simply wear the item (wear the trousers and jacket with a sports shirt - pack the tie and dress shirts). Getting a single suit to Asia in one piece without it becoming a complete mess should be pretty easy if you wear it (and you can always have it cleaned and pressed once there if necessary).
You must be careful not to equate the observed situation, with correct behavior.
I don't dispute the possibility that most men can be seen eating without their jackets. I haven't noted this myself in formal situations, but we'll go with your observation for the moment. If true, you can merely add this to a long list of things that most people now do that were not considered appropriate in the past (not always distant past).
The REAL question in any social situation is how strictly you want to maintain tradition and how willing you are to toss tradition to the wind for the sake of, say, comfort.
Historically (meaning in the more distant past) shirts were considered an undergarment and jackets were NOT to be removed in the presence of a lady, and certainly not without asking permission first. It's really been the evolution of modern clothing styles (i.e. sport shirts) that has changed the shirt from an undergarment to acceptable outer wear. Pretty much nobody considers a shirt and undergarment these days. HOWEVER, the rule remains, rightly or wrongly, that in polite society a gentleman does not remove his coat automatically whever he feels like it. Though you will see individuals defy this rule, it IS considered low-class to take off your jacket in a very formal restaurant and eat in your shirt and tie. I'm betting if a man did this in some restaurants, he would at least look very out of place, and perhaps may be asked to replace it. I would question, however, whether men who do this (remove their jacket) do this as an "I'll do what I want" action, or simply because they don't know they shouldn't. Based on my own experience, and in reading posts here, I would conclude that most men simply don't have a clue anymore about what is customarily acceptable and what is not. The majority is ruling, and the majority is mostly clueless: Lots of men think they can get a proper shave from an electric razor - that doesn't make it true.
Now as far as a cruise ship, this is really a casual atmosphere with lots of people who are in full casual mode. The formal nights on a cruise ship, I think, are less in the vein of a real black tie event, and more in the vein of a costume party. The dressing up is more for the fun of it, than for real formality. That said, people who DO dress down of formal nights because they "hate formality," lessen the illusion for the rest of us. There is little to put a greater damper on a costume party, than an entire group of people who show up in normal clothes. Dressing up (whether dinner jacket or suit) is part of the fun and illusion. It makes "formal night" that much more fun for those of us that participate. To me, the reason to participate is not so much to dress up in my fancies solely for my OWN enjoyment, but to play the game with others. It has nothing to do with being "forced" to dress up or having to wear a suit while on vacation (hell, I can do that at home). It has to do with re-creating a fantasy world of being on a cruise 100 years ago! The age of wearing a dinner jacket (tux) out of social neccessity is mostly gone, which is also what makes it fun.
I see people in suits all the time. I eat with people in and out of suits all the time. Attire has nothing to do with eating. I think we all know this. So why get dressed up for dinner? Because everyone else is and it's a great time to create an atmosphere that doesn't really exist for most of us in our real lives. It's just plain fun! And since you can now get a (nice) complete tuxedo outfit from JC penny for about $130 (minus the shoes) it's cheap too. I'd like to see more people dress up and participate in the game, rather than show up in their khakis pretending that they are the fun-loving ones!
Besides, the man who does not look better in a PROPERLY FITTED AND WORN tux is rare indeed. Most men should be dying to put on the black tie, as they will never look better, and really is no more uncomfortable than any appropriate dressed-up attire. Any woman here will likely back up the statement that they wish THEY could look so automatically good in public, simply by putting on a simple, pretty much slob-proof, suit that looks exactly like everyone else's. Men have it easy in the formal wear department - I'm surprised it's such a fight with so many of them.
My husband never takes his suit jacket off. The last dinner party we went to there were about 300 people there and it was about half on and half off. There was a gentleman who also had suspenders and took his jacket off.
we are going on carnival cruise with family of 11 in july to the western carribean. we were just talking last night aabout whether my husband should take his black blazer or just take dress shirts and a couple of ties for formal night. i am inclined to go with just the ties and dress shirts. from what i am hearing no one on carnival is going to come up to him and say anything ,nor is the rest of the dining room going to look that different from him. probably we will see more people dressed down casually on those formal nights.
Andre--I read most of your post but my eyes went buggy because it's so long. Anyway, like I said before, I'm a girl so I don't know the rules for male dressing. We were on a Carnival cruise and it is probably more casual than other cruise lines. I think as long as the clothes fit properly, are neat and clean, don't have holes in them, do not have offensive sayings on them, people should be comfortable in what they wear. Of course if we went to a 5 star restaurant, a formal wedding or were on a more luxury cruise, I would suggest to my DH that he leave his suitcoat on. I love to get dressed up but my DH isn't so eager to do this especially on vacation. Which is a shame because with a few exceptions, all men look better all dolled up. <VBG>
BTW--what do you do for work? You seem very professional.
Betsy- you mentioned that you are going on Princess, just so that you know, the dress code for the evening applies to all the dining rooms, Anytime and Alternative. the only area that is casual is the buffet.
Also you will find that the passengers on longer cruises tend to get dressed up more than those on 7 day Caribbean cruises for example.
Since luggage is a problem, i would serioulsly look into renting formal wear for men and women.
Belive it or not, I DO have a pair of toe socks from the halcyon days of college, when such things were all the rage. And they still fit. (Seems like my feet are the only part of me that can comfortably wear clothes from 25 years ago!)
As for formal night on my upcoming cruise with my 2 sons (16 and 14) on the Victory (June 26 - say hi if you are cruising with us) - look for us in our classic Tuxedos.
My younger does want to get crazy on the second formal night, and wear a tie/cummerbund in other than black, which I suppose will be fine.
I am looking forward to some nice portrait photos of the three of us.
I am renting tuxes for the boys on board; I will bring my own with me.
Well, at least it's nice to know, Andre, that you'll be wearing "something" under your raincoat. Whew!!!! For a minute there, I thought we would have a completely different kind of show on our hands. <VBG>