Dressing to Stuff Your Face Elsewhere

Feature image via cutefunysexyawful.com

It’s Thanksgiving and instead of cuddling up full of turkey at your parents’ house, you’re going somewhere else. Maybe you’re away at college and so you’ve been invited to a friend’s parents’ house. Maybe you’re a single grrl living in the city who’s just been invited to a chic all-lesbian Thanksgiving harvest festival. Or maybe, just maybe, you and your girlfriend are finally there in your relationship and you’re joining her family for turkey day. What the hell are you going to wear?

The most important part of figuring out what to wear to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving is asking them frankly what their crowd normally wears. It’s just as bad to show up to a PJs and football jersey feast in a suit as it is to arrive in ripped jeans only to be served cranberry cocktails and turkey pâté. Unfortunately, people have the tendency to reply to “What should I wear” with “Whatever you want.” This is perhaps the most annoying response on the planet. I suggest sneaking around this problem by asking things like “What did you brother/sister/cousin/step-uncle wear last year?” Better yet, ask to see photographic evidence from the previous year. Most of all, don’t assume just because your significant other/friend is comfortable dressing super casually in front of their family means you will be as well.

Perhaps I’m biased because I live in New England, but Thanksgiving has always had a super cozy feel to me. For a cozy femme look, I like to imagine what I might wear to go horseback riding in a fantasy world. Sweaters, wool socks, leggings and knee high boots. Plus, the leggings help with the overeating discomfort. Of course a scarf is always in order, but on Thanksgiving it’s double extra always in order. For a cozy masculine of center look, you can still wear a sweater, but over a button-up (collar in) with corduroys and loafers. You can even stash a bow tie in your pocket in case you arrive and things are fancier than you anticipated.

Don’t forget, however, to layer. You don’t know how someone else sets their thermostat, and you certainly don’t know how hot you’re going to be with a little red wine flush on. So do yourself a favor and create an outfit with a variety of warmth options.

If nothing else, wear dark colors. This has absolutely nothing to do with being appropriately dressed. It’s a spill factor insurance policy. Yes, you might spill and entire bowl of cranberry sauce on your lap, but at least if you’re wearing black slacks people might forget as the night wears on instead of subjecting you to repeated period jokes. You might get gravy down the front of your shirt, but that’s going to be a hell of a lot less obvious if you’re wearing a dark purple sweater.

Feeling nervous about an important holiday away from home is totally normal. Luckily, with a little finesse, you don’t have to feel nervous about your clothes. Just relax, do a little digging on the scene and keep it dark and cozy.

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. How did you know I’m having Thanksgiving with people I actually like for the first time this year? I hit up Goodwill the other day and found the best AE button-up and a grey sweater vest that looks fantastic over it, so I kind of want to wear that. However, I’m also considering one of my many Bill Cosby sweaters.

  2. Also “For a cozy femme look, I like to imagine what I might wear to go horseback riding in a fantasy world” is a lovely visual and will aptly describe my Thanksgiving ensemb (n: ɒnˈsɒm).

    I’ll probably go all out and wear a quiver full of arrows.

  3. Thank you for this! I have been invited to a friend’s parents house and I had no clue what to wear…

  4. I’m English so we don’t do Thanksgiving, but at Christmas I like to wear a super posh party dress over PJs. I have no idea why… but it makes me happy. The comfort of the PJs + the excitement of getting to wear a super posh dress that never gets worn because I don’t have super posh events to go to + the joy in how ridiculous I look. ‘Tis mega awesome y’all.

    • Same, I don’t really understand what this whole thing is, but I always need to know how to dress fancy, thank you.

  5. Now I really want to get an argyle sweater for my cat, but she already hates her hoodie and would probably murder me in my sleep if did it

  6. This post makes me want to go to Thanksgiving. The key issue here is that I live in Australia where there is no thanksgiving and it is quite warm, but you know what I can drink 4 glasses of wine wooooo. It is uni hols for me so all good but yes.

  7. Oooohh.. great ideas! I’m already mentally combing through my wardrobe as to what I can wear to this turkey-day brunch I’ve been invited to tomorrow. (:

  8. Does anyone have any tips for what significant others could bring as host/hostess gifts? My girlfriend’s coming to my family Christmas – first time she’s meeting everyone – and neither of us has any idea what she could bring!

    • When in doubt bring alcohol- preferably wine but its negotiable.

      Warning through, from previous experience, make sure whoever your giving the wine to (SO’s Parents(mother in particular) in my case) is not a recovering alcoholic.

  9. Lizz, I totally took your advice and went for a dark-colors-cozy-femme ensemble (horseback riding in a fantasy world) and my girlfriend’s mother was complimenting me on my outfit and said (I shit you not), “You look great, all you need now is a saddle and a trusty steed.” So, suffice it to say, I nailed it. Thanks!

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