how to be a little social butterfly

by gilda rêvasseur on June 10, 2008

i love attending parties, as i’m sure many of you do. everyone loves to have a good time. while you can make everyday a little fun party, just like i do (after all, what’s the point of living if you aren’t enjoying every moment?), it’s great to have a real big party once in a while.

i’m not the most social of people. by that, i don’t mean that i don’t want to make new friends and connections. i mean, i’d like to think of myself as really friendly, and i have no problems smiling and making stupid jokes. but to be honest, there’s a very shy side of me that i try to hide and not show people, but this part of me unfortunately emerges everytime i meet someone for the first time. i truly admire people who can hit it off with anyone, people who can make conversation about anything under the sun, with people of all walks and ages. i think that that in itself is a true art-form, and something i hope to master in the years to come. i want to be that someone, but in the meantime i’m still really bad at making small-talk, although i try, i really do!!

sometimes, you hit it off with someone immediately, and sometimes, you don’t. to me, that’s the most nervous part of any party – socializing!!

so this is a little guide to going to parties, for all the little social butterflies in all of us… (even if our knees were shaking.

first things first
you got invited to a party. woohoo!!! first of all, assuming that you do want to attend, make sure that you rsvp. rsvp is french for répondez s’il vous plaît, which basically translates to “gimme a response asap and don’t make my life difficult.” there really is nothing worse than having guests who don’t rsvp. it’s terrible for the host not to know how many people to prepare for, so don’t be a little devil. respond the moment you decide!

your plus one (or two or three?)
before you send in your “yes, i wanna go go go!”s, check the invitation to see if it includes a ‘plus one’. if it doesn’t, check with the host if you can bring a friend or two along, then rsvp for them too. never be one of those idiots who turn up at a party with gate-crasher friends who aren’t on the guest list. it’s just rude. it will great if your other half or best friend can attend the party with you. after all, you’ll be the most comfortable with them, which will help calm any nerves! if you’re single, and if your best friend lives half-way across the world, bring along a friend whom you know will be fun to have around. someone whom you can have a good laugh with, someone to call and ask, “wait! what are you wearing!!”, someone you can have proper conversations with, just in case the party turns out to be a complete snore.

oh my god i have nothing to wear!!
although this is a line i repeat like an addict on crack before every single party or event that i attend, i usually do have something to wear. (don’t lie – so do you!) even if i really don’t have anything in my closet that is suitable, i usually know immediately what kind of outfit i want to have on. here are some points to consider:

what is the dress-code that’s written on the invitation?
most invites would include a dress-code as a guide-line for what you should wear. here’s a simple guide to what the common ones mean:

  • black tie is as formal as formal gets. men should be in their tuxedos, and the ladies should be decked in evening dresses (or at least cocktail dresses, but nothing casual), or evening separates. formal is basically like black tie, but if people are younger and trendy, men could probably get away with a very nicely pressed shirt and no tie. there are also white tie events, where the boys are decked out in very formal, all-white attires. i generally take black tie to mean darker outfits, and white tie to mean white. girls should really be in evening dresses.
  • semi-formal means the boys can get away with a regular suit, and a tuxedo isn’t necessary. girls could be in either evening or cocktail dresses.
  • if the dress-code is smart casual, basically it’s a slightly more dressed-up version than regular casual clothes. which probably means a suit jacket thrown over jeans for the guys, (and i mean well-cut, quality denim that have no holes and isn’t worn), and for her, perhaps a dressy pants with some sexy heels.
  • casual usually means “whatever”, but it still is a party and i never want to be the one in slippers. it all still depends on the venue, but if you can, try to add one dressy item to your outfit. maybe it could be some really patent flats, or great accessories!
  • costume or theme parties are my absolute favorite. you can’t go wrong if you pile it on and really go over-the-top. the more the merrier!!! go crazy and have fun!!! you’ll have a ball. by the way, don’t be a party-pooper. at least attempt to go in something costume-y, even if you aren’t in the mood.

if dress codes aren’t specified, here are some things to consider when choosing your outfit

who is the host?
if the host is someone who loves to have fun, you could probably really play it up. it it’s someone like, your boss for example, erm, just don’t go too crazy!

where is the venue?
if it’s outdoors, you probably want to consider the weather. if it’s at the beach, on the sand, leave those heels at home. if it’s at a club, bring on the glitz and cute heels!

what is the party for?
if there is actually a purpose for the party, be sure to dress accordingly. consider the overall crowd and also how old they might be.

most importantly, wear something that represents you
first impressions count, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just in denial. if this is a company party and you want to impress your boss, make sure you are in something that says, “this is me. i am strong, creative, responsible, i can rule the world.” wear something smart and sharp! what you wear, especially when you’re meeting people for the first time, should really tell a story about who you are. i cannot emphasize that enough!! if you’re like me and regularly take photos of your regular outfits, you can look through them and see for yourself what suits you and what doesn’t. it isn’t really that hard to find a style that is “you”.

what to bring
well i’ve never seen guys going to parties with a bag, so if you’re a guy you probably shouldn’t either. name cards, your wallet, and other minimal necessities should all be able to fit into your pockets. girls should probably stick to a small-ish bag. i don’t believe that your bag has to match your outfit. and if you only have a simple ensemble, you can definitely make a statement with your accessories!! you can find some perfect bags for parties at femme sud. they’re amazing and will definitely help start some conversations! remember to throw in some blotters, a gloss and/or lipstick, or better yet, a product that has multiple uses! i love stila‘s convertible color and the multiple by nars. and don’t forget your name cards, cell, some cash, a credit card, and some kind of identification. and perhaps a little digital camera! of course, the party invitation too. you might also consider bringing along something for the host, especially if it’s a house party or something that isn’t paid for by a company! wine or champagne are probably good choices!

navigate the crowd
like i mentioned, i’m not very great at small talk and i find it hard sometimes to talk to people who are strangers. if you’re like me, you know how painful awkward silences can be. having just a little bit of mental preparation can save you from sweating buckets!

do your homework
did you know that geishas are probably some of the most intelligent people around? well, at least i think so. many people have the wrong impression that they are just for entertaining, and some even liken them to prostitutes. however, geishas go through years and years of hard work and training before they can even become geishas. not only are they trained in things like dance, musical instruments, singing, tea ceremonies, and language, they also have wide worldly knowledge of current affairs and history. so geishas are actually really intelligent, witty people, who have the ability to converse about a wide range of topics. there is something that we can learn from that. and if the people attending the party are going to be the kind who will talk about current affairs, i do suggest at least reading the headlines of the newspapers, and forming a couple of opinions.

greet your host
when you first get to the party, find the host and greet him/her first. if you don’t know anyone, they might be able to introduce you to someone who you might click with. however, don’t glue yourselves to them. they’re busy!

warm up
if you’re alone and there’s someone else in the room who’s standing by him/herself, go up to them and introduce yourself. you can be totally honest too! if you’re alone and feeling kinda nervous, there’s no harm in admitting that. the regular small talk could be questions like how they know the host, what they do, where they’re from, etc. if you’re feeling nervous, it’s better to ask the questions and let the other person answer! that way, you can pick up topics from their answers, and give your own statement, or ask another connecting question. take it one step at a time! unless it’s a party for the office, try to stay away from boring topics like work, and taboo things like religion and politics. i don’t like to talk about work too much because it’s a party and everyone’s there to have fun. who wants to think about work!! of course, if you and the other person seems very passionate about their job, let the conversation flow. i also personally never talk about politics nor religion because those are things that start wars and you don’t want to trigger one.

first introductions
reserve your hugs and kisses for people who you already know. otherwise, if greeting someone for the first time, a firm handshake and a smile is really important. especially if you’re a guy… there’s nothing i hate more than shaking some dude’s hand and realizing i’ve got a harder grip than his limp…hand. ask for their name, and repeat it so that you’ll remember it! exchange name cards if the occasion calls for it. and don’t forget their names nor lose their cards! especially if it is someone you want to get to know better. i sometimes quickly type a note into my cell with important details like name, number, company name, etc.

when in doubt
when you can’t think of anything, you could always talk about the food, the music, or how great that cocktail is. you can compliment the other person about themselves. everyone loves a little compliment. it also provides an overall ease to your conversation. just make sure you mean it!! it could be about their outfit, their shoes, the way they did their hair, or how great their smile is. people love hearing and talking about themselves. when you get nervous, close your eyes for a split second, and take a deeeeep breathe. i guarantee it will make you feel loads better. stand up tall and drop your shoulders! you’ll be fine!

be genuine
don’t lie, because people aren’t dumb. don’t load on the compliments, or you’ll just appear really fake. be nice, and listen more than you talk! also, if you’re talking in a group, it’ll be great if you would include others, especially people who are by themselves, into your conversation!

be open
although it’ll be great to find people who have the same interests, be open to meeting different groups of people. you’ll be surprised how much you might have in common with someone younger, and how easy it might be to talk to someone who’s older. i know people who would never dream of making friends with someone twice their age, or be caught talking to some “kid”. that’s just the wrong attitude, at a party and in life.

if you need to escape
sometimes, you might get unlucky and run into a real creep. or someone who’s just insulting. don’t feel like you have to talk to someone who you don’t want to. smile, say “it was nice talking to you”, and walk away!

people-watch
if you ever get tired of mingling, there’s always the option of finding a little nook of your own and people-watch! i love people-watching. you can learn a lot about people by just watching how they behave and interact with others. and i love people-watching because that also translates into looking at what they wear!! (i am a fashion designer after all.) you can walk around slowly and look at people, or better yet, find a spot that overlooks the entire party! if you’re like me and you love taking pictures, you could even go up to people who have interesting outfits on, and ask with a smile if you can take their picture!! most people would willingly oblige. your camera could also be a good conversation starter!

try not to get drunk
nothing’s worse than some ass who is puking all over the place. make sure you know your alcohol limits and for goodness’ sakes, stop before you make a fool of yourself. if you’re no good with drinks, there’s nothing embarrassing about having a non-alcoholic drink in your hands. and you don’t have to give a hoot when someone’s pressuring you to drink when you don’t want to. learn how to say no!

what to do with your hands
most people shake hands with their right hand, so you’re holding a drink, keep it on your left hand. keep your right hand free to wave or shake hands with, and also to eat. that said, stay away from oily food or things that have drippy sauces. no one wants to shake an oily hand, and you don’t want anything dripping on your outfit. and whatever you do with your hands, don’t cross it. you’ll be known as the little anti-social sulker.

smile and have a good time!
be confident and just smile. make silly jokes and laugh about it. after all, it’s a party and you should be having fun! nothing is more attractive than someone who’s all smiles and someone who’s having a good time. dance to the music if you want to, or just sway along and bob your head if you’re all left-foot, like me! haha. i believe that music is only music when you hear it with your heart. even if the beat and rhythm that you’re hearing is different from everyone else, so what? you’ll only look silly if you think you’re looking silly. and anyone who sniggers at you when you make some funny dance move is an ass and should be ignored. let free, and let yourself move along to whatever it is you’re feeling!

leave when you should
finally, leave when it’s time to go. don’t overstay your welcome, unless you want to help clean up. find your host and thank him/her for a lovely time, say your goodbyes to everyone and head home. (or out for more drinks! heh heh.)

and remember, boys and girls, leave your car at home if you’re planning to drink. and never sit in in the car of someone who has had a drink. you don’t want to die, neither do you want to kill some innocent passer-by!! it’s irresponsible and stupid, and your mother taught you better.

more reading for the nosey parkers:
how to make a great first impression
5 awesome and 5 awful conversation topics

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Fabulously Broke June 10, 2008 at 11:47 am

I LOVE the new layout!

oh and I’m linking to this post in my next round of link love – you have some fab tips in here

Reply

Marie June 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Thank you so much for your comment!

Wonderful article! I never think I have anything to wear. Mostly because I dress up for mundane activities.

Also, shaking hands with your left hand is a skill i have mastered simply because I always forget the “drink in the left hand rule”.

Reply

Lady Julianne le Fay June 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Great post, Gilda! Really useful for me, too, I am rubbish at this social butterfly stuff.

Reply

The Clothes Horse June 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I want to go party now! If only you had tips on how to score the invite!

Reply

Aelia June 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Haha thanks! It means the house of fashion (in Urdu) and btw I am (secretly) royalty as well :P

xx – A

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Julie June 10, 2008 at 4:41 pm

XDDD That is great advice, specially the drunk thing. You definitely don’t want to be remembered as the drunk one at a party.

I’m not very social either but I try to make the best I can from every party. I always try to strike a conversation with someone new, specially if there are people I dislike at the party.

Kisses.

Reply

Hail Mary June 11, 2008 at 8:13 pm

Aughhh perfect
I am so socially awkward, and I definately utter I have nothing tow ear FAR to much.
So well written!

Reply

mrbherng June 11, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Your party sounded like some high end kind of party. The only party that I know off here in the UK (not that I like it) is those held in clubs and it seemed more antisocial than social since you can never have a descent conversation.

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gilda June 11, 2008 at 10:02 pm

+fabulously broke+
oooh thank you!!! by the way i’ve been reading your feed for a while now… and i still can’t understand how you’re so great at saving. i suck!

+marie+
how do you do it?? twist your left hand around? that really is a skill! wow!

+lady julianne+
well, that’s what i put “little” in the title. coz i’m quite rubbish too. more like a caterpillar actually. haha!

+the clothes horse+
oh connections, darling! :) gotta work it when you get the chance!

+aelia+
shhh. don’t spill our secrets ;)

+julie+
yeah me too! hahah very much the same!

+hail mary+
don’t worry, i think we all do it. i usually say it about 1000 times even though mentally, i already know what i want to wear! hee hee.

+mrbherng+
well, i wouldn’t say most of them are high-end. sometimes my friends invite me for dinner parties too. i don’t like parties like that in clubs. i prefer a more loungy setting. club parties are just for kids to rub up against each other! ha!

Reply

Fallon Hester June 12, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Your blog is fabulous! I love this article. I will be saving this site as a favorite.

Rock on!

Reply

Ashe Mischief June 13, 2008 at 12:06 am

How did I miss that you had moved your blog? After like, how many months?!

Jeezies. This always happens to some of my favorites. Thank goodness for Twitter, otherwise I would have kept wondering how busy school was keeping you!

/d’oh!

Reply

whimsical delights June 13, 2008 at 1:41 am

aaahhh…me too!! im unbelieveably shy. when ppl first meet me – they probably think im either antisocial and totally dumb because i rarely know how to form my words in front of strangers…and then, there’s that awkward silence…AWKWARD!!!…

hahahahha!!!

Reply

gilda June 13, 2008 at 2:50 am

+fallon hester+
oooh! thank you! i’m glad you like it :)

+ashe mischief+
hahaha. well i also didn’t update for eeeons! how did you know i was on twitter!??! social networks are so amazing. i just joined!!

+whimsical delights+
oh my gosh yes. sometimes they think i’m really arrogant but really i’m just trying to keep myself from peeing in my pants. i try to make friends though! very hard!

Reply

evie June 13, 2008 at 5:06 am

call me the queen of awkward silences and i agree.. there are some ppl you immediately connect with. if only it were always that easy!

Reply

Ashe Mischief June 13, 2008 at 8:30 am

I saw someone leave an @queengilda (perhaps it was Gala?) and I though, “Could that be?” So I popped over to your twitter page and was very excited to see you and your new blog/url listed!

I’m glad though, especially to come back and find such amazing posts waiting to be caught up on!

Reply

Casey-Scott June 13, 2008 at 11:16 am

Gilda,

I must say – I’m not the type who tends to be at the sort of events where you “network” and thus I was dreadfully worried about two networking events that I’ve had in the last week!

But after reading this article, I went to one tonight, and walked away with an offer for work experience!

Thanks for the advice ;)

Reply

Cammila June 13, 2008 at 11:16 pm

This is a very cool idea for a post! I wish more style bloggers would get into feature-style.

Reply

gilda June 14, 2008 at 12:27 am

+evie+
aww i totally understand. i guess, for me, i usually aim to make friends with at least 1 person. it’s just one! so that’s like an easy goal and that makes me happy enough.

+ashe mischief+
ohhh thank god for twitter then!! haha! it’s kinda addictive eh?

+casey-scott+
oh my god, thank you so much. your comment totally made my day!! it’s so great to know that it actually might have helped someone, even in the slightest bit!! and you walked away with an actual offer for some job?!?! that’s sooooo freaking amazing!! congratulations! i didn’t do anything, you did it all on your fabulous self!!

+cammila+
thanks! i guess i like to write about what i’m experiencing myself :)

Reply

Casey-Scott June 14, 2008 at 5:25 am

Well, the woman that I spoke to is a film production designer; and I mentioned that I want to work in theatre design, so she’s putting me in touch with one of her friends who is a theatre designer to find out about work experience placements and that sort of thing! I’m really excited!

And nooooo, I totally give all credit to you! I would’ve been utterly petrified if it wasn’t for this article! :D

Reply

gilda June 17, 2008 at 12:25 am

+casey-scott+
that is really so brilliant!!! i am really happy for you and i hope everything goes well!! keep me updated! :)

Reply

Couture Carrie June 18, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Gilda, what a Godsend! This post should be required required reading for all human beings who can . . . um, read! Excellent tips and such. Also, I think people are so out of touch with niceties that they really don’t know what RSVP means; I always cringe when I see “Please RSVP” – repetitive, right? I guess French lessons should come with the manners package. Your site is wonderful. Sounds like you are really creative!

Reply

gilda June 18, 2008 at 8:56 pm

+couture carrie+
wow, that’s quite the compliment! arigatou! yeah i know what you mean about the “please rsvp” thing. it’s like saying the word “please”, twice! :) not that i’m a french expert. but at least i know s’il vous plaît. :)

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