Business Casual at the Athenaeum: Fact or Fiction?

Have you ever struggled with finding something to wear to the Ath? Are ties an unspoken requirement?  Are blazers and dress shoes a must? The official Athenaeum, known as the Ath to CMC students, policy is not much; it simply prohibits shorts, jeans, and t-shirts for dinner. This leaves a range of styles open, from simply a step above a pair of jeans to business formal.  

Many first-years who haven’t been to an Ath event have a hard time figuring out what to wear, including Suh Won Chang ’21.  “I threw on a formal dress,” she said. “That was not what most people wore, but after that, I was able to look at people were wearing for next time.” Nearly every student spoken to had consulted upperclassmen, especially First Year Guides, for advice on Athenaeum attire. Speaking to students who have been to the Ath before is a great place to start for anyone unsure about what to wear to a dinner. Here are a few pictures and comments that will hopefully become another resource for any baffled freshmen.

What makes an outfit Athenaeum appropriate?

“You can just wear casual clothes, slap heels on it, and you look fancy all the sudden.” ~ Sami Murphy ‘21

“Something you would wear to a work event” ~Callie Jenkins ‘21

“Between business casual and business formal” ~Becky Shane ‘19

“If you’re comfortable wearing it to an interview, you’re good wearing it to the Ath.” ~Katherine Adelman ‘21

“Suit Jacket and the pants make it appropriate.” ~Ari Joshua Moore ‘22


What is your staple piece?

“A blazer because you kind of throw it on anything and you look fancy enough.” ~Daniel Hayon ‘21

“A button-up shirt and some dress pants.” ~Frederick Qin ‘22

“Khakis, button-down shirt” ~ Patrick Gavin ‘21


Any advice for someone who doesn’t know what to wear?

“You can google business casual blogs and there will be a lot of examples.” ~ Arielle Liu ‘22

“Anything higher tier than blue jeans.” ~Bryan Williams ‘22

“If you don’t have a tie, I would wear a jacket.” ~Raimundo Farmer ‘22

“You don’t necessarily have to wear a tie but look presentable.” ~Rahul Dev ‘22

As you can see from the wide range of responses, there are guidelines to Ath attire, but they leave a lot of room for personal style.  This might seem daunting for a first-time Ath attendee, but it allows you to be confident and comfortable in whatever you choose to wear.

 “I know people that really love to dress up and will go suit, tie, even a pocket square,” said Daniel Hayon ’21. “ Then there are some people who I know that don’t really like to dress up and will throw on some slacks, a shirt, and just call it a day.  As long as you fit a certain standard, it’s totally up to you.”

While there seems to be an unspoken business casual dress-code, students are still able to express themselves and wear what makes them feel confident.