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In August, I am going to a three-day workshop in Philadelphia attended and taught by senior people in my field from around the country.  The dress code, according to the information packet, says “casual, shorts, sneakers and sandals are appropriate.” Can you help me interpret? —Monica

Manolo says the Admiral Manolo, standing on the bridge of his imaginary star cruiser, shouts, “It is a trap!”

It is the well-known fact that the “casual business attire” is never casual, nor very good for doing the business. What it is very good for, however, is proving that you are someone whom one can do the business with later, after the casual thing has ended.

For the example, if you were to take this admonition to casualness at its face value and show up at the opening breakfast breakout session wearing the dirty running shoes and the tighty bicycle shorts, rocking your favorite, faded “Actuaries Probably Do It” novelty T-shirt, it is unlikely you will be considered the serious person.

The Manolo recommends modified preppy-wear for the out-of-the-office outings. One rarely goes wrong with the khakis and cotton tattersalls, as long as the Prep-o-Meter is not too high (which the Manolo defines as asking people to call you “Muffy”).

If you wish to wear the sandals, the Manolo likes the Bernardos, which were good enough for the Jackie O, and thus good enough for anywhere. Here is the aptly named Dazzling ($295,