Being invited somewhere and not knowing what to wear can be quite stressful. Dress codes were invented to ensure that people knew what was expected of them no matter what event they had been invited to. The key to turning up and feeling like you belong and are not out of place is understanding dress codes and getting it right. So, here’s a quick guide so that you can nail every dress code.
This is about as formal as it gets, and it’s the sort of thing you would see on the premiere of a movie red carpet, associated with the rich and famous A-listers. So, for men, this means wearing a black dress coat with tails and your trousers will also need to be black and feature the satin stripe down the side of the legs.
The shirt must be white and have a stiff front with a winged collar. You should have cufflinks and studs to hold down the collar. The bow tie as you might expect would be white hand folded and well presented. It would be completed with black socks and shiny leather shoes as well as black or grey formal gloves. Women should have a floor-length evening dress, nothing shorter. But it can be any color or design. Added extras could include elbow-length white gloves, high heels, a tiara, and a clutch.
This is a more common dress code, and it’s not quite as formal as the white tie option. Generally, an evening event that starts after 6:00 PM would be a black tie, if you are visiting a casino you may find a black-tie dress code, and indeed, if you are going to a formal dinner or dance.
So, this time your Man’s jacket does not need to have tails, it would be a traditional tuxedo style and set off with a hand-folded black bow tie. It would help if you had the same white shirt, this time with an evening waistcoat. The shoes and socks remained the same. For when you are looking at a long evening dress or ball gown, there is some flexibility, and you could wear a pantsuit.
Again, it is preferable to cover your legs and not have a short skirt. It can be complemented with a wrap and high heels, but you do not necessarily need the gloves on this occasion.
Black Tie Optional
This dress code is also referred to as formal and ironically is less formal than the expectations of a black-tie code. Some casinos and other venues prefer black tie optional to be quite strict, so this means you can get away with dressing in a suit as a man, but it doesn’t always have to be black. It would be better if it were a dark suit and a white shirt, but you could get away with dark brown shoes.
You still need to wear a formal suit jacket; a sports jacket would not be dressy enough. Women can be slightly more casual, and this time it is acceptable to wear a dress that ends below the knee. If preferred, a floor-length gown or pantsuit is proper.
An event that has a semi-formal dress code suggests that for men, a suit is still required. It does not need to be a tuxedo, but any tailored suit in a dark color would work well. You may now get rid of the white shirt and opt for something more colored, but again darker conservative colors are favorable.
If you wear a colored shirt, your time must match. You don’t need to wear a bow tie, but you do need to wear a tie still. Shoes, in this case, can be brown or black and your socks must be dark. Women can now wear a skirt that finishes above the knee, but it still should offer a semi-formal look and not be too short. In this case, you could wear a dress skirt and blouse or even trousers with a dress shirt.
As it sounds, this is the sort of attire that you would wear to the office. Although offices have become relatively informal if business formal is specified, you do need to wear a suit. You do not need to wear a tie, but you should still have a smart suit on, and if you do wear a tie that is more than acceptable.
Ladies can wear a suit, and generally high heels are expected. It is the sort of thing that you would expect to see in a corporate office. There are fewer limitations when it comes to color, but it should still be quite formal.
Business casual requires men to wear a collared shirt, with a sports jacket. The collar is the crucial bit here, so no tee shirts. There is no expectation of wearing a tie, but again with dress codes generally dressing up slightly is acceptable.
You may wear slacks or khakis but not jeans, and you could wear loafers but not trainers. For women again, you are looking for a college shirt and a smart skirt, or pants. If you wear a short dress, it can finish above the knee but should not be a mini skirt.