You’ve just been invited to a wedding, party, or business event. Here’s a handy guide to help you decide what to wear when the dress code is…
WHITE TIE – The most formal dress code, typically reserved for events such as state dinners or a debutante ball
• Women: Wear a formal, floor-length evening gown. Go all out with your most dramatic shoes and jewelry.
• Men: Wear a tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a white wing-collared shirt, a white vest, a white bow tie, and black patent-leather shoes. White or gray gloves are appropriate.
BLACK TIE – Less dressy than white tie, but still pretty formal, and usually reserved for evening affairs
• Women: Wear a floor-length evening gown, a knee-length dress with heels, or your dressiest black dress. Dressy separates, like a knee-length skirt and shell set, also work.
• Men: Wear a tuxedo, a black bow tie, a black cummerbund or vest, and black patent-leather shoes. In the summer or on a cruise, a white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants would be appropriate, along with the rest of the black-tie wardrobe.
CREATIVE BLACK TIE – Formal, but with a trendy twist
• Women: Skip the modest gown in favor of a more fun, but still formal dress. You can also wear a formal knee-length dress, a satin ball-gown skirt with a cashmere sweater or blouse, or tuxedo pants with a silk top. Accessories should be fun and unique.
• Men: Wear a tuxedo combined with trendy or whimsical items, such as a black shirt or a colored or patterned bow tie with a matching cummerbund.
FORMAL – Slightly less formal than black tie
• Women: Wear a floor-length gown, a knee-length cocktail dress or little black dress with heels, or a dressy suit.
• Men: Wear a dark suit and tie with dressy leather shoes, or a tuxedo.
SEMI-FORMAL – Somewhere between formal and casual, depending on the time of the event
• Women: Wear a knee-length cocktail dress, a little black dress, a dressy skirt and top, or even slacks with a dressy blouse.
• Men: Wear a suit and tie in a dark or light color, depending on the season and the time of day, or dress pants with a collared shirt and jacket. Add dressy leather shoes.
COCKTAIL ATTIRE – Festive and fun, but not formal
• Women: Wear a knee-length dress, or even dress pants or a skirt with a nice blouse.
• Men: Wear a jacket and slacks, with or without a tie. Colors or patterns can be a bit bolder than with semi-formal attire.
BUSINESS CASUAL – Casual, but work-appropriate
• Women: Wear dress pants, a casual dress, or a skirt with a nice blouse. Stay away from spaghetti straps or plunging necklines.
• Men: Wear khakis or dress pants with a collared shirt and loafers (or loafer-style shoes). You can also add a sport coat or blazer.
CASUAL – Anything goes, but stay away from jeans, shorts, and tank tops for bigger events (casual weddings included).
• Women: Wear a sundress, a skirt or pants with a pretty top.
• Men: Wear khakis with a button-down, a sweater, or a polo shirt.
As always, if you have questions or need help with what might be the most appropriate option for your next event, please let us know!