The excitement about the event you’ve been invited to is tempered by just one thing: the dress code. From black and white tie to cocktail and casual, cracking that code is your first step to wowing at any soirée you attend - and sidestepping any potential sartorial mishaps. Fear not, the team is on hand to decode before you make your choice:
This is the strictest of all dress codes and normally accompanies the most lavish of events (think White House State Dinners). You won’t be able to get away with wearing anything but a floor-length gown to this type of event. Don’t be scared to add lashings of drama and glamour with megawatt jewelry, long gloves, and an elegant up-do. This category may seem very strict, but you can have fun with the palette, unlike male guests who must stick to a tailcoat tuxedo, white waistcoat and white bow tie - hence the name.
This is the most standard dress code for formal events, and far less strict than White Tie. You can leave the long gloves at home but will still need a ball gown or similarly decadent dress. Mid-length could work if floor-length isn’t your style, but probably no shorter. Those hoping to stand out with their choice could try elegant separates or a luxe jumpsuit - trust your instincts as to how traditional your host will expect you to be. Gentlemen will be expected to wear a tuxedo with a white shirt and black bow tie.
Black Tie Optional
Black Tie Optional, also referred to as Formal Attire: Your host will still expect polish and glamour within this dress code, but the mood is more relaxed than that of Black Tie. Midi, knee-length or even shorter - the choice is yours within this flexible dress code, but keep in mind that this is a formal event so be sure to turn on the glamour. Men can wear a tuxedo with black bow tie, but as the name suggests this is optional so a suit is also allowed as long as it is dark and worn with a tie.
Cocktail, also referred to as Semi-Formal Attire: The most playful of all dress codes. You can wear a knee-length dress, go mini or try an elevated pant suit. Gowns are out of bounds here, unless you want to be the only one at the ball. A smart lounge suit will suffice for male attendees.
This will be the most common dress code for work-related events, which is why “evening professional” is the key term. Though you’ll be in a festive and relaxed environment - and you’re allowed to turn on a bit of glamour - keep in mind that if it is a work-related event it’s not wise to reveal more skin than you would in the office. For all other events, you can have as much fun as you would like with this dress code.
Your favorite floral dress? Jeans and a t-shirt? Anything goes for this dress code. If you’re like us and support a sustainable lifestyle this is the one category of clothing where you can justify investing in as you can wear casual pieces over and over again…but do come back when you need to be a bit more dressed up!