Dress Code, the magic words that suck up half the excitement about preparing for events. Not just because it’s confusing, but it’s difficult to find the balance between being appropriate and creative (stylish). If you’re here seeking the perfect dressing instruction for all dress codes, you’re in the right place.
Formal, Semi-Formal (White Tie, Black Tie)
Congratulations! If you see ‘white tie’ or ‘black tie’ as the dress code, that means you are going to the ultimate formal event. It also means it’s hard to go wrong. A white-tie invitation expects you have a black tailcoat and pants with the shirt, waistcoat, bow tie, and gloves all in white.
Alternatively, a black-tie invitation is slightly less formal by comparison and requires a black tuxedo with a waistcoat or cumberbund (typically also black) and black bow tie. Usually, there are no gloves in black tie attire. A pair of black patent shoes and black dress socks are the perfect footwear for both dress codes.
Typically, a dark business suit with a light color dress shirt paired with a conservative tie or pocket square and leather dress shoes with dark socks are the norm. However, French sleeve shirts with cuff links or a suit (or shirt) with conservative strips, can help you build some personality in your formal attire.
Remember, business formal is not so much about drawing the attention of yourself, as it is showing respect to the place you are or the event you’re attending. Usually, ‘business formal’ is used in events where the person who invited you is a work associate or the function is exclusively for business purposes.
Business Casual, Smart Casual
When it comes to business casual, you may be better off thinking of it as smart casual instead. Basically, you’re looking for a way to look stylish without crossing the line. 20% casual with 80% business is the core ratio for smart casual.
All the replacements should be simple. A fabric neck tie with sport or blazer is always a safe option. Switching your suit jacket to a bomber jacket or putting on a pair of chinos on instead of dress pants can also work. During the summertime, a slim cutting light-colored polo shirt with dark jeans (clean and with no holes) will also give you a nice look.
And guys, there are a lot of shoe selections for you. You can have Oxford, double monk straps, loafers or brogues. The bottom line is to make sure you’re outfit has 80% formal dress components when you are in the ‘smart casual’ or ‘business casual’ dress code. This way, you still look sharp, but doesn’t look you tried too much.
Going with the theme of the event is the only rule for ‘party casual’ or ‘creative tie’. In cocktail attire, you should be dressy but leave some room for personality. Similarly, at festival events adding a hint of something extra with accessories can go a long way. A pair of cowboy boots with a blazer in a Texas theme party or a Chinese character cuff-link at Chinese New Year party can really show appreciation for the party without going full costume.
It is great the above tips can help you understand the dress code on your invitation or make you shout TGIF without the fear of a weekend business casual event. If there are still some details you are not certain about, ask your host/hostess for advice. If you don’t feel comfortable asking them, feel free to as other people who you know are also going. There are plenty of resources to help you decode dress codes, GREY is happy to be one of them.
Any questions or comments? What dress code nightmares have you encountered? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!