Deciphering dress codes can be tricky. It always seems to be a fine line between getting the look ‘just right’ and appearing overdressed or underdressed. Luckily there’s a more relaxed attitude to fashion these days and people are less likely to wear over the top dressy outfits for a formal occasions. That said, there are also some instances where you should strictly stick to the dress code. Here is dress codes explained.
Smart casual is probably one of the most stipulated dress codes around. Deciphering dress codes like this one is often open to interpretation. The key is to look put-together and polished. For women, pretty dresses and skirts are always a safe bet and if you want to wear jeans then try teaming them with something like a tailored blazer and heeled shoes. For men, a collared shirt is usually a good idea and you can get away with wearing lighter colours. Always lean more towards the ‘smart’ end of the scale than the ‘casual’.
Social events like parties and weddings often call for cocktail dress codes. For women, this means a glamorous dress, usually around knee length but these days you can get away with wearing a range of lengths. If dresses aren’t your thing you could even get away with wearing a chic tuxedo. Men can wear suits without a tie. There’s lots of room to move with cocktail dressing and it’s an opportunity to get dressed up without the restrictions usually associated with more formal dress codes.
The lounge suit dress code is similar to cocktail dressing. The two dress codes are pretty interchangeable these days which can lead to confusion. If you were to stick to the lounge dress code then women should choose a glamorous, usually floor-length gown. You can play around with jewellery and accessories to create a truly stunning look. As for men, they should wear a suit with a tie.
The word ‘optional’ can throw a spanner in the works. But this dress code is simply a step up from lounge suit and less formal than black tie. For women an elegant floor-length gown should do the trick. Men should stick to dark coloured suits but a tuxedo wouldn’t seem out of place either.
Black tie events are formal affairs, and you should dress accordingly. This is one of those dress codes where it’s important to stick to the rules. Women should opt for a floor-length formal gown. Accessories can be a great way to add some personality to your outfit but avoid going too over the top. Men should wear a black tuxedo with a black bow tie and smart dress shoes.
White tie is the most formal dress codes of all. If you’re ever invited to a white tie event then be prepared for a dressy, glamorous affair. Women should wear floor-length formal gowns, complete with gloves. Hair should usually be worn up. Men should wear a three piece suit, with a tailcoat, and a white bow tie (hence where the ‘white tie’ dress code comes from.)
If you’re invited to an event that doesn’t have a dress code it’s up to you to use your judgment to best decide what to wear. Check the type of event, time of day, and location to determine what outfit would best be suited to it. Informal dress codes like smart casual and cocktail dress are usually your best bet. If you’re still stumped, ask the host or other people who have been invited what to wear.
Dress codes are usually put in place for a reason. Although some dress codes, usually the informal ones, offer more leeway than others. Do you think it’s better to be overdressed or underdressed? What are your best tips for dressing for the occasion?
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