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Deciphering the Dress Code

By 02/10/2011February 28th, 2020No Comments

Today’s topic is something new to the blog – event attire. I took it upon myself this week to learn about and get feedback from a number of ladies for this week’s blog. I am thankful for the assistance on fashion and its jargon from my co-workers around the office! Don’t worry, there are tips for the guys, too. Here we go…

Your company’s party is this Friday and the dress is business casual, your daughter’s sweet sixteen is in a month and the theme is ‘Hawaii 5-0’ and your cousin’s wedding is this weekend and the invitation says black tie optional. How does one know what is appropriate for each event? With these few simple definitions and examples, you’ll always be dressed to impress.

Business Casual

-If you work in a not-so-conservative office, voila! What you’re wearing is the perfect example of business casual. Comfortable slacks in linen or khaki, mixed with a dressy top or button down is a classic look that works for both men and women. For women, if you are meeting co-workers outside of the work place for an office party and the dress is ‘business casual’ look for slacks or a dressy pencil skirt in darker shades with a fancier top with a sheen and bright color. Heels are optional and with all the great styles in flats and boots, you can mix it up without feeling the pain at the end of the night.

-Guys can take care of business casual with jeans, a button up and a blazer – or the popular button up and khakis look. And you can get away with a polo shirt sometimes, too!

Black Tie or Formal

-A ‘black tie’ event calls for a more formal type of dress. Men are to wear tuxedos or suits and women are to wear up-scale cocktail dresses, evening dresses or dressy separates. Appropriate footwear includes dress shoes and heels.

-If an event just calls for ‘formal’ attire, a tie isn’t always required, but if you’re a man and you are wearing a tie, go ahead and add the jacket, your date will appreciate it.

-‘Black tie optional’ gives you the option of wearing a tuxedo or formal dress, but it alludes to the formality of the event, meaning a dark suit and tie would be your other option. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.

White Tie or Ultra-Formal

-A ‘white tie’ event is the most formal an event can get. Men need to be in full tuxedos and women should be in long gowns or very dressy separates.

Semi-Formalor After Five

-Tuxes are not required, nor are long dresses. An evening wedding (after 6 PM) would still dictate dark suits for him, and a cocktail dress for her. Daytime semi-formal events mean a suit for him and an appropriate short dress or dressy suit for her.

 Cocktail Attire

 -For women, this means short, elegant dresses and dressy heels. Depending on the event, the dress can either be a little more showy or subdued. If the dress is in solid or dark shades, go for a shoe in a great complimentary color to give your outfit a focal point. For men, stick to dark suits and (clean) dress shoes.

 Festive Attire

-‘Festive attire’ is usually seen around the holidays. For her, it means to choose looks with a bit of sparkle, lively pattern or animal print. Dark jeans and a sparkly sweater would be a perfect outfit for an office holiday party. For men, try a knit pull-over in reds, greens or blues with khaki or denim slacks and you are good to go celebrate the season with your co-workers.


-For adults, theme parties can really go either way. Do you have friends that go all out for Halloween? Then yes, feel free to dress up to your heart’s desire. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a classic Halloween costume then just go for little touches that allude to your costume. Women, pull out that classic black dress that you’ve only been able to wear to a few occasions, buy some cat ears and a tail and you are good to go. Guys can get away with just about any mask or wig. If your budget it a little low, you can also go to a party store and buy some clip-on vampire fangs and with a little blood and a shirt you don’t mind getting dirty, you’ve got an original costume that it sure to turn some heads.

-If you are a parent hosting or chaperoning a themed event for your child or teen, I wouldn’t recommend dressing up too much. If it’s a Hawaiian-themed event, no one really wants to see their mom (or dad!) in a coconut bikini. Just stick with staple pieces leis around the neck or a Hawaiian flower in your hair. When it comes to your dress to your child or teen, less is more.

-There are many other theme options, but these are just a couple to consider.

Well, there it is. Anthony’s thoughts on fashion – never thought you’d read that, did you? But I hope you enjoyed.

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