Have you ever received an invitation to a wedding or an event but can’t quite seem to decode the dress code? Either the host must have it wrong or you just aren’t clear as to what’s expected.
Here are five dress codes decoded:
1. White Tie
White Tie is as formal as it gets. Most of us won’t receive an invitation to a white tie affair in our lifetime, but if you happen to be among the lucky few, you’re going to need to whip out your gloves and gowns. This dress code leaves little room for personal interpretation, making it imperative that you follow the guidelines strictly.
Gents, you’ll need a black tailcoat jacket with matching trousers, full white waistcoat, wing-tipped collared dress shirt, self-tied white bow tie, patent leather dress shoes and white gloves for dancing.
Ladies, you’ll be shopping for a full-length ball gown to be paired with glamorous makeup, jewelry and hair.
2. Black Tie
Black Tie is typically reserved for evening events and is the most formal dress code you’ll likely face when being invited to a wedding (unless you’re one of those special people who attend white tie affairs).
For women, it’s customary to wear floor-length gowns, but if you don’t own one, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a chic cocktail dress as long as it’s not too short or too revealing.
Men should wear a tuxedo, white dress shirt, waistcoat, black bow tie and black dress shoes.
3. Black Tie Optional
Black Tie Optional is one of the more confusing dress codes you’ll see listed. Our rule of thumb is that if the host has gone to the trouble of putting it on the invite, they’re likely hoping you’ll conform.
However, the dress code typically applies to men who may or may not own or want to wear a tuxedo. If that’s you, opt for a dark suit and tie.
For women, it means you have the option of wearing a full-length gown or opting for a cocktail dress.
This is the most popular of formal dress codes. It’s still formal but leaves a little room for creativity and indicates that the event is going to be classy but a little less stuffy.
Traditionally, women would opt for a knee length dress but you can definitely go a bit shorter, as long as you keep it classy. The dress should be elegant but not too formal and not too casual (no sun dresses!).
Men should be in dark coloured suits but can sport a patterned tie and coloured socks with a pair of well-shined brogues, oxfords or monk-straps.
5. Beach Casual
Just because it says ‘casual’, doesn’t mean you can roll off your lounger and into the ceremony chair. It’s still a wedding and it’s highly likely that the couple have put thought and energy into how they’re going to look, so you should too.
This dress code calls for punchy hued or printed mid to floor length sun dresses for the ladies paired with a dressy sandal or wedge for ease of walking.
Gentlemen, try a pair of light coloured and lightweight pants with a short sleeved button-up or cotton polo and slip on shoes (no flip flops!).