Dress Code Terms
Deciding what to wear to a special event can be a daunting task. Whether it’s picking out something from your closet or heading out shopping for a new outfit, understanding what style of dress is appropriate is the first place to start. If you are unsure of the dress code, you can ask your host or the event planner.
Black Tie. Evening gowns or cocktail dresses should be worn ranging in length from tea length to full length. Dresses should be classic in style. Men should wear a black tuxedo.
Black Tie Optional/Formal. For women this means the same style dress as Black Tie. Men should still wear a tuxedo if one is available, but have the option to wear a dark suit, preferably black, navy, or dark gray. This is still a very formal event so dress accordingly (no short skirts!)
Semi-Formal. Cocktail dresses are the perfect choice here, landing anywhere from an inch above the knee to the floor. Stay away from ball gowns and business suits in this dress code. Dressy skirt suits of high quality material are also acceptable. Men must wear suits, including a neck tie.
Cocktail Attire. Break out the little black dress! Cocktail attire can be fun dresses that are trendier and shorter, but classic looks are always great too. Length can be above the knee to tea length. Dressy separates are also appropriate. Men are still wearing suits at this level, but the tie is optional with today’s trends.
Informal (aka Business Attire). This is not the same as casual attire! It is slightly less dressy than semi-formal. Women can wear a skirt/pants suit or a conservative dress and jacket. Men are required to wear suits with a tie.
Smart Casual. Ladies, put on a skirt or dress pants and coordinate a cute outfit. A casual dress is also acceptable, usually above the knee or just below. The term “smart” here means that you should look put together and not too casual. Men can wear trousers or chinos with a button down or polo shirt. Sweaters work for both men and women. Jeans are not always acceptable, but in today’s trends jeans have become their own fashion statement.
Business Casual. Women can wear dress pants or skirts accompanied by blouses or sweaters. Men do not wear suits, but opt for separates of trousers and shirts.
Festive Attire. Usually used around the holiday season, the attire can be anywhere from semi-formal to smart casual, but usually on the dressier side. Try adding some sparkle or color to get in the “festive” mood! No business look here, keep it dressy but fun.
Casual. Choose your style and go for it! There are no rules for casual attire. You can use this style of dress to express yourself or simply be comfortable.