Dress codes and requirements can be confusing, below is a brief description of various dress codes and dress code terms to help simplify things for you:

White tie

White tie is the most formal of dress codes and is used for formal balls or state dinners. Women are required to wear evening or ball gowns, with a shawl and long white gloves worn as accessories. The men wear a dress coat with matching trousers, a white bow tie, and a white low-cut waistcoat.

Black tie

This is usually reserved for very upmarket events or significant events such as graduation ceremonies and charity balls. The women wear a formal full-length gown. For men, these styles will involve a waistcoat or cummerbund, jacket and bow tie.

For both black and white tie events avoid any custom or colorful cufflinks. This dress code is supposed to speak class, elegance and sophistication with an emphasis on understated colors and tones.

Cocktail

16941180130_3d09e31a7a_bFor this type of dress code, it is perfectly acceptable for women to wear an above-knee hemmed skirt, pantsuits can also be worn (if preferred). For men, it is a simple suit with or without a tie. The tie may be more relaxed it need not be a business tie but avoid a tie that is too casual such as one with cartoons or too many colors.

Smart Casual

The most common mistake with this dress code is that people tend to focus too much on the second part of the word but this is a big mistake. Casual is a separate dress code – don’t confuse the two. For women, there are few rules and it is far easier to dress up an otherwise casual outfit. For men avoid shorts. Chinos and denim with a smart shirt or smart t-shirt (preferably a golfer) will do. Wearing a tie will be overdoing it. Aim for a balance.