When getting ready to party, make sure you are aware of the dress code or theme, in order to avoid the all too common faux pas, of wearing the wrong outfit to the wrong event. The golden rule if you’re unsure is to ask, it only takes a few moments to ask and can make the difference between standing out for the right or wrong reason.
The main thing to keep in mind is to keep your creative streak within the confines of the dress code. You may not like it or prefer another different dress code for the event but doing so is bad etiquette. Rather, stay within the dress specification and be creative within it, remember as a guest it is only polite to obey the dress code.
Dress codes, in general, can be very confusing this is so mainly for two reasons. Firstly, most people are used to very limited dress attire. As a society, we’ve inherited the many different dress styles and terms but very few people are well acquainted with them in today’s times. Secondly, the terms themselves are very vague leaving much to the imagination.
Some of the more common and well known dress codes out there include; black-tie, smart-casual, cocktail and casual.
Keep in mind the location of the party. Is it at someone’s house or is it at a venue? Often the venue website will give a good idea of how formal or casual the party dress will be. At the end of the day, a dress code can be seen as a point along the continuum of casual to formal. Use common sense, ask, and take your cue from what your hosts or other party goers are doing.
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 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.
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.
For 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.
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.