We’ve all been there, you receive an invitation with a dress code that calls for creative black tie, festive, or cocktail attire for women, and suddenly you’re more confused as to what to wear to the event than if the invitation had said nothing at all. Believe it or not, there are actually specific expectations behind some of the most confusing dress code suggestions.
This is crystal clear for men—wear a tuxedo. It’s a little more complicated for women who can technically wear anything from a long dress, to dressy separates, to even a more formal cocktail dress. The best way to figure out what to wear is to dress according to what you expect the host to wear. Attending a high-end wedding? Then wear a gown. If, on the other hand, you’re attending a work function that calls for black tie, it’s more appropriate to wear a little black dress with a statement jewelry.
BLACK TIE OPTIONAL
One of the murkier dress codes, men are given the option of either wearing a tuxedo or a dark suit and a tie. Because men are given the option of dressing in a more casual manner, the dress code is more open for women too, who can wear anything from a long dress to a cocktail number.
CREATIVE BLACK TIE
Creative black tie is the dress code that allows you to have fun. Men, for instance, should feel free to wear a black shirt or a red bow tie. Women are similarly encouraged to take their look less seriously.Still confused? Think of creative black tie as trendy black tie. Also, oftentimes creative black tie is the expectation at theme parties with a dress code of 1920s Black Tie or Texas Black Tie, and in those cases, choose a dressy look that works with the theme. For instance, with a dress code that calls for Texas Black Tie a man would be dressed appropriately in a tuxedo and cowboy boots, and a woman could don a gown and a cowboy hat.
For guys this dress code calls for dark suits with a tie. For women, short dresses that are party ready. When in doubt ladies, wear a little black dress, and dress it up with fun jewelry.
A dress code that tends to pop up on invitations around the holidays, festive attire is similar to cocktail attire, but with a holiday bent, say a sparkly sequin dress or a red satin skirt.
The dress code suggestion at many daytime semi-formal events (particularly work lunches and conferences), this dress code calls for a suit and tie for the guys and a tailored dress or a pantsuit for women. The idea is to wear something business appropriate, that also feels dressed up.
Most offices have a dress code that calls for business casual. For women, pants and a blazer or a pencil skirt and a fun blouse, is the way to go. Guys can wears slacks or chinos and a collared shirt. Absolutely no jeans or sneakers.
This dress code calls for a just slightly dressier version of your most casual look. For women, elevate your go-to pair of pants with a fun pair of ankle boots. For guys, dress up your favorite pair of jeans with a blazer and you’ll be good to go.
Anything goes in this case, including jeans and sneakers, and this dress code usually means you’ll even be uncomfortable in anything but your most comfortable attire.
You might be wondering:
What Is Dress Code?
Dress codes are written and, more often, unwritten rules with regard to clothing. Clothing like other aspects of human physical appearance has a social significance, with different rules and expectations being valid depending on circumstance and occasion. Even within a single day an individual may need to navigate between two or more dress codes, at a minimum these are those that apply at their place of work and those at home, usually this ability is a result of cultural acclimatization. Different societies and cultures will have different dress norms although Western styles are commonly accepted as valid.
The dress code has built in rules or signals indicating the message being given by a person’s clothing and how it is worn. This message may include indications of the person’s gender, income, occupation and social class, political, ethnic and religious affiliation, attitude towards comfort, fashion, traditions, gender expression, marital status, sexual availability, and sexual orientation, etc. Clothes convey other social messages including the stating or claiming personal or cultural identity, the establishing, maintaining, or defying social group norms, and appreciating comfort and functionality.