Wedding/Party Best Dressed Guest – Dress Code Cheat Sheet

Has a wedding or party invitation ever left you clueless about what to wear? Don’t worry, our stylists know how to help you interpret that daunting invitation dress code wording. Whether it’s black tie, white tie or something in between, here’s our basic cheat sheet for what to wear.

White Tie 

This is the most formal of all wedding dress codes, think State Dinners and the Oscars.

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Black Tie

This is the next most formal wedding dress code and usually means the wedding is an evening affair. Traditionally, black tie meant a floor length dress or gown but nowadays a dressy knee-length option is appropriate.  


Formal/Black Tie “Optional”

The wording here suggests something slightly less formal than black tie. This means that a tuxedo isn’t required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. A dark suit and tie is still formal and an appropriate choice if you decide not to go the tuxedo route. 
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Business Casual

This is probably the most used and most confusing dress code on an invitation.  Depending on the usual dress for your office or group guys should plan on a jacket OR a tie.  Jacket-No-Tie is a big trend right now and works for this occasion, or on a hot day skip the jacket and opt for a tie to keep you looking put together.


Beach Formal

This suggests an elegant beach wedding—so dress to impress, but also dress for the elements (sun, sand and water). And remember to choose appropriate footwear for the terrain!



This one can be a little tricky, because it’s basically just a hair below black tie “optional.” The difference between black tie “optional” and semi-formal dress code is that this one isn’t asking you to wear a tuxedo or evening gown. Wear darker, more formal hues for the evening and opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime wedding. 

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Smart Causal

A “Casual” dresscode generally, means anything goes—but keep it tasteful you are still attending an event.  Avoid worn out clothing with holes, tears, and stains if possible. “Smart Casual” or “Dressy Casual” refers to more dressed up versions of your casual looks.  For men khaki or khaki alternative pants or very nice jeans. Pair with a polo or button up shirt. For women a nice skirt or pants or very dressy jeans with a pretty top or blouse.  For Smart Casual it is best to avoid shorts, old jeans and casual T-shirts.

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Remember to check your invitation for additional clues – a more formally written invitation implies more formal and/or traditional dress. Get in touch with the organizer or host/hostess and ask for a clear explanation, or ask if what you were planning to wear is okay.



Still not sure what to wear?

Do you have a special event coming up?  

Our Event Dressing services take the stress out of finding and deciphering the appropriate style to wear. We consult with you on the event, the social etiquette involved and your comfort level with dressing up so that you look and feel great making your entrance! 

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Contact us, and shine at your next big event!



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