Resort causal. Business dress. Black-tie. White-tie. So many phrases to explain so many types of attire. The Beau, being from Southern California, is often confused and baffled by such dress codes and often argues with me about the ridiculousness of something such as resort casual. What a silly husband!
But the reality is, there are no rules anymore. Sometimes weddings are daytime garden affairs. Other times your friend’s annual New Year’s Eve party is black-tie. No matter what, it’s always best to be over-dressed, than under-dressed–but knowing what each dress code requires is still important no matter what you choose to wear.
White-Tie is the most formal of all. Men should wear a black tail coat with matching trousers, a white piqué wing-collard shirt with a stiff front, white vest and white colored studs and cufflinks. This is paired with a white bow tie, white or gray gloves and black patent shoes and black dress socks.
Women should wear a formal floor length evening gown.
Black-Tie, the most feared wardrobe outfit of men, features the traditional black tuxedo jacket and matching trousers. This ensemble should be worn with a formal white shirt featuring a piqué or pleated front, along with black-colored cufflinks, black bow tie, and black cummerbund or vest. The tuxedo should also be worn with black patent shoes, black dress socks and optional dress suspenders (different from casual suspenders). For Black-Tie during the summer months or on a cruise, men should wear a white dinner jacket instead of black.
Women should wear a formal, floor-length evening gown or dressy cocktail dress for black-tie attire.
When it comes to black-tie optional, following the rules for black-tie is always acceptable. Black-Tie Optional does allow for men to substitute the tuxedo for a dark suit. This should be worn with a white shirt, conservative tie and dressy leather shoes and dark dress socks.
Women too may wear the same as black-tie or may wear a little black dress or dressy separates.
Semi-formal attire allows for men to wear just a dark business suit with a dress shirt, tie and dressy leather shoes and dress socks. This may also be complimented with an optional matching vest.
Women may wear a short afternoon or cocktail dress, little black dress, dressy skirt and top or dressy separates.
Unless your party’s festive attire is ugly-sweater themed, in honor of the winter holiday season, men should wear a seasonal sport coat or blazer in a color appropriate for the occasion, along with slacks. An open-collar shirt may be worn (meaning a collared shirt worn without a tie) or a dress shirt with an optional holiday-themed festive tie.
Women should wear a cocktail dress, dressy skirt, little black dress or dressy top and pants ensemble.
Men should wear a dark business suit, dress shirt and conservative tie with dressy leather shoes and dark socks.
Women may wear a suit, business-style dress or a dress with suit jacket, stockings and heels.
Business casual is one of the most common dress codes and a favorite of most men. Appropriate business casual attire includes a seasonal sport coat or blazer for men, with slacks or khakis, a dress shirt with a tie, or a casual button-down shirt. An open-collar or polo shirt may also be worn. Loafers or loafer-style shoes and socks are the best option for this ensemble.
Women may wear a skirt, khakis or pants with an open-collar shirt, knit shirt or sweater, and a casual-style dress. Unless covered by a sweater or suit jacket, do not wear spaghetti strap shirts or tank tops.
Dressy casual is similar to Business Casual, with the addition of nice jeans as an option for women.
Casual, the most opposite of Black-Tie, is The Beau’s most favorite–though he does also enjoy Business Casual attire. Men may wear khakis or nice jeans (no holes!) or Bermuda shorts with a plain t-shirt, polo shirt, turtleneck, casual button-down shirt or sweater and loafers or sandals.
Women may wear a sundress or long or short skirt, khakis or nice jeans or shorts, with a plain t-shirt, polo shirt, turtleneck or casual button-down blouse.
Resort attire is one of my favorites. It’s essentially Casual Attire without the jeans, t-shirts, tank tops or skimpy shorts. For men this means polo shirts, linen pants or nice chinos, khakis or shorts, and top-siders or nice sandals. Women should wear linen pants and dresses, sundresses, skirts or nice shorts with a blouse or polo shirt. Sandals, dressy flats or heels are appropriate as well.