Deciphering Dress Codes

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A breakdown of what to wear for business casual, smart casual, cocktail wear, black tie and white tie events

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Deciphering Dress Codes

  1. 1. Deciphering Dress Codes Business Casual Smart Casual Cocktail Wear Black Tie White Tie
  2. 2. Business Casual - Women Separates or a dress are both fine for business casual Tailored pieces are ideal, but avoid anything which looks uncomfortable or too formal; the overall effect should still be quite relaxed Heels aren’t necessary, but a pair that you can walk in easily will keep your look professional Aim to look professional but stylish – choose classic looks over trendier options – and keep in mind that it should be appropriate for a workplace
  3. 3. Business Casual - Men Start with a classic button-down or polo shirt Khakis, chinos or other smart trousers are best Ties are optional In cooler months you can layer on a sweater, blazer or a light suit jacket Aim to look professional but stylish – choose classic looks over trendier options – and keep in mind that it should be appropriate for a workplace
  4. 4. Smart Casual - Women Add a smart top and a pair of heels Accessorise with a statement bag or jewellery, but avoid going over the top Attention to detail is key; make sure your hair and makeup is co-ordinated with the rest of your look Somewhere between casual and formal, but not too dressed up A pencil skirt is a great choice, but you can also go for a dress or some well-cut trousers
  5. 5. Smart Casual - Men Team a pair of smart trousers with a collared shirt Ties aren’t required A suit jacket is optional, but a full suit is too much Finish with a relaxed pair of shoes – loafers are perfect, trainers are too casual Somewhere between casual and formal, but not too dressed up
  6. 6. Cocktail Wear - Women Cocktail dresses tend to fall above the knee, but definitely aren’t mini length A little black dress is the ultimate failsafe, and can be accessorised with jewellery But colour is also invited with this dress code – look for jewel tones and keep to elegant styles Tailored trousers, especially cigarette pants, work equally well with a dressy top and heels A big step up from smart casual, this usually means a semi-formal evening event
  7. 7. Cocktail Wear - Men Choose a dark-coloured suit and tie to play it safe If it’s an event with a creative crowd you can experiment with colour a bit more – but still keep it smart and evening appropriate Depending on the venue, atmosphere and event type, you might be able to forgo the tie A big step up from smart casual, this usually means a semi-formal evening event
  8. 8. Black Tie - Women A full-length gown is usually most appropriate Depending on the venue and the event details, a formal cocktail dress might work Accessorize with elegant jewellery and a clutch bag, if required Finish with a pair of standout heels Mostly seen at weddings, charity events and very formal parties or dinners
  9. 9. Black Tie - Men A tuxedo (without tails) would be ideal Choose a classic tux jacket with satin-striped trousers, a cummerbund and a bow tie Alternatively, a dark suit with a classic white shirt and black tie is usually fine Mostly seen at weddings, charity events and very formal parties or dinners
  10. 10. White Tie - Women For such a formal event, a floor-length gown is expected Opera length gloves are optional and depend on the occasion High heels are essential Wear your hair up and add sparkling jewellery – this is the time to go all out This dress code signifies an incredibly formal event – nights at the opera, dinner with dignitaries or high profile galas or ceremonies. Renting clothes that you wouldn’t otherwise buy is definitely an option
  11. 11. White Tie - Men You’ll need a black tailcoat, in short or waist length Tails should reach the back of your knees Wear it with a starched white shirt and a white bow tie Cummerbunds are ideal, but not strictly essential The trousers should also be black, with satin seams on the outside leg This dress code signifies an incredibly formal event – nights at the opera, dinner with dignitaries or high profile galas or ceremonies. Renting clothes that you wouldn’t otherwise buy is definitely an option White kid gloves, a black top hat, a white boutonniere and white silk scarf are optional accessories depending on the occasion, but aren’t usually expected

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