What Do Dress Codes for Events Mean: Formal Attire

It’s definitely happened before. You receive an invitation to an event, and you have no idea what the dress codes mean. Don’t fret! In this post, we break down the basic guideline for formal attire, so you won’t feel out of place again:

White Tie 

The fanciest of all the dress codes, and is usually reserved for a seriously sophisticated affair. Trust they will be strict about the dress code, so take this time to dress up to the nines!

Men: You’ll need a tuxedo. Long black jacket with tails, please! White collared shirt, vest and bow tie. Go with black patent leather shoes.

Women: This is the time to unleash your inner Oscar attendee! Wear a floor length evening gown, with dramatic jewelry and fabulous heels.

Black Tie 
More commonly referred to as formal wear, it isn’t as severe as White Tie. This doesn’t mean it’s any less glamorous!

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Men: Wear a tuxedo. You’ll need a black bow tie, and a cummerbund (it’s a horizontally pleated wide sash, that you wear at the waist!). Don’t forget your black patent leather shoes!

Photo: Glamour

Photo: Glamour

Women: Go with a long evening gown, or switch it up with a chic cocktail dress! A little black dress is all you need. Don’t be afraid to rock a tux, just like Marlene Dietrich, as pictured above! Since it’s Black Tie, you can lose the hat and put on a black bow tie instead.

Black Tie Optional 

As the dress code suggests, you have the option to stick the classic Black Tie guideline, or go with something less fussy.

Men: Go with a formal tuxedo or show up with a dark suit, and a tie.

Women: Wear cocktail or long dresses, or even dressy evening separates! Glam it up with a great pair of heels, or fabulous jewelry.

Creative/Funky Black Tie

While Creative or Funky Black Tie might still need mostly formal wear, this dress code allows trendy or flashy accents to complement your outfit. The best way to get creative is with color!

Men: Do wear a tuxedo jacket and matching trousers, but be bold with your color choice or even pattern designs. Instead of the traditional white shirt, go with a chic black dress shirt and ditch the neckwear. Use plaid or stripes for cummerbunds, if you’re really feeling flashy! Add special pocket squares of different designs and color to make your outfit pop.

Women: Long dresses and chic cocktail dresses are the safe choices, so go big with unique accessories and jewelry! We suggest choosing a colorful clutch to stand out. You can also go with tuxedo pants and a silk top, or a satin ball-gown skirt with a gorgeous cashmere sweater.

Formal Dress Code Tips

You’ve heard the saying: Overdress when in doubt! If you’re still not 100% confident in your getup, just remember it’s better to be overdressed than to be underdressed. Formal occasions are especially unforgiving with pairing your tux with sneakers, as it probably shows the hosts you didn’t put in as much effort as they did organizing the event.

Certain invitations might confuse you with keywords like glamorous or Hollywood, but it can be translated into formal wear as well. Just remember, if Denzel Washington or Jennifer Lawrence wouldn’t wear it to the Oscars, then you shouldn’t wear it to your formal event either!

Check back with us, as we break down semi-formal and casual attire in our next post!

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