Dress Codes Defined

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 12.16.55 PM


Dress Codes Defined

An invitation arrives in the mail requesting your presence at an event. All too soon the dreaded question enters your mind: What will I wear? While the following are not as confusing as “island formal,” “casual chic” or the dreaded “come as you are” requests, these more common dress codes still have specific expectations behind them. Allow me to expound:

Black tie

Formal, and usually reserved for evening affairs. Men wear a tuxedo; women, a long gown.

Black tie Optional

Slightly less formal than black tie. Men don a tuxedo or dark suit and tie. Women should wear a long gown, a cocktail dress or dressy separates.


Festive and fun. For guys, this dress code calls for dark suits with a tie. For women, short dresses.


A dress code that tends to pop up around the holidays, festive attire is similar to cocktail attire, but with a holiday bent of added sparkle or color.


The idea is to wear something business appropriate which also feels dressed up. A suit and tie for the guys, and a tailored dress or suit for women will do the trick.

Business Casual

Casual but work appropriate. Guys can wear slacks and a collared shirt. For women, pants and a blazer or a pencil skirt and blouse will have you covered. No jeans or sneakers allowed.

Garden Party

Think colorful and lightweight. Men, choose slacks, an Oxford shirt and sport coat, or a light-colored suit. For ladies, a dress and flats or wedges to avoid sinking into the grass will make for a comfortable event. Remember, Memorial Day to Labor Day, seersucker is fitting attire for any warm weather outdoor Southern gathering.


Anything goes, but be tasteful. I suggest khakis and a button down or polo for the Southern gentlemen. For the ladies, a dress, skirt or pants with a pretty top will have you looking both casual and polished.

When in doubt, it is certainly appropriate to contact the host to clarify what they expect party guests to wear.