What To Wear?

As published in Azalea Magazine Spring 2019 .

An invitation arrives in the mail requesting your presence at an event. But, what to wear? These common dress codes 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.


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.