Every event asks for a different dress code. Black Tie
To help you choose the right dress code for each The term “ black tie” on an invitation connotes
function, we have defined some for you. Always formality and indicates that men must wear a
make sure to clearly communicate the appro- tuxedo. Women wear cocktail, long dresses
priate dress code to the attendees; this prevents or dressy evening separates. For men a black
a lot of embarrassment. tuxedo jacket, black tuxedo pants, white shirt,
black cummerbund and tie, or matching tie,
All-Out-Casual: cummerbund or vest and formal shoes are
What you wear in the privacy of your own required. A cocktail dress is a short knee
home or to be comfortable with family and length dress shape of the 1920s, lightweight
friends. Sweatpants (including running suits), wool, satin, silk and velvet fabrics are usual and
t-shirts, sweatshirts, well-worn jeans and often cut to reveal the shoulders and arms.
shoes and stretch pants are good examples.
Everything in this category is unacceptable Black Tie Optional
for most business situations. This means you have option of wearing a tuxedo,
but it should clue you into the formality of
Sport Casual: the event, meaning a dark suit and tie would
Jeans, other cotton pants and shorts that are be your other option. Women wear cocktail,
tidy and in good repair fit here. Clean, crisp long dresses or dressy evening separates.
t-shirts and sweatshirts also belong to this
category. Sneakers are the footwear of choice Black Tie invited
with sport casual looks as long as they’re This means you have the option of wearing
not dirty or ragged. Some industries (i.e. a tuxedo, but it should clue you into the
high tech, publishing etc) allow sport casual formality of the event, meaning a dark suit
Monday through Friday, or just on Friday. and tie would be your other option. Women
Off-site meetings and weekend work events wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening
sometimes allow this type of look, especially separates.
during the summer months.
Creative Black Tie
Business Casual: Creative Black Tie leaves room for trendy
A more dressed-up look than sporty casual interpretations of formal wear. You can go
bur not nearly as dressed as traditional office more modern with tuxedo, maybe a black
clothes. Think khaki pants (especially no- shirt, no tie. She wears long or short dresses
wrinkle styles) worn with a polo or oxford or evening separates (maybe a long lace or
shirt. sequined skirt with a sleek cashmere sweater).
Women, choose pants (with or without the
matching jacket), crisp cotton shirts, sweater White Tie
sets, and Bermuda style-shorts and jump- White Tie is more formal than Black Tie. Men
ers. To set a business tone, skirts, shorts and wear black tails, black tuxedo pants, white
jumpers selected for business casual are best pique wing tip shirt, white pique tie, white vest
worn with a medium or flat height shoe and and formal shoes. Women wear long gowns.
Like traditional office clothes, the length of Semi-formal
casual dress garments should be no shorter This is the trickiest of all dress codes. Usually
than three inches above the knee. Vests, it means that tuxes are not required, nor are
cardigans, pullover sweaters, loafers and high long dresses. An evening wedding (after 6
quality belts are all great finishing pieces for PM) would still dictate dark suits for him and
both men and women dressing for a business a cocktail dress for her. Daytime semi-formal
casual environment. events mean a suit for him and an appropri-
ate short dress or dressy suite for her.
Dressed-up Casual (smart casual)
What you wear to evening office functions that Cocktail attire
don’t require a suite, cocktail dress or other Cocktail Attire means short, elegant dresses
formal business attire. For men, a navy blue for her and dark suits for him.
blazer with grey or tan pants are standard –
you don’t necessarily need a tie. Silk or banded Dressy Casual
collar shirts without a jacket are appropriate Dressy Casual usually means no jeans or short.
too. For women, jumpers, palazzo pants with Similar to business casual, but a bit dressier.
matching or well coordinated tops work well.
A black pant suit that can be dressed up or Informal
down is always a good investment for profes- Informal can mean the same as casual. How-
sional women, especially those who attend ever, when associated with a wedding or other
these events regularly. special event, good taste should prevail.
A dress for her or a nice pair of slacks and shirt
for him are informal, but respectful of the event.