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Dress Codes

Coming into party season, it is time to de-mystify the code around dressing up. Dress codes can be ambiguous and confusing – what is the difference between smart casual and casual, cocktail and black tie? Nothing takes the fun out of getting an invitation like worrying about what you are going to wear that will fit in with the expectation of the dress code – so as experts in dressing women for all the special events in their lives – we are here to help.  

Black Tie. This is easy for men – they just wear a tuxedo. It’s a little trickier for women – because technically they can wear anything from a long ball gown to a formal cocktail dress. Even classy pants and a lace or sequinned top is acceptable. The best way to judge this is to evaluate the event – a high-end evening wedding or a ball – wear a long gown. If it is a classy work function then a little black dress and statement jewellery is acceptable.

Creative Black Tie. This is the dress code that allows you to have fun! While the tuxedo is still the preferred option for men, they can choose to wear a red bow tie, or take the whole look down a notch in a dark suit and tie. Women can also dress in a slightly more casual manner – and choose anything from a long dress to a sparkly cocktail number – the idea is to be a little creative.

Cocktail. Easy for men – this is just a dark suit and a tie. Women can have more fun – the trick is to keep the dress shorter than a formal gown. Anything from just below the knee to mini length – the dress just has to announce ‘party.’ Lace, bling, sequins – embellishments are definitely called for here. This is a great occasion to go all out with a fascinator.

Business Formal. This is a dress code called for at many work events, particularly business lunches and conferences. Once again the men get of lightly with a suit and a tie, while women should wear a tailored dress, suit, or trousers and jacket. The look to go for is business appropriate, but dressier than you would normally wear to the office.

Business Casual.  This is the dress code called for in most corporate or business environments – trousers and a smart shirt for men, and a tailored skirt with a fun blouse, or a pretty dress is always appropriate for women.

Smart Casual. Sometimes called Casual Dressy, this is just a slightly dressier version of your go-to casual look. Try a tailored pair of pants, with a funky blouse – or a pretty floral dress and a great jacket. It is definitely a look that calls for heels, don’t try wearing sneakers or jandals to this event!

Casual. Anything goes – except maybe your swimsuit. Jeans, sneakers, shorts or a pretty cotton skirt with a sleeveless top. The trick here is to go for comfort!

If in doubt – the best plan is a quick call or email to the person hosting the event – and ask for guidance. Or if you know someone else attending the same event, get together with them and plan your strategy. Getting the dress code right ensures you will feel totally comfortable at any event.