Formal Dress Codes Revealed – what they really mean
Posted on May 04 2018
Summer is on the horizon and with it comes the dreaded formal dress codes for the weddings and balls we’ve been invited to. But what do they actually mean?
What’s the difference between black tie and white tie anyway?
We’re going to debunk those dress codes so you can be stylishly prepared for those summer events ahead.
Black Tie events are formal
That means you need to leave the casual attire at home and dress to impress.
We’re talking a tuxedo with dress shirt, bow tie, cummerbund and patent leather shoes. You might be able to get away with a smart black suit if a tux really isn’t your thing but checking with organisers on what you can get away with is a sensible idea here.
In America, a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo trousers aren’t unheard of for Black Tie but haven’t really caught on in the UK, but it might be an option for a slightly more relaxed event or one with an international flavour.
White Tie events are the height of formality
We’re talking State Dinner attire here – there’s no cheating as you really do have to put the effort in to get it right. Also known as ‘full evening dress’, it’s not particularly common now although it was the standard attire for gentlemen before the Second World War.
According to Debrett’s, you should be wearing a black single-breasted tailcoat with black trousers, a white marcella shirt with detachable wing collar and double cuffs fastened with cufflinks, a white marcella waistcoat, bow tie and highly polished black shoes.
Black Tie Optional are events with a more relaxed feel
You’re still expected to dress well but if a tuxedo isn’t your thing, you’re not going to look out of place by opting for a suit instead. Keep it dark with a crisp white shirt and sensible tie to make sure you keep to the trend on those all-important photos.
Smart Casual events are the semi-formal occasions we can chill out with
No, we’re not saying that jeans and a jumper are appropriate here, but you can take things down a notch and choose your own comfort over formality. How you received the invitation is a big clue in how smart or casual the event will be – a printed invitation is going to be far more formal than one received by text message or email.
Smart trousers like chinos with a collared shirt and jacket are a sensible choice.
Casual usually means a laidback affair
Probably an outdoor event where a suit isn’t the most practical thing to be wearing. Best check before opting for double denim though. Smart trousers with a button-down shirt is a safe option.
And if a dress code isn’t specified you’re free to make your own judgement on what to wear based on the occasion. If in doubt, the more formal end of the smart casual spectrum is usually the safest choice to make.
Photo by Min An from Pexels
- 8 Essential Items Every Man Should Have in His Wardrobe
- 4 things to consider when buying a shirt
- What to wear with a black shirt
- Discover the best jackets on the High Street this Autumn and Winter 2018
- 5 Autumn Winter Fashion Trends to Wear in 2018/19
- 3 Hacks for Looking Sharp as a Shorter Gentleman
- Slim fit or regular? Which one should you choose when it comes to buying a suit?
- Linen shirts vs cotton – which is better this summer
- Everyman’s Guide to Wearing Tailored Separates
- Wedding Suits and How They Started
- A Brief History of Men’s Braces
- What’s the best way to care for my bespoke shirt?
- How to wear a blazer this summer
- The remarkable history of the necktie
- Summer shoes and how to wear them
- Top Tips for Staying Cool in the Office this Summer
- This Summer’s Big Shirt Trend – Vertical Stripes
- How to wear a checked shirt with style
- A gentleman’s guide to organising his wardrobe
- How to wear a short-sleeved shirt well this summer
- Formal Dress Codes Revealed – what they really mean
- The Denim Jacket – for the casual smart look this summer
- Why every man should own at least one Oxford shirt
- Suit colour combinations that work
- From field to shirt – explaining the cotton industry
- Nanotechnology – the future of modern clothing
- The impact of social media on menswear
- 21st Century Office Wear - have we seen the last of the three-piece suit?
- How to get the most mileage out of your shoes
- The gender differences of shirts and suits
- From Nightgowns to Business Wear – the Interesting History of the Humble Shirt
- Upcoming Fashion Trends for Spring/Summer 2018
- Why a tie can be more of a fashion disaster than a fashion statement in the office
- Valentine’s Day – a date to dress sharply for!
- The overlooked clothing item of the corporate world – socks
- Professional Image as a Freelancer – What Should You Wear When Meeting Clients?
- Should you be implementing a corporate dress code for your company?
- The Need to Know Guide to Buying a Suit for the Larger Gentleman
- Colour psychology in business wear
- Can Denim Ever Belong in the Office?
- How to dress correctly for a black-tie event
- Avoid Those Winter Fashion Mistakes With Our Top 5 Tips
- The Perfect Guide to Choosing a Winter Coat
- The Gentleman’s Guide to Dressing for Business Travel
- Mastering the Tape Measure – How to Size Yourself for a Suit
- Simply the best accessories to go with a business suit
- Classic Tie Knots Every Gentleman Should Know – The Four in Hand vs the Half Windsor
- Should you always dress to impress at a job interview?
- How to avoid a cheap suit – the tell-tale signs to look out for
- The gentleman’s guide to washing a shirt