Defining Dress Codes-What to wear for every occasion

Hitting the right note with attire can be confusing if the invite reads Black Tie, White Tie or Dressy Casual.

With so many different dress codes out there, it can be difficult to know what to wear, even when the type of dress requested is stated on the invitation. Here are the details of how to dress appropriately for a Black Tie event because picking out an outfit should be fun and not stressful.

In order to explain it better I’ve put together clothing pieces for men and women to create an outfit, which I believe is appropriate for each dress code.


Black tie is a dress code for social functions that usually start after 6 p.m. The intricacies of black tie formal wear applies more to men than to women. Black tie is less formal than white tie and is considered to be the second highest level of formal attire. This is usually the kind of dress code you’ll be given for weddings or special events (like an anniversary party or political dinner parties).

What to wear


  • Formal (floor length) evening gown, but in this day and age, exceptions can be made. If you don’t own a floor length gown and don’t particularly want to buy one, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear your dressy cocktail dress you already have. However, if you do go this route, just make sure to keep the colors rich (black, jewel tones, chic metallic) so as not to look too casual.
  • Chic separates, such as a silk blouse with a full satin skirt.
  • Your dressiest “little black dress”.



  • Wear a tuxedo and pair it with a formal white shirt and a bow tie with or without a vest.
  • Formal pleated white shirt looks great with a tuxedo.
  • You don’t always have to wear a black tuxedo. The deep, rich hue of a midnight blue looks quite elegant and is my personal favorite for a tuxedo. Though the suit is blue, the lapels and trouser stripe are black satin. Gray also is an option to look out for.
  • Accessorize your shirt by replacing your regular buttons with studs and cuff links.
  • It goes without saying, a cummerbund should always be paired with a bow tie, preferably one in a matching fabric. Cummerbunds are meant to be worn with the pleats facing upward.  Downward facing pleats are actually incorrect.
  • You can wear a cummerbund, but they’re not very popular at the moment. Braces are great – they ensure the trousers stay put and not slip down throughout the evening.
  • Wear pocket square in silk and it should look coordinated with the rest of the outfit. You can even wear a silk scarf. It stands out as not everyone will be wearing one and is a bit more special.
  • Black patent leather shoes and black dress socks. If you want to look really stylish, try wearing velvet slippers to look different from the rest.


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Dress Code: Cocktail


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