With wedding season right around the corner, you are probably starting to receive save the dates and wedding invitations for a bunch of events, each with its own personality. Or, you may be planning your own big party! If you know your guests my hit the panic button rather than rejoice in fashion heaven, we advise you to keep the wording regarding dress code basic so that there's no question about what to wear. If you are getting ready to put on your dancing shoes for someone else's event, we hope this guide helps navigate you thru the mall racks as you put together a cool shimmy outfit.
Here's a quick cheat sheet to assist you in styling your guests or dressing to impress at one of your many engagements this season!
Black Tie: This is the most formal and clearest dress code of them all. “Black Tie” simply means men must don tuxedos and women should wear long, fancy gowns. Even in tropical climates, if the invitation says black tie, ladies, it’s typically not appropriate to wear a short dress. Some exceptions can be made but it's recommended to keep the overall color scheme of a shorter hemline in a richer hue and with an elegant silhouette. Fool proof outfit: A long gown for ladies and a tux for men. Gals, you are invited to wear color! As long as it's a long evening gown, feel free to wear a pretty shade of your most flattering color.
Black Tie Invited or Requested: Essentially when you write “Black Tie Invited,” you’re inviting your guests to dress in black tie, but it’s not required. This leaves the option open for men to wear a tux and thus opens it up for the ladies as well. A long gown or a shorter cocktail style gown is acceptable, however it is still very formal. It's most helpful for men who may not own or be able to rent a tuxedo and therefore they are given the luxury of wearing a dark suit. Fool proof outfit: For ladies keep the dress long with an ankle gazing gown and add a pretty statement necklace. Men can strut their stuff in a tux or dark suit and bow tie.
Creative Black Tie: This is when formal events add a punch, especially when there's some sort of other theme going on at the event. It can be a scary term for people who are hesitant to embark on a fashion experiment. You may see this also called Texas Black Tie or 1920's Black Tie. Essentially, choose a dressy look that works with the theme. For men, it's simple. Start with a tux and then add a whimsical element to that such as a colored bowtie, a black shirt, cowboy boots, etc. Ladies have the option to wear a longer gown and do the same such as incorporating a cowboy hat into their look. Fool Proof Outfit: Men keep the tux as is and simply trade in dress shoes for a pair nice black cowboy boots. Ladies wear your elegant gown on and just add in some long strands of long pearls. If you are feeling adventurous, rock a delicate floral head crown.
Festive Attire: This means that guests should have fun and dress according to the theme of the invite. They are welcome to wear bright colors and clothes that make a big statement because it’s going to be a playful event. It's helpful to make sure that theme is expressed clearly in the invitation or website so that guests know that they will not be over or underdressed. If it is a garden, ranch, vineyard, backyard, etc event, make sure guests know that there is an element of casualness to the event and to dress comfortably footwear wise that is in line with the grounds (ie. grass, dirt paths, etc) and jacket/shirt/dress wise for the weather. Full Proof Outfit: Men are always safe with a pair of slacks, nice leather belt, and a button down shirt. Depending on the festive element behind the event, you can translate this to either a short or long sleeved shirt. Ladies can find relief and comfort in a pair of wedges and a knee length dress.
______ Chic (ie. Beach Chic, Vineyard Chic, Nautical Chic, Barnyard Chic, etc, etc): Similar to festive attire, this mode of dress lets your guests have fun with the theme of your event. The addition of the word Chic lets guests know to step the dress code up a bit and to look nice. It's also a good way to quickly let guests know the theme so they aren't left searching or guessing. Fool Proof Outfit: Ladies, grab a colorful number and a pair of wedges to be safe on all sorts of terrain. Guys can work in some colored slacks, a dress shirt, and simple jacket. Tie is optional.
Cocktail Attire: For guys, this usually means a dark suit and tie while the gals can show off their gams in a shorter hemmed dress that is party ready. In our opinion, men can have some fun for cocktails. Fun patterns on ties and gingham patterned shirts are a good alternative and easy way to dress to impress. Fool Proof Outfit: When in doubt, a LBD is a great way for ladies to look chic. Easy for men is a dark suit and tie.
Business Attire: Typically used for corporate events that are scheduled right after work. Employees will come dressed from the office. Essentially, suits and dressy business attire are requested. Full Proof Outfit: This is usually dictated by your corporate culture so keep it in line with what is acceptable at the office.
Resort Casual: Imagine you are headed to a country club for brunch with your grandparents. During the daytime, men can wear khakis but during the night, slacks are more appropriate. Shirts should have a collar so daytime calls for a polo or button down while a pressed button down shirt is good for night time. Ladies are welcome to wear trousers or slacks with a nice blouse or may wear a mid length dress. It's good to bring a bolero or shawl to cover up those shoulders. Fool Proof Outfit: Check any guidelines for your country club or venue but typically men can should choose slacks and button down shirt. Ladies will be safe in trousers and a silk blouse.
Casual: You are inviting your guests to dress comfortable and casual which can mean jeans, shorts, shirts, etc. Really, there’s no enforced dress code. Note: If you want people to dress in a slightly less informal style, you can always put “Casual Chic.” I believe that whenever you add the word “Chic” to your attire, you’re telling guests to please take it up a notch but don't stress about the outfit.
Come as you are: I love this for day-after brunches or backyard barbecues. This simply means: wear whatever you want. Even PJs are welcome if you feel so inclined!
All White Attire: In this case, everyone is invited to wear white. It’s a particularly beautiful dress code for beach weddings. It's helpful to indicate the level of dress for men - whether that be jackets or just dress shirts expected - and ladies can take the lead from there.