Festive? Cocktail? Or festive cocktail? The language of party invitations is key to cracking the dress code, well, code. Following are some cues to heed in your choice of attire. And heed away.
There is a renewed interest in dressing with intent (thanks in part to a movement against "Casual Fridays" getting too casual). Taking pleasure in dressing for a sense of occasion has triumphed over huffing about having to fuss with a suit or cocktail dress. Wear the hell out of that formal wear.
If you're fortunate enough to be invited to an event that calls for black tie, why not fully embrace it? Wearing your best can be a point of pride, as well as a nod of respect to your host.
While you open your closet, consider falling nicely in the middle of the sartorial spectrum. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you don't want to be the flashiest person in the room, but you don't want to be the most under-dressed.
- Black tuxedo jacket and trousers
- Crisp white formal shirt with button studs and cuff links
- Bow tie (or formal long tie, smart tie clip optional, as is pocket square)
- Cummerbund or vest
- Black patent shoes and black dress socks
- Floor length evening gown, or dressy cocktail dress
- Evening heels or shoes (fabric over leather, often)
- Formal accessories (not the handbag you schlep to the office, for example) and hair very done
Semiformal or Cocktail
- Dark suit
- Crisp, pressed dress shirt
- Tie, cuff links, tie pin if you're feeling it
- Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks
- Cocktail dress, top and skirt combination or smart pantsuit in an evening fabric
- As dolled up in accessories as you like: jewellery, handbag and shoes
- Slightly less smart or formal version of the above for both men and women
- Relaxed cocktail attire, but a bit more ease. A vest over a dress shirt. Reindeer sweater is not required .Strive to look relaxed, but not costumey
- Metallics and jewel tones are right at home (J. Crew's Holiday Look Book is always good to peruse)
- Are jeans ok for business casual? If the function and occasion are more casual than business, then yes, but opt for your darkest, pristine denim.
- Blazer or sport coat in a seasonally appropriate fabric
- Casual dress shirt (tie is optional) or collared polo
- Loafers (if wearing socks, they should be good socks, not white gym socks. And hipsters may bare ankle as they see fit).
- Casual dress (nothing strapless or too precious) or a shirt with skirt or pant
- Keep the business in "business casual" - nothing too slinky or bombshell
- Wedges, modest heels or a smart flat (look no further than Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge for a study in casual)
This post first appeared on Finishing School