Has a wedding or party invitation ever left you clueless about what to wear? Don’t worry, our stylists know how to help you interpret that daunting invitation dress code wording. Whether it’s black tie, white tie or something in between, here’s our basic cheat sheet for what to wear.

White Tie 

This is the most formal of all dress codes, think State Dinners and the Oscars.



For Him –  Wear a tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a white pique vest and a bow tie. Formal black shoes and even white gloves are appropriate.

For Her – Wear a long formal ball gown. Glamorous makeup and dramatic jewelry and hair are appropriate.


Black Tie

This is the next most formal dress code and usually means the event is an evening affair. Traditionally, black tie meant a floor length dress or gown but nowadays a dressy knee-length option is appropriate.



For Him –  Men should wear a tuxedo with a black box tie and a nice pair of tuxedo shoes. For trendier events these days, men can choose a necktie and leather dress shoes. For formal events stick to the traditional tux.

For Her – A chic cocktail dress or long evening gown is appropriate.

Formal/Black Tie Optional

The wording here suggests something slightly less formal than black tie. This means that a tuxedo isn’t required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate.

attends the 7th Annual Hollywood Domino and Bovet 1822 Gala benefiting artists for peace and justice at Sunset Tower on February 27, 2014 in West Hollywood, California.


For Him –  A tuxedo or formal dark suit in black, charcoal or navy and bowtie or necktie.

For Her – Choose between a long evening dress, dressy suit or formal cocktail length dress.


Business Casual

This is probably the most used and most confusing dress code on an invitation.



For Him –  Dress pants or khakis, with a collared shirt and belt. Depending on the usual dress for your office or group guys should plan on a jacket OR a tie.  Jacket-No-Tie is a big trend right now and works for this occasion, or on a hot day skip the jacket and opt for a tie to keep you looking put together.

For Her – A skirt of dress with a hem past the knee, or tailored dress pants with a button-down blouse are appropriate.

Beach Formal

This suggests an elegant beach wedding—so dress to impress, but also dress for the elements (sun, sand and water). Remember to choose appropriate footwear for the terrain!



For Him –  Wear a summer or light colored suit. Modern dress codes make a tie optional. Linen pants and a jacket with a dressy loafer in a light color are appropriate.

For Her – Wear a formal summer dress at floor or cocktail length with a flat sandal. Makeup and hair should be natural and should withstand the elements – perhaps up if it is windy.


This one can be a little tricky, because it’s basically just below black tie “optional.” The difference between black tie “optional” and semi-formal dress codes, is that semiformal isn’t asking you to wear a tuxedo or evening gown. Wear darker, more formal hues for the evening and opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime event.



For Him –  A suit and tie depending on the season and time of day, wear darker, more formal hues for the evening and opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime event.

For Her – A cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top are appropriate.



Remember to check your invitation for additional clues – a more formally written invitation implies more formal and/or traditional dress. Consider the host – he event is to celebrate your host, so consider them when choosing a look. A traditional religious event requires different adherence to dress codes than a Bachelorette!



Still not sure what to wear?

Do you have a special event coming up?

Our Event Dressing services take the stress out of finding and deciphering the appropriate style to wear. We consult with you on the event, the social etiquette involved and your comfort level with dressing up so that you look and feel great making your entrance!

Let us help you:

Release your fashion baggage- Book an appointment-2Shop and find just the right dress, suit or outfit for your special occasionRelease your fashion baggage- Book an appointment-3Create an event-perfect outfit from pieces you already ownRelease your fashion baggage- Book an appointment-4Add finishing touches by finding the bet shoes, purse, accessories and outerwear to complement your look


Contact us, and shine at your next big event!