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Attire Guide: Dress Codes from Casual to White Tie

OCCASION/ DRESS CODE
MEN
WOMEN

White Tie

  • Black dress coat (tailcoat), matching trousers with a single stripe of satin or braid in the US; two stripes in Europe or the UK
  • White piqué wing-collared shirt with stiff front
  • Braces, to ensure a good fit
  • Shirt studs and cuff links
  • White vest
  • White bow tie
  • White or gray gloves
  • Black patent shoes and black dress socks

 

  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Long gloves (optional)

Black Tie

  • Black tuxedo jacket and matching trousers
  • Formal (piqué or pleated front) white shirt
  • Shirt studs and cuff links
  • Black bow tie (silk, satin, or twill)
  • Black cummerbund to match tie, or a vest
  • Dressy braces to ensure a good fit (optional)
  • No gloves
  • Black patent shoes and black dress socks
  • In summer, in the tropics, or on a cruise: White dinner jacket, black tuxedo trousers plus other black tie wardrobe

 

  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Dressy cocktail dress
  • Your dressiest "little black dress"
Creative
Black Tie
  • Tuxedo combined with trendy or whimsical items, such as a black shirt or a matching colored or patterned bow tie and cummerbund
  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Dressy cocktail dress
  • Your dressiest "little black dress"
  • Fun or unique accessories

 

Black Tie
Optional

  • Tuxedo (see "Black Tie" above)
  • Dark suit, white dress shirt, and conservative tie
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks
  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Dressy cocktail dress
  • A "little black dress"
  • Dressy separates

 

Semiformal

  • Dark, business suit
  • Matching vest (optional)
  • Dress shirt
  • Tie
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks
  • Short afternoon or cocktail dress
  • A "little black dress"
  • Long dressy skirt and top
  • Dressy separates

 

Festive
Attire

(usually for the holidays)

  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer in color of choice, and slacks
  • Open-collar shirt, or dress shirt
  • Tie—festive or with a holiday theme
  • Cocktail dress
  • Long dressy skirt and top
  • Dressy pants outfit or separates
  • A "little black dress"
  • Feature holiday colors

 

Business Formal *
  • Dark business suit
  • Matching vest (optional)
  • Dress shirt
  • Conservative tie
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks
  • Suit
  • Business-style dress
  • Dress with a jacket
  • Stockings (optional in summer)
  • Heels, low or high

 

Business
Casual
*

  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer with slacks or khakis
  • Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
  • Optional tie
  • Loafers or loafer-style shoes, and socks
  • Skirt, khakis, or pants
  • Open-collar shirt, knit shirt or sweater
    (no spaghetti straps or décolleté)
  • Dress

 

Dressy
Casual
  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer, and slacks
  • Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
  • Optional tie
  • Dress
  • Skirt and dressy top
  • Dressy pants outfit
  • Nice jeans and dressy top

 

Casual

  • Khakis or good jeans (clean, no holes)
  • Cargo or Bermuda shorts—depending on occasion and climate
  • Plain T-shirt (no slogans), polo shirt, turtleneck
  • Casual button-down shirt and/or sweater
  • Loafers, sneakers (with or without socks), sandals
  • Sundress
  • Long or short skirt
  • Khakis or nice jeans
  • Shorts (depending on occasion and climate)
  • Plain T-shirt (no slogans), polo shirt, turtleneck
  • Casual button-down blouse

*Always check and abide by your company's dress code

 

 
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18th-Edition-Cover-WOFor more information on attire, we recommend Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th edition, by Peggy Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post, and Daniel Post Senning. View our full line of etiquette books in our bookstore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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