Updated on November 3, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
Dress code is a standard of dress established for a given environment, as in the military, in a school or business, or in a cultural group – says the Dictionary. When you say that a particular place or a function has a dress code, it means that they have a set of rules as to what kind of clothing can be worn there.
A dress code indicates conformity, a sense of belonging and to a degree a sense of discipline. It creates an atmosphere of uniformity. It gives you a method to identify yourself with a larger group through the way you dress.
Above all, It clears confusion for most people as to what is expected of them – no one wants to be that person who is underdressed or worse, overdressed. When there are set rules, it is easy to follow them.
Many people get confused by some of the terms which accompany a dress code – casual vs business casual; formal vs black tie etc. This post aims to clear the confusion to an extent.
The main dress codes
White tie dress code
This dress code is the most formal of all dress codes; also called full evening dress or the ultra-formal dress code, it is the kind of dressing you see in international award shows, weddings, ball dancing, etc. As per this dress code, men should wear a tailcoat, white vest, white shirt, and white bow tie and women should wear formal long floor-length or cocktail length gowns with elaborate hairdressing and ostentatious jewelry.
Black tie Dress code
This is a formal dress code usually seen in evening social functions (after 6 pm) and weddings. As per this dress code, men wear formal clothing like a black /midnight blue tuxedo suit, white shirt, black tie, and women wear formal long floor-length or cocktail length gowns, usually in black color.
Creative Black tie dress code
This has an addition of color to the black and white ensemble of black tie dress code. A cummerbund or vest is added in a bright color.
Business Formal dress code
This dress code has men wearing business suits and the works including a dress shirt, vest, tie and pants and women wearing formal business suits with dress skirts or a tailored dress. Used for formal business meetings.
Semi-Formal Dress code
This is slightly less formal than the formal dress code- The men should wear a dark suit (in black, navy or dark gray) and women should wear formal long floor length or cocktail length gowns.
A dressy casual is a similar dress code but for social gatherings and fine dining in high end restaurants.
Business Casual Dress code
This dress code wants men to wear a semi-formal clothing like casual slacks/khakis/chinos with button-down shirts (with button-down collars) and no tie and women to wear semi-formal comfortable clothing suitable for wearing to the office – including dresses, pants and blouses and skirts. No jeans allowed.
Casual dress code
This dress code is a slightly dressier version of your most casual dressing. Jeans with a nice shirt and blazer for men and casual dresses/jeans and tops for women.
California Casual Dress code
This dress code refers to a laid back but smart-casual dressing followed by the tech professionals of the software companies based in California, which includes casual shirts, t-shirts, slack, jeans, and sports jackets.
Jacket / Jacket & Tie (Preferred /required)
This is a dress code indicated in high-end restaurants/resorts. As the name suggests a formality is requested with the requirement for jackets and some times a tie. It may be optional in some places or even compulsory. Dresses are preferred for women.
Cocktail dress code
This is a dress code meant for parties and evening social functions. The dress code instructs men to wear business suits and women to wear party dress, not necessarily long.
A different view on Dress Codes
A dress code maybe considered as interfering in the freedom of expression by some people. But there are circumstances where such a self expression may be deemed as inappropriate.
The first school dress code law was established in 1969 by the U.S. Supreme Court – the court established that schools have the right to establish a strict dress code and ask for adherence from its students ” to promote a safe, disciplined school environment, prevent interference with schoolwork and discipline, and to encourage uniformity of student dress”. You can read more about this here.