Dress Code : The basic 10 dress codes defined.

Proper guidelines on what clothing is considered suitable and respectful in various settings, such as formal events, workplaces, social gatherings, religious ceremonies, or specific venues like restaurants or clubs which specifies a dress code.

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

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.

What to wear to a white tie dress code function?

White tie code for Women

Full-Length Formal Gown

Elbow-Length Gloves

Statement Jewelry

Evening Bag or Clutch

Closed-Toe Formal Shoes

Silk shawls or wraps

White tie code for Men

A Black Tailcoat with a squared-off front and long tails at the back

White Wing-Collared Shirt

White Silk Bowtie

A White Piqué Waistcoat, or vest, is worn underneath the tailcoat.

Black Formal Trousers with a silk stripe running down the outer leg.

Highly polished Black Patent Leather Shoes.

Black Socks

Black tie Dress code

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.

What to wear to a Black tie dress code function?

Black tie code for Women

Formal Floor-Length Gown, Cocktail Dress which may fall just above the ankle, statement jewelry, statement bag.

Black tie code for Men

Black Tuxedo Jacket(single-breasted or double-breasted, with shawl lapels or peak lapels)
Black Trousers(a satin stripe down the outer leg)
White Dress Shirt(with a turn-down collar, formal pleated or piqué bib front).
Black Bowtie(made from silk)
Black Cummerbund or Waistcoat (Vest)
Black Patent Leather Shoes
Black Dress Socks
Cufflinks, a pocket square, and a formal watch

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 or a bow tie is added in a bright color. 

Business Formal dress code

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

semi formal dress codes

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

business casual

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.

Related post : What is Business Casual Dress code for women : 7 must have components.

Casual dress code

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

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.Read more about what to wear to a cocktail dress code here.

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.

Related posts : Names of different fashion styles ; Fashionable Colors and their names ; What is fashion ? ; History of fashion; Formal Dress codes

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Dress Code : The basic 10 dress codes defined.”

  1. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable
    for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to
    create your theme? Outstanding work!

  2. Business casual is more casual than that pic.
    And casual is FAR more causal than that pic. Seriously? Amazing how much inaccurate information is online nowadays.

  3. In the Past there were “Dress Codes” for attending Weddings. If you’re the Bride, (Host or Hostess for the Wedding) you’ll determine dress code for the Affair.
    If the Wedding is designated “Black Tie”, Gentlemen should make an effort to wear a tuxedo suit, HOWEVER for Women, Hard & Fast Unwritten Rules:
    1. Think Twice about wearing Black OR White! – Black is a color of Mourning (death), White is Reserved for The Bride. Also Don’t wear Red (or any other exceedingly bright attention-grabbing color) Remember, It’s Not about YOU, It’s about the Bride, & the Wedding Party.
    2. Do Not try to “Out-dress” the Mothers of the Bride, Groom, or the Bridesmaids.
    3. Do Not Wear “Las Vegas Show-like” low-cut revealing necklines, exceedingly short skirts, or skirts with slits that reveal all of the leg. Slits should end at the knee. As for Very Dressy Pants Outfits, (Depends. Think Twice. Maybe take a Pass!)
    In Other Words, use “good taste” in your Wardrobe selection. You’re Just A Guest. Again, It’s a Wedding, It’s about the Bride & her Wedding Party.

    • Hi Margaret,
      These are great tips, I think relevant always – especially the tip about never trying to out dress the mother of the bride or bridesmaids – thanks for writing them – it does add to the article.

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