Understanding the Different Dress Codes!

It can be incredibly awkward, receiving an invitation to a formal do with a specific dress code, and not having the first clue about what it actually means. At some point over the course of the year, you’ll probably receive such an invitation – perhaps for a wedding, a graduation or an anniversary dinner – and you will be required to dress accordingly. However, when you don’t know the different between black tie, white tie, evening and cocktail, what do you wear?

Of course, etiquette suggests that you present yourself in something that suits the occasion and if a certain dress code is specified on the invitation, it’s only right to stick to it. If you don’t, not only will you feel out of place for being under, or over, dressed, but you’ll also feel a lot more self-conscious for the duration of the evening. Formal dress codes aren’t as popular nowadays as they used to be and as such, many of us have forgotten, or haven’t been informed, of the differences. This may help you understand a little better though, so that you know whether to don one of your evening dresses, or whether you should just keep it simple.

Black Tie

A black tie dress code is quite formal, especially if you’re not used to it, and you may or may not already have something in your wardrobe that would suit this sort of occasion. Graduation evenings, award ceremonies and charity dinners are often black tie events, where evening dresses and smart suits are the name of the day. Don’t worry though; you won’t have to spend a fortune on a new, floor-length frock – you can find some great value evening dresses from George that will make you look the part. Just remember that at these sorts of events, too much flesh is a no-no – elegance and class are what it’s all about.

Occasionally, you may receive an invitation to the epitome of a formal do – a white tie event. These are few and far between nowadays but occasionally, you may find yourself being invited to one. Balls are a typical example and for these sorts of events, only the smartest attire will do – that means a ball gown and everything, you know!


Cocktail events are still smart and can vary in formality, but they often give you the chance to crack out that shimmery dress or your little black number. Party dresses are ideal for this sort of occasion, with knee length and slightly shorter numbers being perfect. A little bit of glitz and sparkle wouldn’t go amiss either!

Smart Casual

You will find that many parties and wedding receptions nowadays offer guests the chance to have a little more freedom about what they wear and as long as their outfit fits the smart casual bill, everything will be fine. It’s a great chance to show off your personal taste and options range from dresses right through to smart black skinnies and a pair of killer heels.

Choosing your perfect outfit can be a minefield when it comes to special occasions and invitation-only events. Try not to worry too much and as long as you stick to these simple rules, you won’t look out of place. Remember, if in doubt, ask others what they are wearing so that you know whether you’re on the right lines or not and most of all, enjoy the evening!

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