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De-coding dress codes

Navigating dress codes can sometimes be a wardrobe nightmare. When you have a special event that has a dress code, what do these codes really mean? Be ready to plan your outfit for your next wedding or special occasion with our guide that takes the guesswork out of getting dressed!

Black Tie

For men, this dress code is crystal clear- wear a tuxedo. It’s a little more complicated for women as things generally are! You can technically wear a long ball gown type of dress to a formal cocktail dress or even dressy separates. There are more options but this can also mean more confusion. If your hair, make up and jewellery is quite dressy you can’t really go wrong so work with this also to create your black tie look as it can make all the difference.

Black Tie Optional

This dress code is a bit more of a grey area. Basically, it is a flexible black tie- neb can wear a tux or a black suit, but should still look very formal. A tie should be worn. For a woman, a dress is still required, but potentially doesn’t have to look as extravagant. Make sure you look formal but you can inject a bit of flexibility with this dress code.


A popular dress code for most weddings, cocktail can be quite flexible. While a clear step above smart casual, you can still have a bit of fun with this dress code. For women, this generally means a cocktail dress around knee length. For men, this will mean a dark suit, but you could wear a tie, bow tie or even potentially no tie depending on how semi-formal the event is.


This is an interesting dress code that generally pops up around the holidays- perhaps for a Christmas party. Similar to Cocktail, look dressy but also inject some fun and sparkle or shine. For men, this can mean a satin tie in a festive colour and for women this can be a sparkly dress or glitzy earrings. Check out this lingerie shop!

Other tips and tricks

Outside of the stated dress code, there are other indications that can help you discern what you should wear. Taking the location into consideration is helpful as this may give you a hint as to how formal people are going to be looking. Considering the time of day when the event is held is also a good clue as to how dressy you should look. For example, a mid-afternoon engagement party is likely to be less dressy than a night time wedding.

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