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Deciphering Dress Codes – Made Easy

June 21, 2016

Have you ever been invited to a function and been unsure of the correct style of outfit to wear? Most of us have – whether it’s a beach wedding, a business awards night or a fundraiser,  dressing for an occasion that is not a usual part of our daily life can be confusing and leave you feeling less confident that you would like to be feeling!


Your first step is to check the invitation for the dress code. Hopefully the expectations of the host in regard to guest attire will be clear, and this is usually the case with weddings. You might see the words ‘Formal’, ‘Smart Casual’ or ‘Cocktail’, for example.


If you’re attending an event such as a ball, fundraiser or business awards, the dress code may not be so clear, although clues are often in the title of the event – a black tie ball or a cocktail party fundraiser etc. If it’s an annual event, perhaps you can have a look at websites and/or social media pages for photos from previous years for guidance.


Smart Casual


Probably the trickiest of all dress codes, and you really have to consider what type of function you’re going to – what might be considered smart casual for one event might be too casual or dressy for another. Generally though pants, above the knee dresses and flat shoes are all acceptable.
























A knee length dress (above, on or below the knee – whichever suits you best), an evening pantsuit, dress pants and evening top are all appropriate. If you’re a clever dresser, you can go straight from work to play by wearing a simple but well fitted dress, and then changing your shoes, accessories and lipstick.


It’s really best to avoid wearing a full length dress to a cocktail event – especially if it’s a wedding.

Black Tie


Black tie events generally start after 6 pm, and are pretty fancy! Men will be tuxedos (yummo!). Floor length gowns are traditionally worn to black tie events, but in this day and age, a cocktail dress in rich colour or fabric will suffice – just make sure your accessories, hair and make-up are immaculate so you don’t look too casual.























White Tie


The most formal of the formal. Dress in a floor length gown, adding gloves and wearing your hair up.

Can you wear white to a wedding?


Although it’s becoming more common, I’d check with the bride. The safe bet, though, is not to, as even if the bride doesn’t mind, you can bet someone will take offence at your ‘attempt to steal the bride’s thunder!




Remember you will feel more comfortable if your outfit matches your style personality so try and stay as true as you can!


I am available for Personal Style workshops, public speaking, wardrobe and colour consultations and personal shopping styling sessions, based in Perth, Western Australia.
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