Dress Code Drama: Common Dress Codes Broken Down!

If you’re like me, then the second September 1st hit you were instantly in holiday mode! Bring on the spook-tacular soirees, fall feasts, and winter wonderlands!

The holidays are a time to celebrate, spend time with your loved ones, and fret over event dress codes (only sort of kidding here)! If you’re not in the mood to agonize over the difference between “festive” and “cocktail” attire, don’t worry, I’m here to break it down.

White Tie: The highest tier of “formal wear!” You’re expected to wear an evening gown or a black coat with tails and white tie.

Black Tie: Just a *little bit less fancy, but you still have to throw on that tuxedo! You can also go for a full length gown or a nice cocktail dress in a dark neutral color.

Creative Black Tie: Think “black tie” with some fun elements! You can “give your tuxedo a festive look with a pop of color via the bow tie or pocket square,” -Ryan Wagner of Bespoke Edge. “In traditional black tie attire, the bow tie is black and matches the satin facings of the lapel, but when you have some creative freedom, it’s OK to wear a bright and colorful bow tie. Or a pocket square other than white. Maybe even a boutonniere!” And for the ladies, wear your favorite bright jewelry or fun shoes!

Semi-Formal: A dark colored suit is a must for this one, or go with a little black dress or a more formal skirt with nice shoes!

Festive Attire: This category is typically reserved only for the holidays, so you may run into it as the year comes to a close! Dress in cocktail attire (no ugly christmas sweaters here) with fun festive elements, whether that’s jewelry, ties, or shoes!

With men’s attire, novelty neck ties and sweaters are the standard pick for many guys. But these go-to holiday looks can come off as distracting instead of helping you to look your best. The whole idea is to dress a little more festive than you would for the office. “If you’ve been waiting for the right time to show off that new suit or neck tie, a holiday party is the perfect opportunity,” -Ryan. “If you want to introduce a little holiday color, do so subtly with your pocket square or socks. Just make sure that your sport coat or suit is dialed in.”

Business Formal: Wear a nice suit and tie, a women’s tailored suit, or a pantsuit or pencil skirt!

Cocktail: AKA be well dressed! You can go for dress pants and tops, a tasteful cocktail dress, or dress up more casual bottoms with a sport coat or blazer!

For the men, wearing a jacket is best, but it can be a little more casual than what you might wear to the office. This might mean more of a textured sport coat (as seen below) or it could be a dark blazer. You can, however, choose to leave the necktie at home, but you’ll look better if you wear one!

Business Casual: Wear a nice skirt, khakis or trousers, and blouses and collared shirts. Do consider wearing a fun pocket square, necklace, or shoes to set yourself apart from the crowd!

Casual: Almost anything goes for this category, but still be tasteful! No shoes, no shirt, no service! ;)