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Dress Codes: The Differences and What You Need to Know

Posted on July 12, 2021 at 5:05 PM

When it comes to weddings (and other formal events for that matter) dress code is key. With that being said, there are many different types of dress codes. From formal and semi-formal, to black tie and white tie, to even dressy casual, the options are extensive (and they can get confusing). Let’s break it down.


First up, formal dress, also known as black tie optional. Essentially, formal attire is a step below black tie. For men, this means a tuxedo is not necessary, but can still be worn as formal attire is still dressy enough to wear one. Men typically wear a dark suit and tie for formal attire. Women can opt for a floor-length dress, a formal cocktail dress, or an elegant pantsuit.


Next, semi-formal dress, also known as dressy casual. Semi-formal gives guests the flexibility to be more comfortable. For men, this can be a pair of dress pants and a dress shirt. For women, this can be a below-the-knee dress or a formal skirt and top. This dress attire is a great option if you are planning on having an outdoor wedding.


Black tie is a very common dress code choice for many evening weddings. For men, black tie means that a tuxedo is preferred. Typically, the typical tuxedo for black tie is with a black bow tie and patent leather black shoes. For women, black tie attire can include either a formal floor-length dress or even an elegant cocktail dress or pantsuit.


White tie attire is the most formal of the dress codes. It is less common today, but used to be a popular choice in years past. For men, a tuxedo is required (with tail) and dress gloves. Women must wear a formal ball gown paired with jewelry and an elegant clutch.


These are the main dress attire choices, but of course there are more in between (see photo). To conclude, dress codes can get complicated, but hopefully with this dress code guide it can be made easier!


Written by Julia Costello




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