We are so excited to debut a new conversation series on here on the RGI blog, Events 101! In this series we will lift the veil on special events tackling variety of different topics we hope you will find helpful when aiming to be the host (or guest) with the most! We kick off this series with a question our Commander in Chic Rachael Glaws gets asked all too often - What should I wear? Read on for her thoughts on Deciphering the dress code - or - seriously what am I supposed to wear?!?
The excitement that comes with opening an invitation! The hand-addressed envelope arrives, shiny ink shimmering on textured, thick card-stock. You tear it open and admire the care that went into selecting the beautiful design. Your heart starts to quicken as you read the details of what promises to be a fantastic fete – and then it drops as the line ‘Attire: White Tie’ jumps out at you. WELL WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!
Take a deep breath, and don’t panic. It’s true that the nuances between Business, Business Casual, After Five, Resort Formal, White Tie, Black Tie…you get the point … can tempt you to forget the whole affair. But before you do that, pour a glass of sav blanc and take a look at this handy guide to some of the most common terms of attire.
The most common types of formal attire you will see on an invite is either white tie or black tie. Ladies, this is an easy one for you, because your expectation is nearly the same for both. Choose floor length dresses in a seasonal friendly fabric (think luxe velvet or satin in the winter, chiffon or lace in the summer). For Black Tie, gents are safe with a traditional tux, sans tails. Dependant on the host and occasion (think winter, evening wedding at a country club vs. movie premier) a dark suit may also be appropriate. White Tie however, calls for the highest level of formality. Gloves for ladies and white tie, tails and for the traditional, a top hat for our escorts. Should you just see ‘Formal’ on your invite, assume black tie. Need some inspiration? Check out these ideas from one of our fave fashion resources Rent the Runway
Tea length or short dresses are appropriate for ladies (within reason, of course!) Feel free to put your personal style signature into the look while following that guideline. Class after all is ALWAYS appropriate. For the men, stick with a fantastic suit but with the formality level taken down a notch, push the envelope a bit with a pop of color in the tie, or even in the blazer. Occasion is your best dictator of course – but this directive invites revelry (hello, cocktail!!) so a bit of envelope pushing is just fine.
Here is where I tend to see the most variation on a simple dress code. Thusly, it can be one of the hardest to decipher. If you would wear it to a job interview, its probably fair game for this one. The slightly less rigid Business Casual still calls for a bit of button up but with a stylish twist – think a sharp-shouldered blazer over a chic ankle pant. However, unless you work in PR, Fashion, Music or another edgier industry stay away from open toes shoes or denim. Leave those for the even less rigid Casual Chic where either of those items is sure to be a welcome style statement.
If you’re still not sure what to don to a fantastic fete, a few rules of thumb: An evening wedding (beginning after 5pm), unless you are outdoors, will always be a formal affair. Let common sense be your guide and dress for comfort (4 inch stilettos to a beach bbq are probably unnecessary – and a waste of a great shoe!). Ask yourself what your mother would say before you walk out the door and it’s ALWAYS better to slightly over dressed, than underdressed. And for dress code tips down to a science – check out the guide from Miss Manners herself, Emily Post, (Attire Guide: Dress Codes from Causal to White Tie) on the subject.