Decoding the Dress Code

Decoding dress code tips, by resident fashion expert Joanne Guidace.

Decoding Dress Codes

With the party season upon us, many invitations with different dress codes can create a source of confusion. This often leaves you not sure on what to wear and lacking confidence as to whether or not you are dressed appropriately for the occasion. 

Below is a summary of the most common dress codes and a guideline on what to wear, to make sure you step out in style every time!

1 Black Tie/Formal

This is usually a formal event or party suited for formal attire. Men should wear black tuxedos or dark suits with a formal shirt with a tie or bow tie.
 Women preferably wear floor length elegant gowns, however classy cocktail dresses that fall below the knee are now acceptable as well. Wear your hair in an elegant up style or partial up style, and add your best jewellery.

2 White Tie

A white tie event is more formal than a black tie event. The dress code means that men wear full formal attire, with a white tie, vest and shirt. Women only wear floor length elegant gowns and hair is styled and worn up. These types of events are usually charity or society balls. This dress code is less common nowadays.

3 Lounge Suit

Lounge suit dress codes require a suit and tie for men (black, navy or tan) and a glamorous dress for women (floor length or three quarter length). Accessories are key for the ladies, metallics are gorgeous and men, a silver watch and tie (a pop of bright colour to match your partner) is fashion forward.

4 Cocktail

Cocktail dress code etiquette usually means semi-formal short elegant dresses, although these dresses may vary in lengths. Attire for men consists of a jacket, with or without a tie, and long dress pants. Cocktail attire is often more fashion-forward with varied coloured suits and shirts. You can have a lot of fun!

5 Business Attire

On the scale of formality, business attire is more formal than casual but less formal than cocktail attire. Business attire consists of, for men, a suit (usually dark in colour), including a pair of pants with a matching jacket. The suit is worn with a long-sleeved shirt and a tie or a polo shirt with dress pants. Informal attire for women in its strictest interpretation is patterned after the male standard — a suit consisting of a jacket with matching skirt or trousers, plus a blouse.

6 Smart Casual

This one usually holds the most confusion amongst the dress codes. Generally, safe attire for a smart casual is office attire with some added accessories – to ‘dress up’ the office attire. A smart jacket and closed shoes or heels is recommended. If you go for jeans, your denim should look a little dressy, fresh and sharp. A great tip for the girls, add a blazer for an extra touch of class.

7 Casual

Casual dress is more laid back to any other dress code. You can wear anything from a cotton blouse to a T-shirt. Appropriate shoes are part of the etiquette dress code; though many assume thongs are suitable, when in fact they are not.


For more information on personal styling contact
Joanne Guidace
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