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Decode the Dress Code for These 3 Occasions

The invitation says "cocktail attire." The HR department says dress is "business casual." There are so many codes for clothing expectations it can be difficult to navigate. If you find yourself confused by sartorial lingo, read on for the key to dressing for three important occasions.


Unless the wedding invite specifically requests otherwise, it's always a good time to break out your best duds. Remember that what you wear matters and people make judgments about you based on what you're wearing so even if you are usually carrying a weapon, look into specialized CCW dress clothes. If you wouldn't leave the house in anything more formal than jeans, it's time to go shopping anyway. 

For men go with a tuxedo or dark suit. Women should consider a knee-length, or longer, dress in any color but white.

Company Dinners

A business dinner with clients or coworkers may seem like the place to go casual, but these people aren't your friends. You'll have to see them again so keep it professional. Take into account where you'll be dining but even if the location is extremely casual, you shouldn't be.

Men should wear dress slacks or khakis. Shirts should be collared. Women should choose something work-appropriate whether it is pants, a skirt or a dress. Because there are a lot more clothing choices for women it's important that women not go overly formal, dressing more for a wedding than a dinner. A business dinner isn't a party so wild choices need to be kept to a minimum.

Cocktail Parties

On the other hand, cocktail parties fill a strange liminal space where the feel is casual but the look is formal. Similar attire to a wedding is appropriate but because of the casual vibe people can definitely wear more flirty and unique pieces than would be acceptable at a black-tie affair.

When you're unsure what to wear to an event these guidelines should keep you covered.

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