Your Dress Code Cheat Sheet
What to wear to any event, from weddings to bar mitzvahs
Weddings. Corporate events. Your nephew’s bar mitzvah. Seems like any and every event these days has a dress code. But what the heck does “beach formal” or “white tie” really mean? We put together a cheat sheet that demystifies the most cryptic terms on invitations. (While you’re at it, check out our guide to wedding-appropriate attire.)
Casual Err on the side of business casual--and leave the jeans, shorts and flip-flops at home.
Dressy Casual Go for seasonal look that’s a step above casual. For spring and summer, try a sundress with heels or dressy sandals or a jumpsuit. Men can’t go wrong with a blazer (linen or light colors for warm weather) and a button-down or polo. Ties are optional.
Cocktail Also known as semiformal. A LBD and statement jewelry is a safe bet. Men should opt for a dark suit and tie.
Beach Formal Throw on a maxi dress with flat sandals (no flip-flops) and your man should wear either a summer suit or khakis with a button-down.
Barnyard Chic OK, it may not say exactly that on the invite. But if the event is in a barn or on a farm, you have permission to wear cowboy boots with a dress. Men can throw a bolo tie or just go casual with a polished denim shirt and trousers.
Black Tie Women should don a long gown and men should sport a tuxedo.
Black Tie Optional A.k.a. formal. Wear a long or short dress with statement jewelry. Men should wear a dark suit with a tie or bow tie.
White Tie This is the most formal dress code and usually reserved for balls and state dinners. Wear a floor-length evening gown with long gloves and put your man in a white wing-collared shirt, white bow tie and vest, satin-striped trousers and a black tailcoat. (The daytime equivalent is typically called Morning Dress.)