These rules are important for developing a particular image and sending a message. It’s also a way of creating a cohesive community and feeling of belongingness. Have you ever received an invitation only to be stumped by the dress code?

We don’t blame you! With so many different dress codes out there, it can be difficult to know what to wear, even when the type of dress requested is stated on the invitation. Navigating the difference between informal casual, smart casual, black tie, and white tie can seem like an impossible nightmare. Luckily, we’re here to make occasion dressing a dream rather than a disaster.

The guide to the dress code for all occasions to get right what to wear

dress code

Casual – Informal Dress code

The casual dress code is essentially an open invitation to dress in what you feel most comfortable. Whether you like to wear jeans and a T-shirt or a skirt, shirt, and sneakers, you’ll be okay with this style code. There’s no need to wear heels or overdo the accessories, just wear something that is relaxed and your style.

Dressy Casual dress code

Dressy casual, also known as casual chic, is an invitation to wear that cute weekend look that you love. Slightly more dressed-up than your most casual look, this form of attire is asking you to show off your style. Choose cute separates, such as a skirt and short-sleeve, button-up shirt, and add all kinds of accessories, from jewellery and scarves to quirky sandals and hats. Still stuck? Nice jeans paired with heels is also a winning look.

Smart Casual dress code

Smart casual is a dress code that can often confuse. It sits a notch above dressy casual and a notch below business casual. While jeans are no longer appropriate for women, there are still a lot of options for what to wear. A simple way to pick an outfit is to dress as if you’re heading to a lovely brunch with friends or an ultra-funky workplace. A pencil skirt, top and a cute jacket in pop colour is always a great option. Just choose between heels or dressy flats to complete your look.

Business Casual dress code

Business casual is a standard dress code for offices. While the term can vary depending on your workplace, it generally refers to office-appropriate clothes that are done-up without being overly formal. Aim to look polished with a few more relaxed, fashion-forward touches. A great option for dressing business casual is to wear cropped black trousers, a fun blouse, and some light jewellery.

Business Formal dress code

Business formal is a dress code that is often suggested for daytime, semi-formal events, such as work lunches and conferences. The idea behind this code is to wear something that is essentially a dressed-up version of your best office wear. For women, this can mean anything from a tailored dress to a pantsuit worn with high heels. Keep the colour palette mostly neutral to maintain an air of seriousness.

Cocktail Attire dress code

Cocktail attire calls for at or above-the-knee dress and high heels. A standard dress code for parties, your cocktail dress should appear appropriate yet fun at the same time. When deciding what to wear, choose a playful yet polished party dress that isn’t too revealing. Interesting colours, embellishments, and cut-outs are all great, as long as they stay sophisticated. If you’re still feeling unsure, a little black dress will work as well.

Festive dress code

Festive is a code most often seen on invitations throughout the holiday period. Events that specify this dress code calls for cocktail attire with a holiday-appropriate twist. Choose a cocktail dress with an added bang for a night filled with fun and dancing. Think sequins, jewels, tartan and festive colours, like red and green. Just remember to keep it chic. No reindeer jumpers, please!

Black Tie dress code

While most people have heard of a black tie code, many still feel unsure as to what exactly it means. While men have strict requirements for their suits, the dress code for women is more lenient. To dress for black tie a floor-length dress or gown is the ideal outfit. While you can get away with formal cocktail attire, a long dress is more elevated for the occasion. Choose a sophisticated look with a simple and feminine silhouette in an elegant colour.

White Tie dress code

White tie is the highest level of dress code, so if you receive an invitation with it on, you better be ready to dress to the nines. A full-length ball gown is completely essential for this glamorous occasion. Traditionally, long gloves have also been worn with this code. However, today they are more optional than essential. If you do wear gloves, keep them on while drinking and dancing and take them off for dinner.