Flair had a blast redefining and rolling out a new dress code to a Fortune 100 company. With all the questions and deliberations, we knew Flair’s readers would want a refresher of What to Wear broken down by the event’s dress code.
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE
This is easy for men—wear a tuxedo. It’s a little more complicated for women, who can technically wear anything from a long dress to formal separates to a formal cocktail dress. The best way to figure out what to wear is to dress according to what you expect the host to wear. If you are attending a high-end wedding, wear a gown. If you’re invited to a black tie work function, it’s more appropriate to wear a little black dress with a statement jewelry. Flair Fabulous: A long gown for women and a black tuxedo for men.
DRESS CODE: BLACK TIE OPTIONAL
Men are given the option of either wearing a tuxedo or a dark suit and a tie. A festive straight tie or bow tie allow men more creativity to add flair to your look. Because men are given the option of dressing in a more casual manner, the dress code provides for flexibility for women too. Consider wearing a long dress or a cocktail dress. Flair Fabulous: An ankle-grazing dress and statement jewelry for women. Men, if you already own a tuxedo, get another wear out of it! Otherwise, a black suit with a bow tie for men.
DRESS CODE: CREATIVE BLACK TIE
This is when the host desires you to wear a dressy look that works with a theme “1920s Black Tie” or “Texas Black Tie”. For instance, with a dress code that calls for Texas Black Tie, a man would be dressed appropriately in a tuxedo, bolo tie, and cowboy boots, and a woman could wear a gown and a cowboy hat or big buckled belt. Flair Fabulous: A formal-but-trendy gown for women and a tuxedo with a black shirt for men.
DRESS CODE: COCKTAIL
For guys, this dress code calls for a dark suit with a tie or a sport coat. You can add Flair with a patterned shirt and pocket square. For women, short dresses that are party-ready, plus stiletto’s heels and small clutch purse. Pashmina’s a great way to stay warm on your way and inside the venue. When in doubt, wear a little black dress and dress it up with fun jewelry. Flair Fabulous: A beautiful colored and feminine dress for women and a suit and colorful tie for men.
DRESS CODE: FESTIVE
A dress code that tends to pop up on invitations around the Christmas and New Year holidays. It is cocktail attire with a holiday bent—say a sparkly sequin dress or a red satin skirt. Flair Fabulous: A sequin party dress for women and a suit and holiday-themed tie for men.
DRESS CODE: BUSINESS FORMAL
The dress code suggestion at many daytime semi-formal events (particularly work lunches and conferences), this dress code calls for a suit and tie for the guys (navy, black, gray, tan all acceptable) and a tailored dress or a pantsuit for women. The idea is to wear something business appropriate that also feels dressed-up. Great shoes are a must. Accessories will make your look more unique.
Flair Fabulous: A pantsuit for women and a suit and tie for men.
DRESS CODE: BUSINESS CASUAL
Most corporate offices have a dress code that allows at least Friday as business casual. Guys can wear slacks or chinos and a collared shirt. Women can wear pants and a blouse or a casual dress. Typically, no jeans or sneakers are allowed. Flair Fabulous: Black trousers and a feminine top for women and khaki pants and a pressed, collared shirt for men.
DRESS CODE: SMART CASUAL – For companies that are no longer business formal but desire a more dressed up look than casual. It allows you to break up your business suit and wear it in pieces. This dress code requires getting the informal style right without being too casual at the same time. Men can pair a blazer with a patterned shirt and a pair of jeans/casual pants, or suit pants and sweater, with brogue boots. Women since leggings and jeans are usually on the restricted list, wear your pencil skirt with a white button down blouse and field jacket or cardigan and booties. Flair Fabulous: Colored, straight leg or skinny pants, a tailored blouse & Jacket and ankle boots for women. For men a sport coat, possibly a vest and patterned shirt with fitted jeans or tailored slacks and brogues or loafers.
DRESS CODE: COMPETITIVE CASUAL – This is Smart Casual post 6pm (this is not athletic workout wear). It’s about fitted pants, fabulous tops, designer logos and heels. It’s about women dressing for other women to admire her. It’s about trading in your mom / work tote for a cute little clutch and the free-attitude that comes with it. It is about “oohing and ahhing” over each other with love and possibly a little envy but not jealous.
Flair Fabulous: Dark, skinny jeans or leather leggings with an adorable top, statement earrings and heels. Men, refer to Smart Casual above.
DRESS CODE: CASUAL
Anything goes in this case, including jeans and sneakers, and this dress code usually means you’ll be uncomfortable in anything too dressy. Flair Fabulous: You need to know your audience, a forty-year old’s casual might be too tailored and dressy compared to a college kid.