Dress Codes Explained!

Invitations to Holiday Events start arriving right after Halloween.Many invitations specify a dress code.Here are some of the common dress codes I am seeing this season broken down for you to easily understand.There are 3 types of events you may be invited to each one requires that you dress appropriately.

Formal and Semi Formal

Black Tie

For Men-It is clear you have to wear a tuxedo.Make sure you rent one asap,rentals can get scarce around this season.Also pair it with the right accessories.

For Women-If it is a high-end wedding or a charity gala it requires you to wear a gown. If it is a work related function like an awards dinner you can wear a formal cocktail dress but make sure you accessorize it to the hilt. Your hair and makeup should be elegant and elevated at the same time. If you have any doubts, the best way to figure out what to wear, is to dress according to what you expect the hostess to wear. Do go online and look at the space and pictures of prior events.Social media coverage from last year’s event is the best place to get a lot of visual cues. This will guide you to select the best option.If you do not want to buy a gown you can easily rent one.




Black Tie Optional or Creative Black Tie

For Men-One of the murkier dress codes, men are given the option of either wearing a tuxedo or a dark suit and a tie or bowtie. If you chose to wear a suit make sure it is with a white shirt and step up your accessories specially your shoes.

For Women-The Dress code is a little more open here, you can wear anything from a long dress to a fun cocktail number. If you opt for pants make sure you pair them with a very extravagant top. Think of it like this: You aren’t expected to look as if you’re en route the Oscars, but you should still make an effort to dazzle. Hair, makeup and accessories should be stepped up and try and wear the highest heel you are comfortable with.




For Men-For guys, this dress code calls for a dark suit preferably with a tie,stripes and plaids are great. This is an opportunity to have some fun with your shirt adding print, color or texture. Dress it up with a fun pocket square.

For Women, short dresses that are party-ready. If you feel like wearing separates go for a pencil skirt or cigarette pant with a lace or beaded top. Stay away from a traditional suit but try a velvet jumpsuit or tuxedo with statement accessories for a more fun look with a little edge. When in doubt, wear a little black dress or a little red dress and dress it up with fantastic jewelry and over the top shoes.. Cocktail attire is meant to be fun.A lace dress is perfect this season.




Dress code that tends to pop up on invitations around the holidays, festive attire is similar to cocktail attire, but with a holiday bent, for men that could be a holiday tie or bow tie.You could also do a fashion forward blazer in a bright color.Velvet blazers for men are very popular this season. Women this is the time to have a little fun opt for red, purple, pink or sapphire blue and add a holiday themed necklace or clutch. This is a great place to opt for the metallic trend specially the silver shine we are seeing this holiday season. Make sure you look is glamourous, stay away from holiday sweaters and holiday hats.


If you are planning to buy a dress this season make sure you read this post  https://sunilr.com/find-your-perfect-dress/


Work Related


For Men this is a dress code suggestion at many daytime semi-formal events (particularly work lunches and conferences), this dress code calls for a suit and tie if you are in a more formal industry or a shirt and blazer for a more creative industry. Do go for a grey or suit instead of black and use this opportunity to sport some pattern.

For Women a tailored dress or a pantsuit or skirt suit. Make sure you go with a very feminine blouse, as it is the holiday season. Color is a great way to stand out here,try red,sapphire blue or wine tones. The idea is to wear something business appropriate that also feels dressed-up. Your outfit is your real star here so keep your accessories sleek and simple.


Business Cocktail

For Men-This is pretty much the same as cocktail it calls for  dark suit with a tie.Again step up your accessories and shirt so it does not look like a normal work outfit.

For Women-This is pretty much the same as business,it is telling you not to wear anything too revealing or sexy as cocktail dresses can sometimes be.Again step up your attire with fun feminine and glam accessories.


Business Casual

For Men-A great pair of pants or chinos with a collared shirt, you can add a cashmere sweater in a fun color. No jeans and sneakers and do stay away from hoodies.

For Women-This is the opportunity to wear a fun top paired with a great pair of black pants or a pencil skirt. A simple sophisticated dress works just as well, pair it with a pastel cashmere cardigan and marijanes for this seasons key statement. Do sport a monochromatic dark floral print with pop color accessories.


Smart Casual

For Men-his dress code calls for a dressier version of your casual look.Dress up your favorite jeans with a blazer and leather sneakers. Pair a casual pant with dress shirt and boots. To find the perfect balance make sure at least one item in your outfit is from the dressier section of your closet.

For Women-Dress up your go-to pair of pants with a fun pair of shoes and a wow top. If you chose to wear jeans make sure they are not too distressed and mix them up with heels and a fun jacket. Your outfit should be all about comfort and confidence.


Social-Friends and Family


For both men and women this can end up being a minefield. It is best to stay away from team logo attire and sweats. If you keep in mind that after all this is an event,even if it is in someone’s home so put some effort in to your appearance. Do not wear the clothes that you lounge around in and the same time try not to look like you came straight from work. Your host wants you to be comfortable and focus on all the fun that is going to take place. So make sure your outfit does just that.



We are seeing more of these around the holiday’s parties, people love to be creative and add a special twist to their holiday event. Do wear something that reflects the theme of the evening as your host is putting a lot of effort into the decor, music and food. If the theme reflects a particular decade like 70’s disco or 50’s glam stay away from the costume shop and go with vintage clothing or contemporary clothing that reflects that era. Go more for tasteful than kitsch unless it is an ugly Christmas sweater party then by all means throw taste right out of the window.This is a big trend this holiday season and stores are full of amazing options.


Even if you are not into dressing up sport a couple of accessories that reflect the theme they will enable you to get in the spirit of the evening and have fun. A hat,earrings or a scarf that reflects the theme is usually a good bet.



 When in doubt always dress better than expected!