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7 Ways to Decipher Dress Codes on Party Invitations

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Attire is a very important element that can make or break an event. It is also imperative for both the host and the guests to have a common understanding of what the dress code entails. Here is a little guide to help you find the right clothes for each party – from casual to formal:

1. Casual: means the host wants you to be comfortable and at ease, not that you should wear your gym shorts and sweatshirts. Feel free to sport khakis, capris and jeans (darker wash for night time) and flats or kitten heels (think J Brand).

2. Festive or Creative Attire: These terms are a bit different because they describe the mood of the event rather than the formality, which depends on the type of activity and venue. The point is to dress appropriately for the occasion while having fun with your outfit by using colors, sparkle and accessories.

3. Business Casual/Smart Casual: is a dressed down version of business attire. Women can wear full-length khakis or dark-wash jeans with a collar shirt or blouse, complete with a vest or casual jacket. Take cues from Kate Middleton’s outfit at the Olympics.

4. Business Attire: Imagine what you would wear to a job interview. It translates into a pant/skirt suit or conservative dress for women and a dark suit for men.

5. Cocktail Attire/Informal/Semi-formal: It’s important to note that informal is semi-formal and not casual. These codes call for an alluring cocktail dress (often knee-length) or dressy separates, such as pencil skirts or tailored pants with blouses.

6. Black Tie/Formal: Women should opt for fancy cocktail dresses or floor-length gowns, high heels and an elegant clutch. Think red carpet-appropriate garments. Check out Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds in their formal getup.

7. White Tie: is the most formal dress code that is usually reserved for state or royal events (think the Oscars). A floor length gown for women, with or without gloves, is a must (except daytime functions like Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubliee). Men will need to wear a tailcoat, waistcoat and wing-tip shirt.


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