How you dress says a lot about you. But you already knew this, right? Here’s what many people don’t realise: how you dress also says a lot about how you perceive others. If you’re scratching your head, consider how dressing inappropriately for a special event reflects how you feel about that event.
Wearing jeans and a t-shirt to a cocktail party says you don’t really care about the party. Wearing an overly riske mini-dress to a business meeting says you’re not taking business very seriously. Dressing appropriately for an occasion, on the other hand, shows that you care enough about the event to show proper sartorial etiquette. This is why it’s so important to dress for the occasion – and to dress well.
Here’s how you can always be dressed on-point, and in-style.
A casual dress code is a green light to dress however you like – almost. You are going to an event, so need to step-up your look beyond your loungewear. So sweat pants and your bleach-stained T-shirt? No. Jeans and a tank top? Sure thing! You still want to look nice, after all, so pick out a weekend chic look. You can take your favourite basics and add some more style with killer accessories.
Smart Casual Code
Nestled between casual and business casual, smart casual dress code is a little less formal than what you would wear to the office, but more sophisticated than what you would wear to the pub on a Wednesday night. Jeans are no longer appropriate, but you can sport leggings, and shorter hemlines than you’d be allowed to wear at work. Think pencil skirts with a fitted cotton tank top and a scarf, or a pair of faux-leather leggings and a bold yellow sleeveless blouse. Think what you’d wear to brunch on Sunday, but not what you wore to the club on Satur
Business Casual Code
Perfecting the balance of this look can give women a lot of trouble – especially because the definition can change from workplace to workplace. The dos and don’ts are subtle, but easy to master once you get a feel for it. You want clothes that are smart and sophisticated, but they don’t have to be as restrictive as a pantsuit. Think a pair of black pedal pushers with a beautiful blouse, a pair of pearl drop earrings and a pair of cute heels.
Beach Formal Code
Beach formal is a comparatively new phenomenon. Brought to you by the influx of resort events and beach weddings, stylish and easy-breezy is the order of the day. A dressy jumpsuit or a flowy maxi dress are ideal options. Since these looks could come across as too casual in the wrong hands, sport polished makeup and hair to elevate your appearance.
Cocktail Party Code
This one’s easy: you want to wear a dress that falls at or above your knees and a pair of heels. They don’t have to be super high heels – even kitten heels will do – but heels are necessary to ace this look. The LBD is a classic cocktail party selection, but you are by no means confined to this option. Have fun with your style and go for different colours, fits and styles. Play with texture and embellishment. You want sleek, classy sophistication, but you don’t want a snooze-fest.
Business Formal Code
Meetings, conferences and important work lunches will often call for business formal dress. Think pantsuits and tailored dresses. Keep your colour palette neutral to really rock this look, and keep the hemline at or just below the knee. Now is the time to shine with your mindful style.
Semi Formal Code
Semi formal dress is where cocktail party meets a full-on formal affair. Yes, the LBD still works, but you can have a little more fun with cut. Party dresses work here, as do asymetrical cuts. Just ensure your hemline is no shorter than a couple of inches above your knees.
Black Tie Code
It’s a good time to be a woman when there’s a black tie affair. Men have strict dress codes, but women have more room to move. Ideally, you want to a floor-length dress or gown, but a midi dress can make the transition. Sophistication and elegance are primary considerations when selecting a dress in this genre. In other words, keep it classy.
White Tie Code
Finally, your chance to buy that ball gown you’ve always dreamed of. In fact, if you’re going to a white tie affair, a ball gown is non-negotiable. You also need elegant accessories, styled hair and pristine makeup. It doesn’t get any dressier than this, so own it. Long gloves used to be necessary for white tie, but now they are more or less optional. Just be aware that if you wear them, you have to wear them the whole time, except for at dinner, when you can take them off.
Now you know what to wear to just about any event you’ll encounter in your social life. You know how to dress to convey class, respect, and your own personal sense of style. And if you don’t want to show an event the respect it deserves? Save yourself the trouble of finding an appropriately disrespectful outfit and don’t go at all. Remember what your mother said: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”