How to Dress Properly According To the Invitation

Invitation Dress

Did you know there’s a difference between “semiformal” and “dressy casual”? Here are the finer points of proper dress. You will need the dress code and clothing choices.

Step 1. If the invitation says “white tie,” men should wear a black tailcoat with a single stripe of satin or braid; a white pique wing-collared shirt with the stiff front; a white vest, white bow tie, and white or gray gloves; and black patent leather shoes and black socks. Ladies should wear a floor-length evening gown. In Europe, the man’s tailcoat should have two stripes.

Step 2. For black tie, men wear a black tuxedo jacket and matching pants; a pique or pleated front white shirt; a black bow tie; a black cummerbund or a vest; black patent leather shoes, black socks, and no gloves. Women can choose between a floor-length gown or a short, dressy cocktail dress. In the summer or on a cruise ship, wear a white dinner jacket and black trousers.

Step 3. When the invite reads “black tie optional,” men have the choice of a black tuxedo or a dark suit, white shirt, and conservative tie. Women have three choices: a gown, a cocktail dress, or dressy separates.

Step 4. For “creative black tie” men can add a touch of whimsy to a black tux, like a colored or patterned bow tie. Women can jazz up their gown or cocktail dress with a feather boa, interesting shawl, or eye-catching jewelry.

Step 5. Wear a dark business suit with a white shirt and conservative tie to a “semiformal” even if you’re a guy, and either a cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and blouse if you’re a woman.

Step 6. Think “bright,” “sparkly,” and “colorful” when the invite says “festive attire,” which is basically cocktail party attire business suit for men, and a cocktail dress or dressy pants outfit for women with a holiday-themed accent.

Step 7. Men, wear a sports jacket or blazer, slacks, and an open-collar shirt if the invite says “dressy casual” or “business casual.” Ladies, wear a dress, a skirt with a fashionable top, or a sleek pantsuit for dressy casual and a skirt or slacks, and a shirt or sweater for business casual.

Step 8. Look good in whatever you’re wearing and you can get away with breaking some of the previous rules. Did you know nearly 40 percent of managers feel their workers dress too casually, according to one survey?


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