Formal Occasions: A Guide On What To Wear
Although dress codes may be unwritten, they underlie almost every office environment and special event. The options for business attire vary considerably, and things can get even hairier when it’s time to get ready for an office party or formal occasions. Deciphering the difference between various dress codes can help you feel like you fit in and avoid confusion.
If a dress code is casual, you can get away with wearing jeans, corduroys, khakis and T-shirts. Don’t confuse a casual dress code with streetwear, though. If someone has taken the time to designate a dress code at all, that means that you should give your outfit some thought.
Jeans should be clean and free of tears. They shouldn’t be too baggy or too tight. Dark-wash jeans usually look more put-together than those with a lighter or distressed finish.
Tops should not be wrinkled, and they should fit well. Avoid wearing graphic T-shirts, jerseys or tops with sports logos to the office.
You shouldn’t wear your clubbing clothes to the office no matter how casual the dress code is. Clothing that is too revealing or looks like pajamas isn’t appropriate. Frayed, ragged or raw edges won’t fly. You should feel comfortable, but shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Other dress codes can be a little more complicated, fortunately this guide is pretty useful.
Business casual means different things to different people. If you’re in doubt, you should check with your human resources department or the function’s organizer.
Typically, a business casual dress code lets you wear comfortable, tailored clothing. Think about what you might wear to church or to meet your boyfriend’s mother.
Jeans are usually off limits, but chinos are usually acceptable. Tops should be more tailored than slouchy T-shirts. Look for materials like broadcloth, wool, linen, twill, silk blends, cotton blends and gabardine.
Tank tops may not be suitable for business-casual environments, but you might be able to get away with it if you’re wearing a tailored outfit in a dressy material. Stay away from spaghetti straps or tube tops, however. Consider wearing a cardigan or jacket if you’re not sure whether your sleeve length is appropriate.
A business professional dress code usually requires you to wear a suit or matching separates. You can experiment with fun colors or patterns as long as their balanced with high-quality fabrics and tailored silhouettes.
Whether you’re wearing pants, a dress or a skirt, you should always have a jacket. You can take it off if you’re wearing a blouse or tailored shirt. Your shoes should also be conservative. Open-toed sandals are usually off-limits.
Business formal attire may be required in a conservative work environment. Formal work attire should be modest and neutral. You should wear a suit that consists of a skirt or pants and a jacket. You might be able to wear a turtleneck or shell underneath the jacket as long as it’s made from a professional material. If you’re not sure, stick with a button-down blouse in a neutral hue.
When you’re getting together with colleagues outside of the office, the rules may change. For example, if your boss is getting married, you might get to wear a formal gown. The dress code for office parties is usually listed as one of the following:
- Black tie – Long gowns, extravagant materials
- Cocktail – Dresses or pants made from formal materials; can have fun with colors and patterns
- Smart casual – Similar to business casual; can mix and match pieces and patterns
Adding accessories is a fun way to change up your office look, especially for a wedding or other ceremonial event. In general, your jewelry should get smaller with more professional or formal dress codes. Costume jewelry is appropriate with a smart casual look, but professional attire requires subtler doses of precious gems or metals.