Dress Code Guide: How to Dress up for Any Occasion


It’s one of the worst feelings in the world to show up to a location underdressed. Not only can it embarrass you, but in certain situations, it can cost you opportunities.

Whereas in the old days, the dress code for formal events was engrained into people’s brains from a young age, these days, you’re expected to figure out this information yourself. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about how to dress up for different situations and what words like “black tie” mean. 

Casual Dress

Casual dress is essentially what’s safe to wear when there are no expectations. There are several articles of clothing, such as certain types of jeans, sweatpants, t-shirts, and hoodies, that are only appropriate to wear in casual settings.

However, it can seem pretentious to come overdressed to a casual night with friends, so make sure you have a good casual wardrobe. 

Dressy Casual/Business Casual/ Smart Casual 

Some people believe these are different dress styles, but we believe they’re all different terms for the same thing — events that aren’t quite formal but aren’t quite usual either. 

Office parties, cocktail hours, church, nights at the theatre, and first dates are all events you might wear in a dressed-up-casual outfit. These outfits can help you look your best since you’re free to dress with personality but still get to class it up a bit.

For men, consider a nice button-down and a pair of slacks. For women, consider a great off the shoulder spring dress

Cocktail Attire 

Cocktail attire is when you step into the world of completely formal attire.

Cocktail attire is standard for adult birthday parties, nights out at fancy clubs and restaurants, and engagement parties. These events share an element of glamor and formality while staying away from the high-stakes trappings of black ties. Because of this, cocktail attire is often considered flirty and sexy.

For women, the famous little black dress is perfect for a cocktail. Other types of cocktail dresses also work well. Men should whip out their best suits for the occasion.  

Black Tie

A black-tie most fancy you’ll have to dress is normal life — even then, you won’t be dressing in it every day. You’ll usually wear a black tie at galas, political parties, fundraisers, and weddings. 

Depending on the event, women should wear floor-length ball gowns or very dressy cocktail dresses. Men should wear dark suits or tuxedos. 

White Tie

Most people will never have to wear a white tie. Generally, it’s only worn at certain extremely high-class charity fundraisers, government ceremonies, and the opera. 

For women, a floor-length ball gown is a must, as are opera gloves. Men must wear a white tie and coattails. 

Understand How to Dress Up 

Everyone knows that it’s important know how to dress up. However, what gets tricky is how much you’re supposed to dress up for every occasion. Understand the requirements for casual dress, business casual, cocktail attire, black tire, and white tie, and you’re far more likely to shine. 

For more articles like this, check out our “fashion” section.