Decoding the Dress Code
Summer is the time of year when everyone decides to get married, graduate, have baby showers, throw big parties, and any other big life event that may or may not be necessary to celebrate. Sometimes, deciding what to wear to said events is an event in and of itself!
Many questions and concerns come into play when picking out an outfit. You don’t want to be overdressed, but you don’t want to be underdressed. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, but you want to be noticed. You simply want to be dressed appropriately for the occasion without the hassle.
If your mailbox has been stuffed full of invitations, here are a few tips and tricks to decode the dress code for your summer events.
The Invitation Says It All.
Especially in the case of weddings, the invitation is often the most telling hint as to what the happy couple expects of their guests. If the invite is worded formally and has a very classic design, the expectation is that guests will be in cocktail attire. In other words, ladies in dresses and heels, guys in dress pants, dress shirt and tie.
The venue provides another helpful hint for you. Keep in mind that church weddings and events require a bit more clothing than outdoors or other locations. If you’re planning on going strapless, bring along a cardigan or shawl to cover your shoulders out of respect and consider the length of your dress. This is especially true for certain religious ceremonies. Do your research if you’re not sure what the customs are. It’s good to be noticed for what you’re wearing if it’s for the right reasons.
When in Doubt…
Like your mom has probably told you a few times, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than way underdressed. If the event seems to be dressy but you’re not sure just how dressed up to be, bring two pairs of shoes and two sets of accessories. It sounds tedious, but when you show up all blinged out for a baby shower and everyone else is wearing sundresses and flats, you’ll be thankful you’ve got a quick accoutrement swap in the car.
If you’re still worried, don’t be shy; Ask the person throwing the event what the attire will be. If you’re not that close to this person, ask a friend/relative or two what they’re wearing.
“A Black Tie Affair”
If the party committee is highly particular on the form of dress, they will most likely include a section on the invite that dictates what is expected of guests. Here is a quick list of common dress code terms you might see and examples of suitable looks:
*Formal: Generally requires evening gowns (some allow for cocktail dresses). A sleek, long-gown or ball gown works.
*Semi-Formal/”Black-Tie”: Still formal, but the length of the dress does not matter. A little black dress with heels would be appropriate.
*Informal: Still dressed up, but less strict. A short dress with a cardigan and flats is a proper approach. Many weddings commonly consider informal attire appropriate.
*Business Casual: Relaxed, but neat and professional in appearance. Dark-wash trouser denim, a nice tucked in blouse and a cute cardigan with heels and light accessories would be acceptable.
*Casual: Most relaxed. Usually this means wear what you would on any other day. Shorts and a tee-shirt would be fine.
As always, dress yourself with confidence. Chances are, even if you are slightly under- or overdressed, someone else there will be too. As long as you’re not wearing a long white gown to the wedding or a bikini to your friend’s baby shower, you will be just fine.
By Courtney Johnson