Black tie, white tie; formal, semi-formal. Festive! Casual! Hitting the right note with attire can be confusing. Here are the details of how to dress appropriately for any occasion:

White Tie

Women

  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Long gloves (optional)

Men

  • Black dress coat (tailcoat), matching trousers with a single stripe of satin or braid in the US; two stripes in Europe or the UK
  • White piqué wing-collared shirt with stiff front
  • Braces, to ensure a good fit
  • Shirt studs and cuff links
  • White vest
  • White bow tie
  • White or gray gloves
  • Black patent shoes and black dress socks

Black Tie

Women

  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Dressy cocktail dress
  • Your dressiest “little black dress”

Men

  • Black tuxedo jacket and matching trousers
  • Formal (piqué or pleated front) white shirt
  • Shirt studs and cuff links
  • Black bow tie (silk, satin, or twill)
  • Black cummerbund to match tie, or a vest
  • Dressy braces to ensure a good fit (optional)
  • No gloves
  • Black patent shoes and black dress socks
  • In summer, in the tropics, or on a cruise: White dinner jacket, black tuxedo trousers plus other black tie wardrobe

Creative Black Tie

Women

  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Dressy cocktail dress
  • Your dressiest “little black dress”
  • Fun or unique accessories

Men

  • Tuxedo combined with trendy or whimsical items, such as a black shirt or a matching colored or patterned bow tie and cummerbund

Black Tie Optional

Women

  • Formal (floor length) evening gown
  • Dressy cocktail dress
  • A “little black dress”
  • Dressy separates

Men

  • Tuxedo (see “Black Tie” above)
  • Dark suit, white dress shirt, and conservative tie
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks

Semiformal

Women

  • Short afternoon or cocktail dress
  • A “little black dress”
  • Long dressy skirt and top
  • Dressy separates

Men

  • Dark, business suit
  • Matching vest (optional)
  • Dress shirt
  • Tie
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks

Festive Attire (usually for the holidays)

Women

  • Cocktail dress
  • Long dressy skirt and top
  • Dressy pants outfit or separates
  • A “little black dress”
  • Feature holiday colors

Men

  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer in color of choice, and slacks
  • Open-collar shirt, or dress shirt
  • Tie—festive or with a holiday theme

Business Formal*

Women

  • Suit
  • Business-style dress
  • Dress with a jacket
  • Stockings (optional in summer)
  • Heels, low or high

Men

  • Dark business suit
  • Matching vest (optional)
  • Dress shirt
  • Conservative tie
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks

Business Casual*

Women

  • Skirt, khakis, or pants
  • Open-collar shirt, knit shirt or sweater (no spaghetti straps or décolleté)
  • Dress

Men

  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer with slacks or khakis
  • Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
  • Optional tie
  • Loafers or loafer-style shoes, and socks

*Always check and abide by your company’s dress code

Dressy Casual

Women

  • Dress
  • Skirt and dressy top
  • Dressy pants outfit
  • Nice jeans and dressy top

Men

  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer, and slacks
  • Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
  • Optional tie

Casual

Women

  • Sundress
  • Long or short skirt
  • Khakis or nice jeans
  • Shorts (depending on occasion and climate)
  • Plain T-shirt (no slogans), polo shirt, turtleneck
  • Casual button-down blouse

Men

  • Khakis or good jeans (clean, no holes)
  • Cargo or Bermuda shorts—depending on occasion and climate
  • Plain T-shirt (no slogans), polo shirt, turtleneck
  • Casual button-down shirt and/or sweater
  • Loafers, sneakers (with or without socks), sandals