Tuesday Tips & Tricks: Always Appropriate


In an era when most people live in jeans (oh wait, is that just me?), receiving an invitation in the mail with "Black Tie Only" or "Dressy Casual Preferred" at the bottom can leave you asking, "so what do I wear?"  I'll tell you.   

Now in this instance I see no need to reinvent the wheel.  I'm going to borrow from Thomas Hart's article on HowtoDoThings.com for this one.  Mind you, Mr. Hart appears to be a bit of a snob, judging from his opinion of party hosts that request casual attire (see below), but we'll forgive him because the information is concise and to the point... just like I like it.  Since he covers the men's attire in good detail, I've added some pictures of the women's dress to clarify further.  Here we go...   

Here are the possible phrases you'll see on your invitation:   

  • White Tie: The most formal possible. Women wear full-length gowns with a crinoline. Men wear black pants, a black tail coat, white tuxedo shirt with bow-tie and a top hat with optional white kid gloves.

  • Black Tie/Formal: Second on the formal scale, this includes a straight gown for women and, for men, a black tuxedo with no hat.

Evening Gown (Black Tie/Formal)
  • Semi formal/Informal: This actually does not mean 'informal' in the way you or I would naturally use the word, but it is less formal than the first two options. The men are in black suits and the women in dark knee-length dresses. 

  • Cocktail: Men wear dark suits and women wear fun knee-length dresses, 
  • Dressy Casual: Men wear blazers or sports jackets, a white dress shirt and black dress pants, while the ladies wear skirts and blouses.
  • Business: Men wear blazers or sports jackets with a coloured shirt and khakis or dark denim. Women can wear skirts or dress pants. 

  • Casual: Either gender what they please, within reason. Use good judgement if the host or hostess is un-classy enough to mistakenly allow this type of dress at his of her party.

"Here are the specific instructions for a men's Black Tie dress code.  

Step 1:

You need to wear a white tuxedo shirt. This means one with vertical pleats on the chest area and French cuffs (the ones that allow for the use of cuff links).   

Step 2:

Wear a black tuxedo. This does not include one that has tails, but please be sure that the pants to the tuxedo have the obligatory black satin strip running down the outside seam of the leg and satin lapels.    

Step 3:

You need a black silk neck tie.   

Step 4:

Black patent leather shoes are a must. This means the high gloss leather ones. And refrain from wearing the velvet tuxedo slipper in the day.   

Step 5:

Remember your silver or gold cuff links.   

Step 6:

A thin black belt or thin black suspenders.   

Step 7:

A cummerbund is optional, and must be black. This should be worn with the fold facing upwards.   

Step 8:

Black sock are absolutely not optional; they are necessary with dark pants.   

Step 9:
Do not wear a top hat and white kid gloves. But a white silk scarf can be worn outdoors in the cooler months. 


Yes, this type of dress code is very formal. And no, not everyone will obey the rules, but please do not dress down just because you know other silly and misinformed people are going to. There is nothing wrong with being the best-dressed one at the party. Just don't out-dress the host or hostess, who should possess the good manners to obey the rules they dictated for the partygoers, rather than going above this to the next level of dress."   

So know you can't say you didn't know!  Hopefully you'll get invited to some fabulous parties this holiday season and you'll be perfectly appropriate!   

Do you have any topics you'd like me to cover?  I want to hear from you!!  Make a comment in the comments section or shoot me an email to: jodi@stylesuccess.net   

If you're looking for a unique gift for someone in southeast Michigan, consider a gift certificate for a personal style consultation with ME!  Check out my site for details: http://www.stylesuccess.net   

HAVE A GREAT WEEK!  And for all my MOT's out there.... HAPPY HANUKKAH!