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Dress Codes Every Gentlemen Must Know – Dressing Occasion Appropriate

Dress codes are about looking good and respecting the event and its attendees.

Whether it’s a black-tie gala, a casual first date, or a business meeting with a social twist, understanding the nuances of dress codes and etiquette can elevate your style and leave a lasting impression.

Here’s a breakdown of the main types of dress codes and what they entail for gentlemen to dress appropriately for every occasion.

White Tie Dress Code

The most formal dress code, white tie, is reserved for the most exclusive events, such as state dinners, royal weddings, and formal balls.

It requires a black tailcoat, a white pique waistcoat, a white wing-collared shirt, a white bow tie, and black patent leather shoes.

The tailcoat is a knee-length coat with two tails at the back, and the white pique waistcoat is a formal vest with a textured fabric.

The wing-collared shirt has a stiff collar with turned-down corners, and the white bow tie is a must-have accessory.

Black patent leather dress shoes complete the look, adding a touch of shine and formality.

Black Tie Dress Code

Black tie is a formal dress code typically seen at galas, award ceremonies, and formal weddings. It calls for a tuxedo, a formal suit with satin lapels.

Opt for a classic black tuxedo with a peak or shawl lapel, a white dress shirt, a black bow tie, and patent leather shoes.

A cummerbund or waistcoat is optional but adds a touch of elegance. The cummerbund is a pleated sash worn around the waist, while the waistcoat is a formal vest.

Formal or Evening Dress Code

For men, a dark suit, a white dress shirt, and a conservative tie are appropriate.

A pocket square adds a touch of personality.

Evening dress code is often seen at weddings, formal dinners, and theatre events.

The dark suit can be navy, charcoal grey, or black, and the tie should be a solid colour or a subtle pattern.

Cocktail Dress Code

Cocktail attire strikes a balance between formal and festive.

It’s often seen at weddings, holiday parties, and art gallery openings.

Men can wear a suit in a lighter colour or a blazer with dress pants.

Experiment with different shirt colours and patterns, and a tie is optional.

For a more casual cocktail look, you can opt for a patterned or textured blazer, a coloured shirt, and loafers instead of lace-up shoes.

Lounge Suit Dress Code

A lounge suit is a versatile option to dress up or down.

It typically consists of a suit in a more relaxed fabric like linen or cotton.

You can pair it with a dress shirt and tie for a more formal look or a polo shirt for a more casual one.

This dress code suits business events, dinner parties, and social gatherings.

The key is to choose a suit that fits well and is made from a quality fabric.

Smart/Business Casual Dress Code

The dress codes for smart casual and business casual attire can be the most confusing, as they vary depending on the occasion and venue.

Generally, it means dressing in a polished and put-together but not overly formal way.

A pair of chinos or dark jeans with a button-down or polo shirt is a safe bet.

This dress code is common for work environments, casual dates, and social gatherings.

Add a blazer or a sports jacket for a more dressed-up look.

Dress Codes for Special Occasions

First Date Dress Code – Make a Memorable Impression

First dates can be nerve-wracking, but dressing well can boost your confidence and make a good impression.

Aim for a smart-casual look that is appropriate for the venue.

A pair of dark jeans or chinos with a tailored shirt and a sports jacket is a versatile option that can be dressed up or down.

Avoid anything too flashy or revealing, and make sure your clothes are clean and well-pressed.

Remember, the goal is to look approachable and put-together, not like you’re trying too hard.

Styling Tips

Choose an outfit that reflects your personality and makes you feel confident. It will show in your demeanour if you feel good about what you’re wearing.

Additionally, consider the venue and the activity planned for the date.

A slightly dressier look, such as a blazer and dark jeans, might be appropriate for a more upscale restaurant than for a casual coffee date, where chinos and a polo shirt might be more appropriate.

Night Out Dress Code – Dressing to Impress

A night out with friends is a chance to relax and have fun, but it’s still important to dress appropriately.

The dress code will vary depending on the venue, but a general rule of thumb is to dress stylishly and comfortably.

A pair of dark jeans or chinos with a button-down or polo shirt is a good starting point.

For a more polished look, add a leather jacket or a blazer.

Styling Tips

Ensure your clothes are well-fitted, your shoes are polished, and your grooming is impeccable.

Accessorize with a stylish watch or a simple bracelet to add a touch of personality.

If you’re going to a club or bar, you should dress up more, but avoid anything too flashy or over-the-top.

Business Dinner Dress Code – Socializing Professionally

Social work events can be great opportunities to network and build colleague relationships.

However, it’s important to remember that you’re still representing your company, so dress accordingly.

The dress code will vary depending on the event, but a general rule of thumb is to dress professionally and polishedly.

A suit and tie are always a safe bet, but if the event is more casual, you can opt for a sports jacket and dress pants.

Styling Tips

Strike a balance between professionalism and approachability. Avoid being overly formal or too casual.

A well-fitted suit in a classic colour like navy or charcoal is always a good choice.

If the event is during the day or outdoors, you can opt for a lighter-coloured suit, blazer, and chinos.

Pay attention to the company culture and dress accordingly.

Wedding Dress Code Etiquette – Celebrate in Style

Weddings are joyous occasions, but they also come with their own set of etiquette rules.

When attending a wedding, it’s important to dress appropriately.

The dress code will be specified on the invitation, but it’s always better to avoid overdressing if you need clarification.

A suit and tie are safe bets for most weddings, but if the dress code is black tie, you can also opt for a tuxedo.

Styling Tips

When choosing your attire, consider the time of day and the venue.

Lighter colours are generally more appropriate for daytime weddings, while darker ones are better for evening events.

Consider the weather if the wedding is outdoors, and choose a breathable and comfortable fabric.

Avoid wearing anything too flashy or attention-grabbing, as the focus should be on the bride and groom.

Swimwear Dress Code Etiquette – Poolside Poise

The Old Money aesthetic favours classic and understated swimwear.

Avoid overly flashy or revealing swimwear; opt for well-fitted trunks in a solid colour or a subtle pattern.

Brands like Orlebar Brown or Vilebrequin offer stylish, sophisticated swimwear options that align with the Old Money aesthetic.

Styling Tips

Choose swimwear that is appropriate for the occasion.

A pair of swim trunks is perfectly acceptable for lounging by the pool or at the beach.

However, consider wearing a linen or polo shirt over your swimwear if you’re attending a pool party or a more formal event.

Avoid wearing baggy or ill-fitting swim trunks, as they can look sloppy and unkempt.

Men’s Styling with The VOU

By understanding the nuances of dress codes and etiquette, you can confidently navigate any social situation and make a lasting impression.

Dressing well is not just about looking good; it’s about showing respect for yourself and those around you.

If you’re still unsure which dress code you need and how to wear it to elevate your style, our expert stylists are here to guide you.

Our personalized fashion styling packages help you style according to the correct dress code for your special occasion, ensuring you project confidence and success.

With over twenty years of front-row fashion and styling events, collabs with haute-couture houses, and a PhD in Luxury Fashion, Laurenti is an expert in crafting personalized looks that depict old-money sophistication.

With years of expertise in high-end fashion collabs and a PhD in Sustainable Fashion, Ru specializes in curating eco-luxe wardrobes for the modern gentleman seeking understated refinement.

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