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Understanding What the Hell That Dress Code Means

It’s that time of year again. Summer is finally here and Christmas is just around the corner followed by the start of the New Year and the inevitable broken resolutions that follow. You’re on a high and in demand.. it’s party season and the invites are piling up on your coffee table like fat stacks, or your facebook invite page like spam for enlargening your manhood. The office end of year Christmas ball, Benny’s engagment, Mum’s 50th, your cousin’s wedding, Mandy’s 21st… shit, even a funeral.. and yet they all have a different what to wear stamp on them. So to help you out, and guarantee you don’t make an ass of yourself (at least in the clothes department, I can’t be held responsible for your behaviour after one too many egg nogs) I have whipped up this easy guide to understanding what the f*ck that byline means after “Dress Code:”. Let’s run through them from “so dressed up you feel like Benjamin Franklin” to “haven’t got off the couch playing Playstation all day”

– I’ll give you a heads up right now that if you are not-quite-you-average-size.. tall, short, wide or slim you are going to have to preferably get at least one business suit made to size for all your sub black tie occasions, as an ill fitting suit does not the man maketh. A tuxedo you may want to skip as the amount of times you’ll likely have to wear one you could count on one hand –

White tie:

This is THE most dressed up you are ever going to get. If you managed to get on the guest list for a dinner at the White House this is probably the dress code you are going to have to deal with. Good old Readers Digest recommends this one involves “wearing a tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a white collared shirt, a white vest, a white bow tie, and black patent-leather shoes.”  The top hat & gloves are commonly employed also. But let’s be honest, you’re probably not high on the Obama’s guest list.

White Tie

Black Tie:

Tux, white formal shirt, cuff links, black cumberbund or vest, black bow tie, black patent shoes. Make sure your lady date is wearing a floor length gown or the guests may be offended by the sight of her knees. If you don’t have a tux, these are easily rentable at places various places online, just go ahead and do a quick google search in your hood.

Black Tie

*Sticky points:
Black Tie Optional – just go with the tux. If it is really too hard to find one, go for the rules under Semi Formal.
Black Tie Creative – regular old black tie but try something a little different, maybe a red bow tie or a black shirt. Nothing too outrageous unless you are quite sure of the audience!


Business Formal:

A dark coloured business suit, dress shirt, tie and leather shoes.

Business Formal


A suit, dress shirt, tie and leather shoes.

Semi Formal


Again, pretty much the same as semi-formal, a suit, dress shirt, tie and leather shoes.

Business Casual:

Dress pants (any colour), button down shirt, dress shoes (leather), blazer if cool.

Business Casual

Smart Casual:

Blazer, button down shirt, slim fit jeans (not distressed look) or chinos. Any dressier closed toe type shoes (can be leather/canvas if in a garden type setting) but no sneakers.

Smart Casual


Whatever the hell you please. Tees and jeans are definitely in. Best to ask the party thrower if you’re set on wearing your Havs whether they will be allowed at the venue or not. If you’re trying to impress anyone at the event I’d go with the guidelines under Smart Casual.

tall tee and snapback combo

Well that’s pretty much a wrap! If you don’t know the dress guidelines for an event the easiest thing to do is to check in with the host and simply ask, check with a lady in your life if what you’re thinking of wearing is appropriate, or if either of those aren’t your style, generally a button down shirt, some dress pants or chinos and dress shoes fit the bill for most occasions. Invest in a good blazer or two and you are set for the majority of your events.

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