If you’ve received an invitation to an event that includes one of the standard dress codes you know what to do. “Black tie” or “white tie” still means: wear your finest duds. “Business Casual” means you can take it down a notch from your weekday professional attire. These days “Cocktail” can mean your flirtiest LBD, a slinky jumpsuit or even women’s “tux.” If you get one that says “Country Club Casual” just think “preppy” with nice jewelry, like a simple gold bangle or gold choker necklace.
In general, fabric is always the key. The more elegant the event, the richer should be the textile (satin, velvet, silk, suede.) The more casual the event, the more basic the textile should be (cotton, linen, corduroy, denim, leather.)
But as our social and professional worlds have expanded there have emerged some new categories that might leave you scratching your head about what to wear. So we’re going to try to unravel them here for you.
“Creative” Black Tie: This is still formal attire but the host wants you to have a little fun or go a bit wild: think colorful, sexier, or costume-y. You can be more experimental with pattern or material. Sometimes there will be a theme to this kind of event, (e.g. “Flapper,” “Royal Wedding,” or “Pirate”) that can give you a clue about what kind of dress to wear. But you’re not feeling that creative, just add a mask!
Festive: You’ll mostly see this type of invitation around the holidays. So that means brighten up the darkest time of the year by wearing something with more sparkle, glitter or shine in tops, pants, and dresses. But at other times of year it can just mean, “Please dress up a bit – this isn’t a barbecue.”
What to Wear to a Destination Formal Wedding…at the beach!
Well, obviously, avoid heels. It’s hard enough wearing heels on grass, let alone sand! Dressy attire here still means longer dresses but in less formal materials or style as befits wearing flats or sandals.
And if no dress code is stated, ask! If you get “wear whatever you want,” then do, but make sure it’s something you will be comfortable being seen in – or appearing on Instagram wearing – regardless of what others are wearing!
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