The Essential Guide To Men’s Dress Codes

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Dress codes aren’t a very common occurrence in our modern lives, so when you suddenly receive an invitation requesting one, it can strike fear into even the most sartorially savvy. It’s also worth refreshing your knowledge on everyday unspoken dress codes such as business dress or smart casual, because there seems to be a lot of confusion over what is and isn’t acceptable.

It’s important because we’re constantly judged on our appearance and to be underdressed in certain situations can come across as rude and disrespectful, even if we’re not meaning to.

Brush up with the guide to dress codes for men.


White Tie

If you’re invited to a white tie event, consider yourself very lucky as this is the highest in the pecking order of dress codes.

As you might expect, it’s required that you wear a white bow tie, never a black one, a white wing-collar shirt and a white waistcoat if you so wish. However, your trousers and tailcoat – not a standard evening jacket – should be black. Buff up your patent leather shoes and this gives you the basic requirements of white tie dress.

If you’re feeling pretty confident, you can accessorise with a top hat, a pocket watch (remove your wrist watch), a white lapel flower, white leather gloves and/or a cane.




Morning Dress

Morning dress is the most formal daytime attire, you might have seen it on the groom at a wedding or at Royal Ascot.

A morning coat looks very similar to a tailcoat, but make sure you’ve picked the right one! This should be in black or grey and your trousers and waistcoat should be grey. Ditch the wing-collared shirt and put on a white shirt with a turn down collar and wear a respectable tie of any colour.

Finish with a top hat and polished black shoes.




Black Tie

Black is probably more familiar to most for formal dress but there are still some easy faux-pas to make!

A dinner jacket, the same as what Americans call a tuxedo jacket, is traditionally single-breasted with one button and is worn open with a cummerbund covering the waistband. It is also acceptable to wear the updated double-breasted version buttoned up to cover the waistband. A peaked lapel or shawl collar is the proper style.

Complete with a white, turn down collar shirt, black trousers, a black tie or bow tie, cuff links, and polished Oxford shoes.





This dress code is usually a call for women to wear cocktail dresses, but what should you wear to accompany the ladies?

There are no strict rules but wear a suit. Feel free to get creative and try high shine fabrics or current trends like brocade or velvet. Be modern and stylish.




Business Dress

You might have been required to wear business dress for a job interview.

This means a notch-lapel jacket, matching trousers, shirt, tie and lace-up shoes. Coloured shirts and ties are acceptable and your suit could be any widely-respectable colour; black, grey, navy.

Judge the crowd with how much colour or pattern you add, and be aware that the further you stray from convention, you will come across as less formal and potentially more junior.




Business Casual

This is everyday attire for offices. Ties and jackets are optional but do wear a button-up, turn-down collar shirt.

Any shoes except for trainers or sandals are fine and colour and pattern are welcome too.




Smart Casual

Oh the infamous ‘smart casual’ dress code. It gets people in more of a twist than black tie because there are no strict rules, it’s down to your own judgement.

Jeans are usually acceptable in this context, as well as more casual tops such as polo shirts. A button-down shirt is always a good option.

Do your research, understand the crowd who is going to be there and if in doubt, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.




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