Dress code is an indication of the desired outfit of the guests at parties and other gatherings. If there is a dress code in a invitation, appropriate clothing should be worn by the hosts and guests. We live in a modern society where clothing codes are really no longer needed. A dress code is justified at a more formal event where it is not obvious to the guests what clothing is appropriate. The purpose of a dress code is to make it easier for the guests and avoid that some guests feel uncomfortable as a result of different clothing. It is therefore important to use an established dress code whose importance is well known because otherwise the purpose is lost. It is usually considered less useful to explicitly write out what is to be worn as a dress code indicates the level of dress.
At informal gatherings in an established circle of friends dress codes usually does not need to be specified. If there is not anything written about the dress code it is now days up to you to choose what to be wearing!
Some dress codes have been established and used for a long time but even in these cases it is has been influenced of the repeatedly changing fashion.
The following dress codes are numbered from 1 to 5, if you know these you will have a good knowledge of how to dress.
When tailcoat or "White tie" is specified in the invitation it means that you should be dressed to the teeth! You can't use any daily party outfit. Men should be wearing tailcoat or a military uniform. If you do not own a tailcoat it is often easy to rent one. Unfortunately it is not acceptable to use either tuxedo or a dark suit. White vests should be used and wristwatches are a no no.
Number two in the rankings is tuxedo or "black tie", it is the second finest in the level of dress. Tuxedo is not to be used before five in the afternoon. You can use a black or a dark blue tuxedo, there should be silk stripes on the pants. On the feet you use black socks and patent-leather shoes. However you can even use well-kept thin black low shoes. The trousers are held up with black and white suspenders. Traditionally the shirt has narrow pleats but you can also use a tuxedo shirt with woven brocade pattern. However never use a plain white shirt. White tuxedos are only used in the warmer latitudes for example at a summer outdoor party or on board a ship/boat. A tailcoat or dark suit is not to be used when smoking is recommended.
3. DARK SUIT
Number three is dark suit. We are talking strictly fancy! A suit in dark gray, blue or black. Traditionally however the black suit has been reserved for funerals. To this you can wear a white shirt and tie or a bow tie in any colour (except black or white but do use a patterned bow tie).
4a. JACKET under the old dress code.
Dress code "jacket" for gentlemen means a full suit and regarding old dress codes it means that the man wears a dark suit, the darker the better. To write jacket on the invitation does still mean that you need you to be finely dressed but the “jacket” is still entitled to place number four in the degree of dress codes. Depending on the type of event, you have a quite large choice with a jacket, shirt, tie or bow tie. White shirt raises the level of fineness.
4b. JACKET under the current Dress Code.
If the jacket is imposed today it means that the man should be wearing a full suit but now days the suit does not need to be dark! Light jackets are suitable for summer weddings. In informal gatherings pants can be uneven but shirt and tie should be worn.
5. CASUAL DRESS "Casual"
This is the most relaxed level regarding the Dress Codes. You can well be a little bit finely dressed but with great simplicity. Pants, shirt and a cardigan are fine. A loose jacket is also possible. Jeans should not be worn. Tie is not necessary and shoes can be brown even after 6 pm.
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Other dress codes which can appear in an invitation
Morning coat is a morning dress. It is a British festival attire worn until 3 in the afternoon. You use it to weddings and baptism, you can use it afterwards if dinner is on the schedule. It is a gray or a black jacket that you wear buttoned up. This jacket you wear with gray and black striped pants, with gray suspenders and buttons in white or pearl. A west belongs, it is gray and you do not undo the bottom button. A necktie or plastron goes well with it. The necktie is preferably dark and the plastron should be gray in it's design. If you want you can have a plastron-pin of pearl or gold. If you choose a dress suit shirt you should wear a plastron but you can have a plain white shirt with the necktie.
It is not clear what smart casual refers to. This dress code should therefore be avoided but unfortunately it is used often. The context may give a clue but normally it can be assumed that the clothes should not be broken, worn or dirty and not too garish. Avoid excessive leisure-like dress or work attire and do not come in sandals or trainers, but treated shoes should be worn. Some places directly says no in terms of jeans while others think jeans if they are whole and clean and not "suspended" is perfectly acceptable. Men should not wear shorts.
If there is no dress code, the guest select themselves what they want to wear.
Clothing Codes for ceremonies and other festive occasions.
Most bridal couples know their acquaintance circle well and put the clothing code thereafter.
Only the bride should wear a white dress at a wedding. White spots that do not dominate the dress is acceptable. At a wedding, guests should not wear mourning clothes, even when grief colours are worn joy full colours should take over, albeit temporarily, during the wedding.
For the wedding you can always use the homestead suit regardless of the dress code that has been set, which would otherwise be appropriate only when evening dress or mess kit has been mandated. And remember! Men take off their hats indoors. If the wedding is outdoors men should also be taking the hat off.
At a funeral dark suit is worn by male funeral guests, with black tie to the white shirt.
Light clothing is sometimes given at the funeral. It may be at the funeral of a child. Obviously black clothing should be avoided in these cases. Blue or gray suit with white shirt and gray or dark blue but black tie may not be appropriate attire for the man.
A dissertation is open to the public, no specific dress code applies here. The colour is optional, including black.
For long it was unthinkable to go to finer restaurants without having to dress up. Still there are more exclusive restaurants that forces you to wear a tie or restaurants where they dislike the gentlemen who wears no jacket. With the change in pub and club culture that has emerged in recent decades the rules in many places is blurred out. Most restaurants rarely requires a dress code. The wise are right to always book a table at a restaurant and then check what dress code applies. In any case you do not go to a finer restaurant wearing shorts and sandals but long trousers, shirts and ordinary shoes (not sports shoes). At an exclusive or fine restaurant it probably can be up to the individual to try to determine what to wear. An indication is the price: the more exclusive location, the more expensive food and the more exclusive wine list, the greater requirements of the restaurant on its guests.
Dress code is something that differs from culture to culture and from country to country. This means that the best is to talk to local people to learn more about what is applicable. If, for example invited to someone's home or to an official event it may be appropriate to ask what values that apply.
First of all, always use common sense. You should look at how local people are doing and dressing. But remember that they may have a specific reason to do in a certain way that may not work for a tourist.
The key words are common sense, respect and consideration.
As a tourist you are a guest in a country, working as an unofficial representative of your own country. It is not nice if your country has a bad reputation abroad just because you can not behave properly. Note that just because others do not follow fashion code there is no reason that you should not. Just remember to add your personal touch.
Do not wear sunglasses indoors unless you are visually impaired or blind and they must be worn. Headgear is not worn indoors. One exception is women with designer hats but these mainly are worn on special occasions.