The trick to looking fabulous at any event is working the dress code so the lovelies from the Black Tux have put together your definitive go-to guide for decoding those cryptic codes like "semi-casual" or, even worse, "black tie optional".
For both you and your guy, casual usually means nothing particularly special and includes items that he should already have in his closet.
This tan suit from Black Tux would be perfect
Nice pants, a button-down shirt, a blazer or dinner jacket, and an optional tie. Think about a dinner date to a nice restaurant or a work happy hour event -- that's the vibe.
For you and/or your girl, casual usually means a nice dress, a blouse and skirt combo, or a nice long-pant jumpsuit.
Cocktail hour is pretty similar to casual, it usually means just a bit more dressy.
This charcoal suit from Black Tux would definitely work!
Definitely a dress would be best for cocktail hour--no more skirt and blouse.
Creative Black Tie
Personally my favorite of all the dress codes, this is the time to get creative with your fancy dress!
This gorgeous rose shawl tuxedo jacket would be perfect!
Guys pull out your powder blue jacket, or those tartan pants, and don't forget your dress shirt and tie! Keep it simple, but fun.
For the ladies on this one, I would recommend either a 3/4 or full length dress, no shortie short dresses for anything with "black tie" in the title. That, of course, doesn't mean you have to be boring!
Black Tie Optional
Break out your tuxedos, boys! The same level of formal as 'creative black tie', but unfortunately a little less colorful.
A midnight pin dot tuxedo would do very well for black tie optional
The standard dress code for all weddings, galas, and prom, black tie optional means you break out either a full-on tux or a nice dark suit and crisp dress shirt. A tie is definitely required. This code I think is the hardest because some people could show up in a standard work suit, and others in full-on tuxes. I would rather be over-dressed than under so my advice is to always dress up rather than down.
Definitely a full-length dress, not too loud or revealing would be the best bet. And, it goes without saying, if you're attending a traditional wedding where the bride will be wearing white, don't wear white.
This classic peak lapel tuxedo is perfect for anything black tie
Boys, pull out those tuxedos, starched white dress shirt, tie or bow tie, and perhaps either a vest or cummerbund, both of which are optional.
Not much different from black tie optional, make sure you go floor-length without too much flash, skin, or lack thereof! You don't want to steal anyone's thunder at their wedding, but there's never a reason to wear a dress you don't enjoy and will wear again. These dresses are investments! (Unless it's a hideous bridesmaids dress, can't help you there)
Increasingly uncommon (at least in 'normal' everyday events), white tie is the fanciest of the fancy. You have a butler and a huge mega mansion and a yacht docked in France-level fancy.
An example of classic white tie
Guys, unless you attend the Opera's opening night every year, you'll have to rent this one. For a classic white tie look you'll need a black coat with the tails, a starched white shirt, a white bow tie, and a white cummerbund.
Dress-wearers of the world unite, this is your time to shine. Besides your wedding dress (if you go for the all-out wedding gown) this might be one of the fanciest dresses you'll ever wear.
Many thanks to the wonderful folks over at the Black Tux for suggesting this post, I had a lot of fun researching it and definitely bookmarked several dresses to add to my collection!