If you have received an invitation to a wedding, party, ball, or banquet, there may be a dress code attached. In order to combat today’s come-as-you-are fashions, many event planners and organizers are attaching dress codes to invitations in order to preserve the spirit of the event. Unfortunately, everyone may not understand what those dress codes are and what they mean. The following guidelines cover the most commonly listed dress requirements and will hopefully eliminate confusion about what should be worn. Remember, a printed invitation dress code is not a suggestion, it is a requirement for proper attire. Dressing properly shows respect for the hosts and other guests.
White-Tie Invitation. A formal event requiring a Full-Dress Tuxedo. This is the traditional Black Tuxedo with tails. Worn exclusively with white pique shirt, tie, and vest. Shoes must be patent leather; white gloves are optional. White-tie invitations are extremely rare.
Black-Tie Invitation. A formal event requiring a tuxedo as appropriate attire. It does not mean wearing a black tie with a suit. Don’t be that guy. It should be noted here that “Black Tie” does not literally mean that you must wear a black bow tie, there are numerous acceptable formal fashion accessories and colors compatible with tuxedoes. Tuxedo shirts may be pleated or flat front, a vest or cummerbund should be worn, and formal shoes may be patent leather or soft leather with plain toe.
Black-Tie Optional Invitation. A black-tie optional invitation indicates that the event hosts and many guests may wear tuxedoes, but guests may wear either a tuxedo or a dark formal suit.
Cocktail Casual Invitation. A social invitation requiring Sport coat and slacks, usually worn with an open collar shirt. Very few invitations cause more confusion than “Cocktail Casual.” This invitation trends more toward dressy than casual and is extremely sensitive to seasons of the year and regions of the country.
Casual Invitation. A social or wedding invitation indicates that a dress shirt, or sport shirt worn with casual slacks is appropriate.