Dresscode: Decoding the Invitation

This time of year (late spring and early summer) there are always so many events going on.  Things like weddings and graduations can be amazing, that is as long as your aren’t stressing the entire time figuring out what to wear (we’ve all been there before).  Looking at the invitation can help so incredibly much sometimes.  But if you don’t know what “smart casual” or simply “casual” means than you better figure it out fast.

Smart/Business Casual- Something nice like what you would wear to work.  No, it doesn’t mean you have to wear your best power suit and heels.  It simply means wear a nice skirt or pair of slacks with a pretty or dressy top.  You want to look put together and nice without looking like youre about to take on Wallstreet.  Sometime, sometimes, you can wear a pair of nice, dark, well-fitting jeans as long as theyre paired with a dressy enough top to make it look more professional.

Casual- You can wear pretty much whatever you want but please try to put in a bit of effort to make yourself look good (I know those hello kitty pajama pants and university sweatshirt are the most comfortable things in the entire universe but they probably aren’t appropriate enough for a party or other nice event).

Cocktail- A nice dress.  Preferably to the knee or possibly tea length.  You don’t want something that gives off a bad impression by being too short or too tight.  If you are at a wedding, remember to never NEVER upstage the bride by what you are wearing.  Its her day to look beautiful and stunning and win the attention of the crowd, not yours.

Black tie- A really nice dress.  While it doesn’t necessarily have to be floor length, it has to look nice, sophisticated, and polished.  You want to come across as elegant.

Black tie optional- You don’t have to dress up in black tie, but if you don’t then go with a nice cocktail dress.

Some invitations don’t even have a dresscode on them.  In those cases I would look at the invitation and decipher what to wear based on the location.  Chances are if its a wedding, you can almost never go wrong with a nice cockatil dress (if the wedding is on the beach or picnic themed, go for a slightly more casual dress that you can easily dress up).  However for different parties and event of that sort (like graduation) here is my general rule of thumb that’s worked multiple time in the past: if it is at someones house casual or smart casual (jeans or casual skirt/dress are probably okay with a nice top) if it is at a clubhouse or country club you probably want to wear a nicer dress.


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