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Dress Codes Decoded

Dress Codes Decoded

From engagement parties to weddings, work functions to birthday parties, many invitations you receive will come with a dress code. But what do these dress codes mean and how can you be sure to wear the most appropriate outfit?

Whether it is a function you love or a function you just can't get out of, we are happy to give you an explanation of dress codes so that you can always be dressed to impress.

White tie is the most formal dress code – and the more formal the dress code the less room for interpretation or variation. Men should wear a black single-breasted tail coat and a white shirt, along with a white bow tie and white waistcoat. Depending on your own personal style you may wish to consider adding a top hat, pocket squares, or even a walking stick.

Black tie is the more common dress code for formal events. This look consists of a black single-breasted dinner jacket, black trousers and a black silk bow tie. This suit should be paired with a white dress shirt and black patent leather shoes. A while breast pocket handkerchief completes this look.

Cocktail dress is where the rules start to become more fluid. Cocktail is more casual than both black and white tie, however it is not an entirely dressed down affair. In most instances you should wear a black suit and there may be the chance to add some personal touches, such as a shirt with an individual style and colour. If the event is in the evening, French cuffs can help to dress up your outfit slightly. Bowties are barred from entry, but pocket squares can come out to play, particularly if they are matched to your shirt or tie.

Lounge-suit invites more variety. For this dress code, men typically wear dark coloured suits with lighter coloured shirts and ties. Consider a suit in navy or grey, perhaps even a three piece to add an extra air of distinction. However, leave any striped suits for the office. Classic cufflinks are a must.

Smart casual is the favoured look of the Australian party scene. This term is used to describe a more dressed up version of the casual look, so jeans, shorts and t-shirts are to be locked in the wardrobe with the key thrown away! A tie is optional, although a collared shirt remains a must. Your trousers and jacket can be separate colours and this casual look gives you the opportunity to accessorise with loafers or high-end sneakers if you wish, but stay away from shoes with details or visible stitching.

If in doubt, our advice is to dress up rather than down. You can always take off the jacket, untie your tie or untuck your shirt but trying to upgrade a casual ensemble is much harder. The more casual the dress code, the more room you have to experiment, so enjoy putting a bit more of your own personality into your event look!

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