1) White Tie Party
When it comes to White Tie parties, this is as formal as it’s going to get. If you suddenly find an invitation in the mail from the Royal Family, you can bet dollars to donuts – or pounds to Cornish pasties – that White Tie attire will be mandatory.
Think: Cinderella – not the rag-wearing, floor-scrubbing Cinderella, but the fancy ball gown, long white glove wearing one that had to be home by midnight. Glass slippers are optional. You should sport an elegant updo hairstyle and crack out the taboo red lipstick.
Think: Mr. Peanut – but with more clothes. You’ll need a black tailcoat with matching tuxedo pants, patent leather dress shoes, a white vest, white tie, white wing-collar shirt, and finish it all off with a pair of white gloves. Top hat, monocle, and walking stick are optional.
2) Black Tie Party
Black Tie may be a step down from the formality of white tie, but it is still pretty dressy. This is the type of party that most people associate with formal wear.
Think: White Tie attire, minus the gloves. You can even get away with a shorter dress, something that goes to the knees, but the hair and make-up should stay the same. Throw on a string of pearls, and you are good to go.
Think: James Bond – Roger Moore or Sean Connery James Bond that is. Rent, burrow or steal a black tuxedo, put on a white shirt, black bow tie and matching black cummerbund, and all you’ll need to do is throw on some formal black patent leather shoes to finish off the outfit. Just be careful knocking back those shaken not stirred martinis – they can really pack a punch!
3) Black Tie Optional Party
The ‘Optional’ is usually a trick to see who won’t shell out the few extra bucks to rent a tux. You don’t have to follow the Black Tie rules, but honestly, I think you should.
Think: Black Tie Party. You can always play the optional card and dress it down a little by wearing a cocktail dress, but should you? Should you really?
Think: Black Tie Party. Just like the ladies, you can take the option to wear a really expensive dark suit, just make sure you are also wearing a white formal shirt and conservative tie… but do you really want to be that guy?
4) Business Formal Party
Business formal, Informal and Semi-formal pretty much all mean the same thing. It’s not as formal as Back Tie, but you still need to look, well, formal. Your best bet is to slap on your best office attire. If your office has a laidback, casual dress code, well then you need to do some shopping.
Think: Black Tie Optional Party – but the part where we say that you can dress it down a little. Stick with the conservative cocktail dress or to-the-knees-short elegant dress. You can even throw on a dressy suit is that’s your thing. Please note, no matter how much it hurts me to write it, this type of party is not a time to crack out the sexy, slinky dress. Save that one for the Cocktail Party.
Think: Suit Up! That’s right, the Business Formal party is your chance to suit up. Grab your finest tailored dark suit, wear it with a crisp white dress shirt, and match it with a conservative tie.
5) Business Casual Party
Whatever you do, do not confuse your office casual Friday dress code policy with an invitation to a Business Casual party. Sure, the boss lets you wear jeans on a Friday, but you’ll stick out in a bad way if you attempt to pull off the same look at the party.
Think: Your dressiest version of your casual clothes. Khakis and slacks are fine, but skirts are much better. Pair it with an open collared blouse and smart jacket and you will be good to go.
Think: GQ Magazine. Really, in order to get a good sense for business causal just pick up any issue of GQ. Grab a pair of khakis, a collared shirt – no tie required, top it off with a sports jacket and you are pretty much set. Just make sure you are also wearing the proper shoes, any kind of rubber soled leather shoes will work.
6) Cocktail Party
The cocktail party isn’t just an excuse to get together and have some fancy drinks and nibbles, it an important social event that includes… well, some fancy drinks and nibbles. In any rate, it’s important to dress the part, so it doesn’t matter if the Wilson’s down the street are throwing the party, or the CEO of your company, you’ll want to make sure you are dressed properly.
Think: LBD (little black dress – or in this case, little blue dress). Of course, cocktail dresses are always in style, but here is your chance to wear that sexy, slinky dress you have in the back of your closet. The cocktail party is your chance to let your hair down, or put it up in a messy bun, so add some fun accessories to your LBD, throw on some lip gloss and get out there and have fun.
Think: Business Casual. Unless the invitation states otherwise, business casual is probably your best bet. Go with the khakis, collared shirt and sports coat option, or dress pants, shirt and tie with a nice sweater. Again, GQ will probably be your best resource for outfit ideas.
7) Casual Party
The casual party, or just ‘party’ as most of us refer to it, is typically an anything goes type of dress. You still want to look good, so to dress to impress by throwing on the best and newest outfit in your closet.
Think: A night out at the bar or club with the girls. Let’s be honest, when it comes to looking good, you know what to wear. Just don’t mix up casual with yoga-wear, no matter how much we love those pants.
Think: Clean and New. As long as it’s clean, isn’t full of rips and doesn’t make you look like a total douche, you are probably okay to wear it. There is nothing wrong with dressing business casual, but depending on the party it might be over doing it a bit. Just leave the flip-flops, tank tops and baggy clothes at home, and you should be all right.
Author: Corey Rozon