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What to do when you just don't know what to wear. (Image by congerdesign from Pixabay)

The Guide to Dress Codes: What To Wear on Every Occasion

Knowing how to dress for different occasions can be a challenge. While one can’t cover all eventualities, here’s a guide on how to dress most of the time.

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closet in article about dress codes

Knowing how to dress for different occasions can be a challenge. While one can’t cover all eventualities, here’s a guide on how to dress most of the time.

The internet is awash with all sorts of dress code guides, whether it be a guide to casino dress codes or what to wear to the latest red carpet event. It goes to prove that there is more to get dressed with than you would imagine. Much of our first impressions of people come from what they wear and conversely, we seek to imprint our personalities in the same way. While it is fair to declare that opinions shouldn’t matter, impressions do have an impact. Here is a quick guide through the dress codes for every occasion.


Usually, weddings are black-tie or white-tie events unless there has been a theme selected. One of the biggest rules is that women should stay away from white, which is reserved just for the bride. Instead, they should be looking to put on the best dress they can. For men, it is likely going to be a tux or a dark suit with dress shoes. The color of the suit could vary depending on the time of year or the level of formality of the wedding.

Cocktail Party

Mostly, the cocktail party is an informal event but weirdly you are expected to dress almost formally. It is also known as dressy casual or semi-formal. So, for men, you might still want to go for a tux and women will likely go for the little black dress. You can go in a suit as a man, and women can don a dress with a bit of frill. Be aware, there is a thin line between being sexy and being out of order.

Dinner Party

If it is a formal dinner party, you are going to be dressing similarly to how you would dress for a cocktail party. To be fair, it is one of those occasions that is determined by the host. You don’t want to overdress but turning up too casual could easily offend. Therefore, it is one of those times when a quick call to ask about the dress code matters.

Business Dinner or Company Party

You need to realize you are attending as a professional and thus cannot be too provocative in your dress. Rightly or wrongly, people will make impressions about your attitude from these events. Therefore, you need to dress smart-casual for such events. It is seen as acceptable now for women to attend in dress pants or a casual dress. Men are advised to wear khakis or dress pants and avoid jeans.


A job interview requires a level of formality that demonstrates a level of professionalism. You need to make a good first impression. Consequently, a suit is the order of the day. You should give the impression that you are committed and disciplined. If you think a suit would be inappropriate for the role, then you might want to give HR a call to ask about what to wear.

One important tip is to avoid excessive accessorizing, such as ostentatious jewelry, which can become a distraction. You would be well advised to wear just a simple watch, demonstrating how much you value time.

Religious Ceremonies

You need to choose an outfit that is appropriate for the event and the facility. Whether it is a baptism, a Bar Mitzvah or other event, you will need to double-check what is expected to avoid offending all those involved. It is a general rule that the dress should be conservative, with nothing too provocative such as clinging shirts or low-cut dresses.


Black is usually the expected color at a funeral, even though it is not mandatory; people expect you to be solemn. It may be different when the family asks for color. If there is no guidance from the family, presume you will need to wear formal and dark clothing to fit the event.

A Night at the Theater, Ballet or Opera

While in the past, such a trip would demand you dress up, now people go to the theater in relatively informal clothing. What was once an event that demanded a tuxedo and a ballgown, now can be attended with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. If you are looking to make it a special evening, then you can go dressed for the meal that will likely precede the show.

First Date

So, here, you want to make a good impression. You have that strange fine line between being authentic and impressing the person you are meeting. Trying too hard may look a little desperate but going too casual will make you look uninterested. The dress code for a first date is a minefield.

Men generally wear jeans and a nice shirt, while women tend to look classy while still appearing like they just threw these clothes on. A good pair of skinny jeans and a lovely jumper usually do the job.

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