Social Attire Defined

Charming Social Attire Defined Guide - 10 Dress Codes

COVID has forced everyone to cancel their plans for quite a while now, but thankfully, the era of the pandemic is dawning and life will return (mostly) to normal with the vaccine rollouts. Soon, we’ll all be able to attend fun social life events once more.

With all this fun however there is the stress of knowing what garments to wear in order to look the part and be camera wedding. Whether you are attending a wedding, gala, pageant, first date or anything in between, we have a guide for you on Social Attire Defined. Below is a list of different types of events and what to wear to each. Check through what you already have in your closet or take a shopping trip to purchase the perfect outfit for your event.

Social Attire Defined, Formality Level-High


1. Black Tie

When it comes to black-tie events, the dress code is very specific. This is an occasion that takes place after 6 pm where you want to dress to impress- think floor-length gowns and tuxedos. The most common Black Tie events are weddings, galas, milestone birthdays, or awards ceremonies. Attire for men consists of a black/midnight blue dinner jacket with a lapel, a black waistcoat, a white dress shirt, trousers, a black tie, and black dress shoes with black dress socks.

For women, a long, elegant dress in rich colors, with a complementing purse, tasteful jewelry, and evening shoes are typically the norm. If you don’t have a floor-length gown, your local bridal shops or wedding boutiques are the perfect places to either buy or possibly rent a gown. If you do not own a tuxedo, check out local tuxedo rental stores. 

2. Creative Black Tie

A creative black-tie event is considered a modern, contemporary, and chic black-tie event. In other words, there is more room for interpretation. Two-piece sets, like a nice blouse and pants, cocktail dresses, floor-length gowns, or very classy and beautiful separates are great options for a creative black-tie event. For the tuxedo or suit look, colored or trendy-fabric bow ties, jackets, shirts, pants, or socks are the perfect attire options for this event.

Show your personality by choosing fun colors and styles that are flattering and appropriate for you, and accessorize with sheer fabrics, sequins, silk blazers, or anything that is fun and hip. Check your local bridal shops or wedding boutiques and local tuxedo rental stores to find your best options for this attire.

3. White Tie

There are no exceptions to this event. It’s floor-length evening gowns or bust. These occasions are as formal as you can get, and most people only attend a couple of these nights in their lives, if any. State Banquets, Nobel Prize Ceremonies, Memorial Dinners, White House Dinners, and Galas hosted by prestigious institutions are some of the affairs that a White Tie dress code is mandatory. You do not want to look dressed-down in any way. A full-length ball gown, beautiful jewelry, long gloves, elegant makeup, and fabulous hair do’s are a must. A lengthy black jacket with tails, a white vest, a bow tie, formal black shoes, and white gloves is the other specific attire.

If you’re going to one of these types of occasions, it’ll be a high society affair filled with the elites of society and celebrities. You can expect to see individuals who actively shape world affairs. Shopping at your local bridal shops or wedding boutiques are the perfect places to get a fancy ball gown for this event. Don’t forget to also check out your local tuxedo rental stores for all of your tuxedo and tuxedo-accessory needs. 

Social Attire Defined, Formality Level Medium

4. Cocktail Party/Formal Attire

Cocktail party attire has a  wide range of formality and is somewhere in between black tie and casual. Formal attire and black tie optional can also fall into this category. To determine precisely how formal you should dress, consider the context of the event you are going to. Tuxedos and floor-length gowns are recommended for fancier occasions, while floor-length dresses are popular for formal events that take place in colder seasons.

The best options for cocktail party attire are a suit and tie, a short formal dress (known as a cocktail dress), a nice work suit, or a classy jumpsuit. You can find these attire options at local bridal shops or wedding boutiques, local tuxedo rental stores, or at local malls or department stores

woman in black tank top holding clear wine glass

5. Religious Ceremonies

Attire for religious ceremonies usually consists of very classy outfits that are not low-cut, tight, or revealing. Dress pants with a blouse or classy shirt, mid-to full-leg length dresses, suits, dress pants with a polo, or a long formal skirt with a nice shirt are your go-to options when it comes to attending religious ceremonies or events. Your local mall or department stores will have plenty of options.

6. Semi-Formal

Semi-formal can be considered a step below formal attire or slightly less-formal cocktail attire. Long dresses are not required. Go for shorter (at or above the knee) choices. Dress pants, blouses, and skirts are also acceptable. Local malls or department stores are great places to look for outfits for this type of event. 

7. Business Professional

To make an investment in Business Professional attire is a very wise idea and one that may be necessary for your field of work. Disciplines such as law, politics, accounting, banking, and finance require this dress code. Even if your career doesn’t require it, Business Professional clothes will help with networking events, making you look and feel confident, and make career-advancing connections. A full business suit with conservative colors, a collared shirt, a simple tie, and dress shoes is an outfit that will help you look professional, competent, and powerful.

For women, professional dresses or skirts, blouses or button-down shirts, short heels, loafers or flats is the way to go. Light jewelry is acceptable. Ensuring that your outfit looks classy and professional is mandatory for both men and women.

Social Attire Defined, Formality Level Low

8. Casual

Casual the most general category of attire, and what it means will depend on the event you’re attending. The bare minimum of class for casual attire usually includes jeans and a  nice top that isn’t torn or dirty, and be sure to avoid sweatpants or hoodies.

If you are headed to a wedding where the dress code is casual, then go with a business casual outfit. This consists of casual sundresses, jumpsuits, rompers, skirts, or pants paired with a classy blouse, or dress pants paired with a button-down shirt or polo. You can find most of these options at your local mall or department store

9. Festive Attire

Around the special holidays and events, parties are always happening. The dress code may range from formal (cocktail party attire) to casual. Family events may lean towards the casual side, and you could wear outfits like dress pants with a nice sweater or festive top.

Formal holiday parties that consist of lots of people attending, that are hosted at a nice venue, and that have important people attending may require you to wear outfits that are similar to cocktail party attire. Your local mall or department stores will provide you the best options.

10. First Date

Choose an outfit that makes you look and feel amazing—confidence is key for this one. Make sure you know where the date is, and then dress according to the dress code of the place. If you look good, you feel good! Check out the local mall or department stores to find the perfect look. 


We want to make sure you’re dressed your best and feel your best for whatever event you are attending. For more tips from anything about event planning to how to look your best, check out other blogs by Easy Event Planning!

Written by Kimberly Vona, Brittney Casad, Natalie Davidson

Edited by Amy Chiang, July 2020

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