What Even Is Dress Code?!

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When you grow up, there are certain things it seems like you’re just expected to know without learning about them in school. Relationships, taxes, and cooking, to name a few.

Another confusing part of being an adult is dress code.

Whether you’re invited to a work party or a wedding reception, your invitation will usually include some preferred dress. But what do these different dress codes mean?
Here’s a simple dress code cheat sheet for you!


This is the height of fanciness. Floor-length gowns light or nude colours for women and tuxes for guys. Go for simple and tasteful. Stay away from loud, colourful prints and statement jewellery pieces.


Darker, richer colours and fabrics paired with gorgeous heels or slick dress shoes are the ticket for this dress code. Your dress should cover at least to a couple inches above the knee. Guys should wear a darker-coloured suit with coat and tie.


Perhaps the most fun to dress for, “festive” is also called “creative cocktail”. Here, you can jazz up your attire with more extravagant jewellery and shoes and experiment with colours and patterns.

It’s like semiformal but more fun!


Think of what you would wear to a professional interview at a nice firm. Subdued colours and patterns. Try a simple suit or a pencil skirt and dressy blouse-and-blazer combo.


Think of clothing brand advertisements. Polo shirts, khakis, knee-length skirts, and knit shirts. Gravitate toward solid colours rather than patterns, but leave the tie at home.


This is the trickiest on the list because it requires some idea of what “casual” means to the person doing the inviting. If you’re not sure, nice jeans, flats, and a nicer tee (or Henley for guys) are usually a safe bet.