Dress Codes & What They Mean [Infographic] - His & Her Guide To Appropriate Attire For Each Dress Code De-Coding: Dress Codes 101 - Quick Guide To Dress Codes And What They Mean For Him & Her
With so much happening in Saratoga, especially during the summer season, deciding what to wear isn't always easy. You're invited to a gala... or a fundraiser... or a seminar luncheon, and the dress code is spelled right out for you in black and white, but what does it really mean? How do you actually translate it into something you can put on your body?
Dress codes can be difficult to decipher at times (particularly when some of them mean the opposite of what you can deduce from looking the words up in Webster's Dictionary), so below is a run-down of the common U.S. dress codes and what they mean. We offer you this dress code infographic with his-and-her attire photos to guide you through and suggest what might be appropriate to wear for an occasion with the corresponding dress code.
Are you ready? Hold onto your hat... or black tie... whatever the occasion may be! Here's our simple breakdown of different dress codes and what they mean in U.S. culture, from casual to business casual to smart casual to business and informal, semi-formal and formal attire. We invite you to bookmark this page, pin this image to Pinterest or share via other social media channels for future reference. (click to enlarge)
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Casual is basically a non-dress code, and you can wear comfortable clothing.
For Him: Think Homer Simpson. Tee shirt, jeans and sneakers are appropriate. You may also opt to step it up a notch with khakis, cargos, a polo shirt or henley and still fit in just fine. Tip: Avoid inflammatory or otherwise offensive graphic tees!
For Her: Pull out your favorite jeans! You can opt for a comfortable tee or dress things up a bit with a stylish top, jewelry or even a blazer. Depending on the nature of the event, your footwear can range safely from sneakers to heels to boots. Tip: For outdoor events, sneakers are better as heels can sink into soft ground.
Business Casual is what many people would typically wear to work at the office.
For Him: Wear a pair of nice khakis paired with a polo shirt or other collared shirt. Dress shoes or loafers are appropriate. Tip: Avoid the wrinkles; iron your shirt and pants! Patterned collared shirts are a nice option for a less dressy feel than their solid counterparts.
For Her: Dress pants or khakis with a fashionable top is appropriate. A casual skirt is also an option. Feel free to dress up your outfit with heels, jewelry and/or accessories if desired. Tip: Wear your hair in your everyday style, and avoid overdoing it with makeup or perfume.
Smart Casual (or dressy casual) is basically a combination of casual, business casual, and business dress codes, where you can combine them into a "smart" ensemble.
For Him: This is your opportunity to pair denim with a sport coat. Khakis, trousers, vests, and ties are other great options to bring into the mix. Tip: If opting for jeans, your denim should look somewhat dressy, fresh and sharp with no wear or holes.
For Her: It's safest to go with nice slacks or a skirt, though you could also wear a nice pair of dark jeans dressed up with a collared or otherwise dressy top. Throw on a blazer for an extra touch of class. Tip: For Smart Casual, you should look sharp, stylish, and neatly put together.
"Business / Informal"
Informal attire may be a misnomer as it does call for a bit of formality (not to be confused with Casual attire). Business and Informal attire is more sophisticated than Smart Casual, often signaling the need for suits, ties and dresses.
For Him: Wear a business suit with tie. You may also opt for nice slacks with a sports jacket and tie.
For Her: Wear a business suit or business style dress with heels (high or low).
Tip: For Business and Informal dress codes, stick to business colors: black, navy blue, gray or brown.
Semi-formal attire is more fancy than business attire but just a notch below formal tuxedos and fancy gowns.
For Him: Wear a dark suit with long tie. Tip: The more formal the dress code, the less expression you are allowed in determining your attire options; this is particularly true for men.
For Her: This is the perfect time to break out that little black dress. Most women will wear a classy short evening dress, though you may also opt for dressy separates.Tip: Ladies should avoid very short dresses and skirts that are shorter than 1 inch above the knee.
"Formal / Black Tie / Black Tie Optional"
Formal, Black Tie and Black Tie Optional events are among the most fancy of all dress codes, and you will likely be surrounded by a crowd full of tuxedos and floor-length gowns.
For Him: Wear a tuxedo with all the frills (vest/cummerbund, cufflinks, etc.) For Black Tie Optional, you may also opt to wear a black suit with white shirt and conservative tie. Tip: A Black Tie dress code does not necessarily limit you to only "black" ties, but you may opt for a black tux with any matching tie/cummerbund color of your choosing.
For Her: You are safest wearing a long, floor-length evening dress. A very fancy dress that is not floor-length may also be appropriate. Tip: Wear your hear in an elegant updo or partial updo, and put on fancy jewelry for this occasion.
Want to learn more about Saratoga-specific dress codes? Check out these guides:
Saratoga Race Course Dress Code »
Defining Garden Party Attire »