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  • Writer's pictureThe Chimney Team

Decoding the dress code – what to wear for events

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

It’s the time of year when the invitations for awards nights and end-of-year gatherings start to arrive in your inbox bringing the promise of champagne flowing and downtime with your colleagues.

But those invites can also bring confusion and perhaps a level of anxiety when you look at the dress code. Black tie or formal seems relatively straightforward on the face of it, but does smart casual mean you can wear jeans … trainers, even? The last thing you want to do on a big night out is make the wrong impression. So let us help you decode those dress codes. Casual By all means, put your trainers, tees and jeans on, but don’t take liberties. Nothing ripped, dirty or with holes.

Smart casual

You can still wear your jeans, but go for dark and slim. Or you could consider chinos – lighter colours are better suited to the warmer months. Ditch the trainers and go with a smart pair of brogues – or if you prefer you could opt for Chelsea boots. On top, a patterned shirt, maybe with a button-down collar, or even a smart-looking polo shirt or crew-neck sweater. You could even add a pair of stylish braces to complete the outfit. A suit jacket would work well too, or you may have a bomber jacket that would fit the bill. Opting for some colour is a great way to add a touch of character, but don’t go fluorescent!

Business casual

This is very similar to smart casual but has a professional edge. It’s a look that is being favoured in a lot of workplaces. Keep the shirt plain, but no polo shirts. Brogues are acceptable, but you may want to switch up to something a little more dressy. And keep your socks dark. A tweed blazer or suit jacket would complete the look.

Semi-formal It’s time to dust off your suit, preferably something dark, and team it with a dress shirt. Add smart dress shoes, dark co-ordinating socks and a suitable tie. You may find that not everyone is wearing a tie, but you can easily take it off if you feel a little overdressed. But it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Black tie

If it is a formal event, you may well be asked to wear black tie, but what does this look like? For a start, it’s a black bow tie you need rather than a simple tie. Wear it with a formal black suit, black dress shoes, and a wing collar or pleated white shirt. Depending on the event, you may wish to add a black or contrasting cummerbund. If the event focuses on a particular colour, for example a colour scheme or a charity event, adding a statement pocket square is a great touch.

Black tie optional

It kind of says what it does on the tin. There is still an expectation of formality, but you could ’jazz up’ your look with a colourful tie or bowtie.

White tie White tie is a step up from black tie and refers to the most formal attire. It is a rare dress code, usually reserved for state balls and banquets, and is not something we currently offer at Chimney. But if you are invited to such an event, you should be wearing a dark suit with an evening tailcoat, a white waistcoat and, of course, a white bow tie. If you need any help finding a suit, waistcoat or tie for your event, get in touch to arrange an appointment with our expert team. Call 01763 252828.

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