The event dress code: the frequently ambiguous, highly stressful and potentially oh-so-memorable event detail.Let’s face it, we have all been on both sides of the issue. We have been the uncomfortably over or under-dressed patron or the horrified host or hostess with their jaw dropped (since when does “casual” mean no bra?).

As an event host, you need to look at the dress code as a detail of the overall ambiance and décor of the event. This can be anything from requesting formal attire for a gala to theme-based parties (toga, anyone?). How your guests dress can (and should) dramatically impact the look and feel of your event.

Now, like anything involving a group of people, communication is key, and the clearer and more explicit the instructions, the better. If you have your heart set on your guests arriving in a certain type of attire then you need to tell them. Never assume. You will be disappointed.
The following are just a few examples of dress attire language you can add to your event invite to avoid some of the more cringe-worthy moments:
• Black-tie required: Men, please wear tuxedos. Ladies, please wear a formal, floor-length gown.
• Black-tie optional: Men, please wear a suit or tuxedo. Ladies, please wear a cocktail dress or formal, floor-length gown.
• Business professional: Men, please wear a full suit. Ladies, please wear a full suit or dress with jacket.
• Business casual: Men, please wear a button-up shirt and dress slacks. Ladies, please wear a skirt or dress pants with sweater/blouse or a dress.
• Beach attire: Men, please wear swim trunks or board shorts with a t-shirt or swim shirt. Ladies, please wear your bathing suit with a cover up or sundress.

A few common sense (?) tips for guests:
• Ladies, if the outfit would look ridiculous with heels, then it is not appropriate for business casual to formal events.
• Men, events are frequently warm. Dress in layers and make sure to wear an undershirt to limit sweat marks.
• No one wants to see your underwear. Make sure it is covered. Those that do want to see it can do so after the event.
• Limit the perfume/cologne. Between the numerous guests, décor, and catering, events are already combating conflicting smells. Only put on enough so that those directly next to you can smell you.
• If your outfit came as a set and it isn’t a business suit or bathing suit (for beach or pool parties), leave it in the closet.
• Assume your host has a germ issue and will require you to take your shoes off. Make sure your socks match and are in good condition. Barefoot? Make sure your toenails have been recently groomed. You don’t want to get the nickname “sloth”.

Happy dressing!

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