What party dress codes really mean

What party dress codes really mean

Bow ties, black ties and suits are what men usually like to wear to parties.

Ever since the Page 3 of newspaper supplements has made its prominence in our everyday reading ritual, the party circuit needs to be forever plugged in with do’s and don’ts to stand out and get noticed. Mention parties and the first thing strikes one’s attention is what to wear. Luckily, most of the hosts are gracious enough to include a dress code to time you into the formality of the event. But what does this mean? Here are some popular definitions:

Black tie

Means formal men wear tuxedos, women wear cocktail, long dresses, dressy evening separates or crystal studded (optional) chiffon, georgette or crepe saris.


White tie

Means ultra formal. Men wear full dress with white tie, vest, shirt and a cummerbund. Women wear long gowns.



Usually means the same as black tie, but in some trendier cities like New York or Los Angeles, it could mean a black skirt, no tie with a tuxedo. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.


Black tie optional

Here, you have the option of wearing a tuxedo, but it should clue you into the formality of the event, meaning a dark suit and tie would be your other option. Women could wear cocktail long dresses or dressy evening separates.


Creative black tie

Leaves room for trendy interpretation of formal wear. He can go more modern with a tuxedo, maybe a black shirt, and no tie. Women wear long or short dresses or evening separates (maybe a long lace or sequenced skirt with a sleek cashmere sweater)



This is the trickiest of all dress codes. Usually, it means that tuxes are not required, nor are long dresses. An evening wedding (after GPM) would still dictate dark suits for him, and a cocktail dress for her. Daytime semi-formal events mean a suit for him and an appropriate short dress or dressy suit for her.


Cocktail attire

This means short, elegant dresses for her and dark suits for him. Bandhgalas Nehru jacket suits are also a good option.


Dressy casual

Usually means no jeans or shorts. Similar to business casual, trendy styles will also do.

Casual: This generally means anything goes.

 Informal: can mean the same as casual. However, when associated with a wedding or other special event same form of decorum and good taste should prevail. A dress for her or a nice pair of slacks and shirt for him are informal, but respectful of the event.