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What to Wear When the Invitation Says Black Tie, Formal, White Tie, Cocktail?


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Isn't it wonderful when you get a wedding or swanky party invitation in the mail?  You quickly respond and let them know you're attending, then start planning your outfit... the issue is what does Formal, Black Tie, White Tie, Semi Formal etc all mean?  Don't be perplexed any more!  Here's our guide:

White Tie

This is super-formal of all the dress codes.  Men should always wear a full tuxedo or a long jacket with tails.  Try a vest and bow tie.  As this is so formal, men should always wear black formal shoes and even white gloves for dancing depending on the event.  For women, a full length ball gown is appropriate.  This is your chance to glam up like the Oscars, so dramatic jewellery and hair are called for.

Black Tie

If your wedding invitations call for this code, they usually mean that the wedding is going to be glamorous and held at night with lots of chic attention to detail,  For men, you should wear a tux with a bow tie and formal black shoes.  For women, you can have a full length gown or a very chic cocktail dress. 

Formal or Black Tie Optional

This is less formal than black tie, so the men can get away with a formal dark suit with a tie or a tuxedo if they feel comfortable in one.  For the ladies, you could choose a long dress, a formal or glamorous suit or a formal cocktail length dress.

It says Formal, but it's at the Beach!

This happens frequently in Australia and can be quite confusing!  Generally, if the invitation asks for formal but you know it's being held at the beach, the bride and groom are asking you to dress up not dress for the beach!  They want a glamorous feel to their day, not a Pamela Anderson type beach wedding.  So, men could wear a summer suit with a cool linen shirt or if it is very hot, khakis or linen pants.  For women, you should think about a formal summer sun dress either full or cocktail length. 

Semi Formal

This dress code calls for a lighter shade of formal!  For men, a suit with a tie in a lighter colour is appropriate and for women, you can wear a cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top.

Casual

Casual really is up to you!  Many people don't feel comfortable wearing their weekend clothes to a wedding, so it really comes down to how you feel.  For men, it is best to try dress pants and a buttoned shirt without a tie.  If it's hot, it can be short sleeved or linen.  For women, you could wear a summery dress or pants.  Keep your hair and accessories natural.



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