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Decoding the Dress Code

Decoding the Dress Code

Party attire guidelines can be tricky. Here is a short checklist to make sure you don’t show up over or under dressed. 

Black Tie  

The second most formal dress code after the White Tie (White Tie is for events like the Met Gala, royal ceremonies, and hyper formal events).

 In this situation, you should wear a floor length dress that is less ornate and more restrained in color and print. Color is not forbidden, but I would stick to black, neutrals, or jewel tones to stay on the safe side. A very nice suit or tuxedo including a vest and bow tie are the norm here.     


A step below black tie but still semiformal. Dresses should be midi or knee-length (no shorter!) and can be in any color. Chic trousers and a dressy jumpsuit fit the bill as well. The garments should be fitted, not tight. 

This is the time to whip out that clutch you have collecting dust. I like to buy clutches with an optional strap because your girl is all about practicality. 


Smart Casual or Business Casual

This is the most difficult dress code to decode because there are so many variables such as different types of industries, geography, climate, and cultures at play that there are many interpretations. Boiled down, this code is more lenient but still nice, business appropriate but not formal. 

In Portland, I would say it is okay to wear some really nice, dark wash, non-distressed(!) jeans with a silky top, and a blazer.  


Festive Attire

Time to go wild! Ugly Christmas sweaters are encouraged, sparkles are almost mandatory, and plaid is celebrated. This is the most fun dress code and can be interpreted in many ways. 

Overall tips: 

  • The more formal the event, the longer the hem. 
  • And likewise, the higher the hem, the shorter the heel should be. 
  • Try out the entire outfit, from jewelry to shoe, before the event! You never want to be in the spot where the clock is ticking, and you’re frantically coming up with a plan b. 



I hope this helps! 

Until next time, 


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