How we dress says a lot about who we are. What we wear to occasions greatly influences the judgement of people around us. With so many diverse dress codes out there in the world, it can sometimes be difficult to select an outfit. In this piece, we outline, lady dress etiquette, what dress codes to wear and how best to match your accessories on every occasion.
Isn’t it just nerve-racking when you have to select an outfit for a special occasion? We’re talking weddings, holiday parties, barbecue hangouts, job interviews, bridal shower—and many more dress-code specific occasions. No matter how hard you try, you can’t just seem to choose the perfect outfit. And sometimes, when you do find a nice dress to wear, it makes you feel out of place. Why, because what you wear to any occasion depends on so many factors such as weather, venue, formality of the event and other times, what everyone agrees on wearing.
We understand the rodeo—we’ve all been there, really. We know how hard it can be to fit in and slay at the same time. But, you don’t need to worry about dress code ‘rules’ anymore; because we’ve found the right balance. In fact, we know just exactly what outfits need to be worn at every occasion and which accessories match seamlessly. We break down every event dress code alongside real-life tips and accessory suggestions that will solve your what-do-I-wear dilemma for life.
What to Wear to Any Occasion
- A Job Interview
Because work comes first… we shouldn’t have to explain how important it is to look presentable on a job interview. Many job applicants are assessed on first impression, and a large part of that falls on their dress sense. So, what to wear?
Attire: First, you need to keep it clean, moderate and professional. No one wants to interview a candidate in a skimpy dress. The go-to outfit here would be a tailored suit, pants or skirt (you decide) and some low pumps. Alternative outfits would be a simple navy or black dress. However, if you’re applying for a tech startup or a content magazine, you are free to express your personal style; but don’t overdo the casual and don’t be too trendy.
Accessories: Avoid any jangly jewelry on a job interview. The goal is to be modest and approachable not ostentatious—keep your finer jewelry at home. Matter fact, only keep the earrings or the necklace, but ensure they aren’t overly showy.
- A Business Dinner, Networking Event, Work Party
So you got that job you applied for; great. Not long after, you’re invited for a work party or a networking conference in a fancy location. The goal here is to look polished. Any work function, regardless of its recreational tendencies, needs to be approached with conservative dressing.
Attire: Usually the office tells you what to wear. But if they don’t, you can make an upgrade to your regular office wear. Yes, a nice blouse with your suit makes a lot of sense. So does some heels and a knee-length skirt. At the end of the day, your office knows best, so steer on the side of your company’s dress code.
Accessories: Why not? Wearing accessories is semi-formal outfit is a great way to stand out. We recommend you wear a pretty necklace that matches well with non-dangle earrings. Bracelets could fit in there as well, but ensure they aren’t too flashy.
- A Wedding
Weddings have their dress codes; and one of them is ‘Never wear white!” unless you’re trying to steal the groom for yourself, or serve as a waiter. Now, weddings, depending on the organisation, do come with pretty specific dress codes. Some weddings are a ‘welcome-all’ type event; others are somewhat black tie ‘invite-only’ type stuff. Either way, you’re expected to come sophisticated; but not in white.
Attire: By all means, put on the best gowns you have. Many weddings are strict on ‘floor-length gowns’, but etiquette rules are accommodating of ‘knee-length’ dresses. You’ll know the vibes from the invite.
Accessories: We do advise that you show up to weddings with simple, yet elegant jewelry. It’s a wedding and you’re only an attendee. You can do fine with some hoop earrings, a necklace, bracelets and hat, if needed. Whatever you do; do not outshine the bride.
- A Cocktail Party
‘Cocktail attire’ is a real thing. These are the dresses, at the corner of your closet, which you only get to wear once or twice a year. Although not as fancy as say, a black-tie dinner event, cocktail dresses are designed to stand out. This means, you can wear your favourite gowns and dresses to a cocktail party. Isn’t that great?
Attire: These days, cocktail parties are a rare occasion. Miss one, and you’ll wait a long time for the next. You can wear a beautiful top with skirts or a tailored pant, on fancy heels or flats. Never dress casual to a cocktail party; avoid wearing denim, chinos or a sweatshirt. Also, avoid very short outfits that show more. In other words, the hemline of your dress should not exceed your fingertips.
Accessories: There are no restrictions on accessories. You can wear your most ostentatious jewelry to a cocktail party. The idea of such an event is to exchange compliments. Dangle earrings have a nice way of earning you some.
- A Dinner Party
Dinner parties can be similar to cocktail parties, especially if they’re a formal event. You want to dress fashionably and not overdress at the same time. Also, you don’t want to underdress either. As long as your outfit is nice enough to match the venue and occasion, you’re all good. If in doubt, contact the host for dress codes
Attire: Wear a colorful dress that matches your heels or flats. Elegantly designed palazzo pants and silky jumpsuits fit in just as well. You’re also free to adorn your outfit with lace, beads, tassels, feathers—you name it. Be a slay monster.
Accessories: Have fun with statement jewelry such as fancy necklaces and hoop earrings that wow. These will be the highlight of your outfit, so choose your best matching accessories.
- A Birthday Party, Barbecue Hangout, Family Get-Together
These are the sort of occasions you share with familiar crowd; usually people you see on a day-to-day basis. You can show up as casual as you want; no harm done. You’re at a get-together to celebrate with friends and family; you shouldn’t show up as a runway model.
Attire: You want to go for a relaxed vibe. So, a nice pair of jeans with a labelled top is a great option. Footwear should be some sneakers, sandals or a pair of flats. Do not show up in tracksuits or yoga pants, unless it’s the dress-code.
Accessories: No rules to accessories here. But you can keep it minimal. For a familiar event such as this, you’re going to be involved in a lot of activity. You really don’t want lose your best jewelry at a family or birthday event, do you?
- A First Date
When it comes to date, there is often a thin line between overdressing and underdressing. Why, because the goal is to leave a very good impression. In that case, you should dress casually. You want to be in your element; to be as natural as possible during a date.
Attire: Being a woman, you don’t need very much to impress a man. They’ll compliment you regardless. You should however come decently dressed and upbeat rather than raggedy and laid-back. A pair of skinny jeans and a nice looking shirt or sweater is just perfect for a date. Wearing a skirt, tights can fit in as well. This way you look casual and trendy at the same time.
Accessories: The bigger focus here is on your accessories. Usually, you only need one jewelry to stand out; your necklace. However, you can mix them up with earrings, bracelets; whatever you prefer.
- A Bridal or Baby Shower
Bridal showers follow similar dress-code rules to weddings; ‘Never wear white’, unless the host specifies otherwise. That being said, black can be avoided as well. The goal is to look chic rather than somber. You’re there to spread positivity; wearing a flattering dress is well within your rights.
Attire: We suggest wearing a patterned or printed skirt and sweater. A pair of pants is not very far off, so also is a flowy silky top. The weather does play a role, however you can decide to wear heels or flats.
Accessories: Keep the accessories minimal. An earring or necklace is enough fine accoutrements for your bridal shower or baby shower outfit.
- A Funeral or a Wake
At the funeral events, you want to be as respectful as you can. This is not the time to rock trendy or flashy clothes. This is also not the time to wear flashy accessories. The goal is to wear an outfit that reflects the solemnity of the event Show up neat, simple and modest.
Attire: The safe route to go is to wear a knee-length dress or a pantsuit, fitted with a plain cardigan or jacket. Shoes should be polished. Black is a common choice but not mandatory. Whatever discrete outfit you go with, ensure they come in toned-down colors.
Accessories: The same principles apply to jewelry. If they feel too flashy, leave them at home. You can wear earrings and necklaces, bracelets but ensure they do not attract attention. Also, a hat can help you achieve a modest look.
- A Religious Ceremony
Attending religious ceremonies such as baptisms, or a bar mitzvah requires conservative dressing. The last thing you want to do is, overdress and offend the people in attendance. Keep it simple and modest.
Attire: Wear a skirt that is below the knee. Match that with cardigans that cover your whole torso. Stay away from revealing outfits to avoid offending the crowd.
Accessories: This is entirely dependent on the nature of the religious ceremony. If in doubt, wear a simple, modest necklace.