The Deadly Sins of Style… Sin #2 – Not Dressing for the Occasion (III) | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Sin #2 – Not Dressing for the Occasion | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Dress Codes, Formality, and Knowing What to Wear 
The  second  most-common failing in most men’s clothing is the simple error  of showing up for an event either over- or under-dressed.
The  former  is  harder  to  do  than  the  latter,  but  still  awkward  –  a tuxedo will  stand out anywhere that isn’t black-tie, and a matched suit looks strange outside  of  formal  business  settings  or  particularly  dressy  social  occasions.  Conversely, wearing casual trousers and an informal, patterned jacket or no jacket at all can be a serious disadvantage in high-stakes (and high-formality) dealings.
The first and easiest way to be sure of wearing the right thing is to follow the dress  code,  if  one  is  offered  –  most  social  occasions  will  include  this  information in an invitation.
Understanding  the  basic  terminology  makes  wardrobe  choices significantly  easier:

White Tie 
Rarely  seen  on  modern  invitations,  white  tie  is  the  most  formal  of  dress  codes. It includes tailcoats, piped trousers, and white waistcoats, and is prohibitively expensive for most men.
Unless you happen to attend jet-set dinners or work for very large charities, you’re unlikely to ever face the white tie code.

Black Tie 
Black tie or evening dress means that a black or midnight blue dinner jacket and matching trousers are expected.
A silk bow tie is the only appropriate neckwear (matched to the lapel facings) and patent leather pumps or highly-polished Oxfords are the only shoes that should be worn. The shirt should be white, French-cuffed, and fastened with studs.

Black Tie Optional 
Black  tie  optional  is  frequently  used  for  ceremonies where the participants  will be formally dressed, but want to spare their guests the necessity of owning or renting a tuxedo.
A  solid,  dark  suit  with  a  dark  tie  and  a  white  undershirt  is  perfectly  appropriate at these events, but anything patterned is too informal. Once again, shoes should be unadorned black Oxfords.

Semi-Formal or Business Dress 
Semi-formal  or  business  dress  should  not  be  confused  with  casual  or  business-casual; a suit is still expected.
The  fabric  should  be  dark  and  patterning  kept  to  a  minimum,  and  the  shirt  should be unobtrusive and light-colored. A tie is necessary, as are simple, conservative shoes and belt.

Business-Casual or Dress-Casual
Business-casual  or  dress-casual  implies  that  a  tie  in  particular  is  optional,  and in some circles also indicates that a jacket can be omitted or replaced with a sweater, vest, or similar garment.
The shirt must still be collared, and dress trousers are expected. Any leather dress shoe is appropriate.

Casual is not anything-goes; any event that bothered to provide a dress code still expects attendees to look neat and well-presented.
However, jeans and casual shirts including polo or golf shirts are appropriate, and dress shorts may also be considered within bounds in hot weather.
Leather sandals, moccasins, or boat shoes may be worn.
When  no  specific  code  is  given,  it  may  be  best  to  err  on  the  side  of  conservative dress and wear clothing that can be adjusted if necessary – a suit that proves to be too formal can be dressed down by removing the tie, or the  jacket  of  a  casual  outfit  can  be  set  aside  to  leave  you  with  a  simple  collared shirt and trousers.

When  more  casual  codes  are  in  place,  resist the temptation to throw on an  old polo and a pair of khakis; the result will be looking like every other schlub in the room.
Practice the art of dressing up while dressing down instead: wear light, loose sportcoats  with  active  patterns  and  softer  colors  to  look  casual  without  losing the flattering shape of a well-cut jacket.
In  the  summer  heat,  lightweight  materials  can  keep  trousers  and  long-sleeved shirts a viable option.

Overall,  it’s  easy  to  avoid  being  the  wrong-dressed  man  if  you  keep  your  wardrobe versatile enough to conform to different dress codes and pay attention to expectations at public events.
And  in  general,  remember  that  it’s  always  safer  to  be  overdressed  than  under, since clothes can be removed but not added (without a trip home, at least).


This is just the ​beginning of your style journey? Stay connected for the upcoming articles.

Please  note  that  much  of  this  publication  is  based  on  personal  experience  and anecdotal evidence.  
Although  the  author  and  publisher  have  made  every  reasonable  attempt  to  achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions.  
Also, you should use this information as you see fit, and at your own risk. 
Your  particular  situation  may  not  be  exactly  suited  to  the  examples  illustrated here; in fact, it’s likely that they won’t be the same, and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly.
Finally,  use  your  head. Nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common  sense, legal, medical or other professional advice, and is meant to inform and entertain the reader.  
So have fun and learn to dress sharp! 

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