How to Properly Use Dress Etiquette for Every Occasion – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

How to Properly Use Dress Etiquette for Every Occasion

Dinner, hiking, or mystery date, learn how to dress for every occasion.


You're invited to the event of host on this date. Please wear this dress code.

Does that sentence spike fear into your heart? Some people wouldn't know cocktail attire from business casual if they were looking at a page of examples. And that's okay - not all of us grew up reading Miss Manners.

But that doesn't mean you can show up in the incorrect dress etiquette.

Starting from the fanciest down - here's how to decipher what those official sounding dress codes mean.

Black Tie

If you're going to an event that's black tie, men need to wear a tuxedo. Women should wear an evening gown or a cocktail dress, whichever they feel more comfortable with.

Keep the venue of the black-tie event in mind. If you're going to a black-tie cocktail party - short dresses are fine. But if it's a gala or a ball, stay with longer dresses.

Cocktail Attire

Think of Cocktail attire like black tie dressed down. Instead of wearing a tux, men will want to wear a nice suit and tie. Women can wear dresses of any length, but a cocktail dress is the most appropriate choice. (Obviously).

You can play up your jewelry and be more creative while accessorizing. High heels are recommended but not required.

Business Formal

Business formal is like business casual on steroids - which we'll explain next. You can get away with a suit jacket and slacks or a full suit.

Women should wear a dress or a pantsuit - something you'd wear to an important meeting, but with some more fun accessories. You should wear heels for this occasion - or at lease nice flats.

Business Casual

Business casual is what you'd wear to a formal office, so slacks and a blouse or an appropriate dress. Men can wear pants and a collared shirt - no jeans.

If you'd wear it to meet with your boss (and your office has a dress code - then you're fine).

Dress Code: Dressy Casual or Polished Casual

This dress code is something you'd wear to meet your significant other's parents, for example. A nice pair of jeans and a boot with a nice blouse or a dress for women.

Men can wear jeans and a collared shirt or blazer. Have fun with this, but make sure you leave the house looking polished - not sloppy.

Casual Dress Etiquette

Technically you could wear jeans and a t-shirt at this event, but you should at least make sure the t-shirt doesn't have any holes. A cute look that you'd wear to an Escape Room with your friends is fine here.

Think jeans and a polo for men and a cute skirt/shirt combo for women. Again - you want to keep the venue in mind. If it's a casual dress code but it's your professional crowd - probably best not to wear a crop top.

Use your best judgment and if that fails - call your mom!

Wrapping Up

If there's not a dress etiquette listed on the invitation and you're questioning what to wear - you can always ask the host. They want you to have a good time and be comfortable at their event - so they'll be happy to tell you.

Stay away from ratty clothes or anything with holes (that weren't engineered) and you should be fine. 

Dressing for a wedding and have some more etiquette relevant questions? Read here