When a new invite lands in our laps, one of the first things that we tend to think is what on earth are we going to wear?! Whether it’s to a wedding or a day at the races, here are the rules…
Full evening dress (commonly known as ‘white tie’) is the most formal evening dress code and women are expected to wear a floor length dress, with or without sleeves. If without, long gloves are needed, if with, then normal length gloves will do.
- Full-length, formal evening dresses are required. It is traditional to show décolletage.
- Shorter dresses or trousers, no matter how smart, are not acceptable.
- Gloves should be worn en route to an event, in a receiving line, when shaking hands and dancing. They are removed when eating (even a canapé) and at the dinner table. They should be taken off finger by finger and rested on the lap under the napkin.
- Tiaras (yes, really) are only acceptable for married women.
- Hair should be worn up.
Evening dress (commonly known as ‘black tie’) is a derivative of full evening dress. Hair can be worn up or down and the length of dress can vary depending on fashion, time of year, and your own personal taste. However, it should never be shorter than the knee. In terms of shoes, opt for a closed toe style.
- If not wearing a long dress, then a cocktail dress – a fitted dress to very slightly below the knee and with a little décolletage is an appropriate option. The fabric should be suited to evening such as silk, crepe or chiffon.
- Evening trousers are permissible, either palazzo cut or tight-fitting.
- Although the dress code is ‘black tie’, dresses need not be black.
- Fine or costume jewellery is appropriate, but not tiaras.
- An elegant evening bag should be used.
This will depend on the specific event, as dress rules vary from enclosure to enclosure. If attending Ascot within the Royal Enclosure then there are fairly strict rules and guidelines. The best advice is to keep it classic.
- Dresses and skirts should fall just above the knee or longer.
- Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
- Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
- Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full length and of matching material and colour.
- Jumpsuits are welcome. They should be of full-length to the ankle, with regulations matching that for dresses.
- Hats should be worn, however, a headpiece which has a solid base of four inches (10 cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
Whether for the office or an event, a lounge suit dress code generally refers to formal work attire. For women, this is harder to interpret than for men, who should wear a business suit. Opt for a smart trouser suit or a formal, work-appropriate dress.
- Keep statement jewellery to a minimum.
- If for an evening event, opt for a skirt suit rather than a trouser suit.
Cocktail dresses are usually more vivid in colour and have a more ‘interesting’ design.
- A cocktail dress should stop at the knee, or ever so slightly above.
- Long hair is usually worn ‘up’ for cocktail receptions.
A smart but less structured blouse or shirt is key here, worn under a jacket or blazer of some form.