Designer Dresses for Every Dress Code

Navigating the dress codes of different events can be quite tricky, but necessary, to avoid any social faux-pas. You want to make sure that your outfit is the perfect fit for the event, so you turn heads for all the right reasons. Below are some dress code guidelines for each type of major event to keep in mind when shopping for your next gorgeous gown.

White Tie

When: White Tie events include government ceremonies, the opera, charity fundraisers and some formal weddings.

What: Events with a White Tie designation require a singular classic piece – the floor-length ball gown. Use opera length gloves, jewels and ornate hairstyles to complete the glamourous look.

Black Tie

When: Black Tie events are those in public eye or with lots of ceremony. They include charity fundraisers, formal weddings, award ceremonies, political dinner parties and industry galas.

What: Formal dresses are a must. However, the dress style and length are on a situational basis. Floor-length ball gowns may be appropriate while for other events, very ornate cocktail dresses may also be acceptable.

Black Tie Optional

When: Elegant events such as formal dinners, weddings, silent auction, and galas are usually black tie optional.

What: Most Black Tie Optional events are elegant and well-attended, meaning that dressing up is a must, but how one does so is up to each person’s own tastes. Long gowns, embellished cocktail dresses or beautiful separates are all acceptable. Accessorize with gloves, clutches or jewels to enhance a look.

Semiformal/Cocktail/Dressy Casual

When: Dressy casual occasions occur in locations where a little extra effort would be beneficial and appreciated by the host or others attending. Locations such as church, dinners or invites received via e-mail or phone are excellent examples of when to dress up a bit. Cocktail attire is worn for adult parties and evening social events.

What: When attending a semiformal, cocktail or dressy casual event, it is important to dress up enough but not too much. There is a fine line to casual sophistication. In general, avoid any denim, tennis or sport shoes and t-shirts, all of which give a much too casual air. Cocktail attire follows the same rules as dressy casual, only shorter dresses are usually preferred. Also consider the width of the dress, keeping to sleeker designs for more intimate spaces.


When: Festive events could be seasonal or decided by the host. These events would include holiday or seasonal themes as well as any specific theme such as “black and white,” which the host would directly indicate on the invitation.

What: Festive events are completely based upon the host or setting. Generally, for larger events related to industries, the government or couple celebrations such as engagements, weddings or anniversaries, Black Tie or Black Tie Optional are best, although it may vary. For more intimate events such as holiday gatherings or adult dinner parties, Dressy Casual and Cocktail attire may suit. Consider wearing shorter dresses with clean lines and beautiful embellishments. Festive events favor bolder colors and embellished flourishes such as sparkle on the dress and flashy jewelry.

Dress for Event Success

The key to dressing for event success is to know exactly which dress code the host or setting requires. Once you do, then it’s all about choosing the right color, shape and fit to complement your body. NewYorkDress is the premier online marketplace for high-end designer dresses. With over 45 designers and one of the largest selections, finding your dream dress for any dress code has never been easier. Start with the best, first. Browse NewYorkDress’ vast high-quality dress collections today.

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