De-coding the dress code
De-coding the dress code
De-coding the dress code
De-coding the dress code

De-coding the dress code

Photo Motta Weddings


Opting to communicate a dress code for your guests’ consideration can be a great way to help set the tone for your celebration.

If you’re fairly certain of the overall feeling you’d love your wedding to exude, but not quite set on a dress code – give some thought as to the location and season of when your wedding will take place. Summer soiree? Cocktail might be the fit. Winter wonderland – why not go all out with black tie.

Either way, a dress code is not a wedding day requirement, but it can be helpful to your guests to have a guide.

If, like us, you’re somewhat overwhelmed by the many terms thrown around when it comes to dress codes, take a read here.



Photo Steph Wallis


Smart casual.

Less formal than a suit or an evening gown, but dressier than jeans and a nice top, when it comes to smart casual think polished yet relaxed.  Smart casual attire is generally for a more laidback wedding celebration, think collared shirts with trousers or a midi-dress, skirts or tailored pants. Dressy flats are a perfect form of footwear if you’re looking to keep comfort at the forefront. This look might suit a garden party or more casual home-based wedding celebration.


Photo Georgia Verrells



Cocktail attire is a more standard and very popular dress code when it comes to wedding celebrations and is a balance between formal and casual and elegant and comfortable. Often bridging the gap between day and night it’s all about looking classy and polished. When it comes to hem-lines, patterns and colours there’s no need to concerned, anything goes if you’re keeping the look refined. Also don’t feel the need to wear a dress – jumpsuits, a blazer with pants or playful separates are also the perfect option.

For those looking to wear a suit, a jacket is your go-to here, with the tie optional.


Photo Kyra Boyer



More relaxed than all out black-tie, a semi-formal dress code is a way of telling your guests you would like them to dress nicely, without it being an overly formal affair – no ballgowns or tuxedos. Hemlines on dresses can be shorter, and much like cocktail, guests can opt for beautiful separates, tailored trousers, keeping a polished look. While traditionally when it came to semi-formal attire colours were more subdued, we’d say this isn’t a rule anymore so feel free to dress in bright colours and a little black dress is perfect too. When it comes to suits, pair it with a tie, and for day time weddings feel free to wear lighter colours such as grey, tan or blue.


Photo Sarah Jane VR


Jacket and tie, or lounge suit. 

This one is probably less commonly used to convey an event dress code – and fairly self explanatory – but worth a mention! Jacket and tie dress code is often a guide for a semi-formal occasion. It tends to be more formal than cocktail, with the request of a jacket and tie, and a shorter than floor-length gown is a good guide.


Photo Smith & Archer



A formal dress code is as implied – more formal than it’s more flexible dress code counterparts. Consider three-piece suits or tuxedos, floor length gowns or elevated cocktail dresses in fabrics traditionally more evening-wear considered (less prints, more structure). A dressy pantsuit also fits into this category, and whilst suits can come in all cuts and colours, the biggest advice here would be that formal implies you shouldn’t be ditching the tie and jacket.


Photo Tess Follett



Black-tie is usually reserved for formal weddings and a great excuse to get glammed up in a timeless way. When it comes to gowns, traditionally they are floor-length and suits are tuxedos with a bow-tie or a fitted dinner jacket. However, black-tie doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear black. When in doubt – vision the location and by all means, seek the advice of the couple being wed.


It’s safe to say, lines can definitely feel blurred when it comes to dress-codes and fashion, after all, views on fashion and dress-codes do evolve. A dress code is simply a guide, not a rule book, so if you’re feeling unsure or confused, contact the couple and ask them what they feel is appropriate wear for their day.


If you need a hand of where to start when it comes to wedding party fashion, we’ve got some helpful hints that you can find here

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