Occasion Wear Dress Code

Summer brings with it a whole host of outfit challenges – from navigating putting together your holiday wardrobe to the dreaded search for a new bikini. Not least of these dilemmas is the world of occasion wear. Whether you’re heading off to a friends wedding or for a flutter at the races it’s a season of strict dress codes.

When it comes to nailing occasion wear there are some key things you need to bear in mind – read on for my guide to occassion attire.


Whether your heading off for a city wedding, a religious ceremony or a more relaxed affair in a marque being fully prepared is the key to getting it right.
  • Don’t steel the brides thunder – never wear white!
  • Black dresses used to be a no no for weddings but are more widely accepted these days.  If you opt for black make sure you inject some colour into your outfit with your accessories
  • Wear sleeves or bring a cover up for religious ceremonies
  • Wear heels you can walk in all day and take note of the terrain – stilettos won’t work on gravel, cobbles or grass.  Choose platforms or wedges instead, ideally a pair that are really comfy that you can wear all day.  Alternatively pack a pair of your favourite flats to change into later on
  • Remember the matchy-matchy rule: never coordinate your bags, shoes and belt
  • If you have several weddings coming up it’s perfectly acceptable to re-wear an outfit – just switch up the accessories

Wedding Reception

If you’re not going to attend the ceremony you can still make an impressive entrance at the reception.
  • As you won’t be going to church you can afford to wear something a little more playful; perhaps an off-the-shoulder blouse and wide leg trousers or a jumpsuit?
  • Pep up your outfit with a few eye-catching accessories
  • If opting for a sleeveless outfit take a wrap
  • Opt for dressy shoes to add a touch of glam

The Races

While a day at the races is a great opportunity to get dressed up knowing what to wear to the races is probably the most challenging of all occasion dressing.  With strict dress codes it can be easy to end up buying something you would never wear again so take plenty of time when shopping for your outfit – the aim is to find something which complies with the dress codes, you will wear again and reflects your personality.

  • Strapless and off-the-shoulder dresses are a no no
  • Dresses must be knee length or full length
  • Jumpsuits and full suits are now accepted but make sure they’re full-length and not cropped
  • Practical shoes are your best bet as you’ll be on your feet all day – platforms and wedges are a safe bet and will stop you from sinking into the grass.  If your struggling to find a pair of shoes to match your outfit opt for a nude – not only do they go with everything they’ll also lengthen your leg!
  • Have fun with your accessories – certain races or enclosures have specific requirements when it comes to your hats such as in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.  If you must wear a hat – choose one that’s at least four inches in diameter.  If you don’t have to wear a hat but don’t fancy a fascinator experiment with bow, headbands and clips – all of which look cooler and younger than a formal hat.

 Cocktail Party

A standard dress code for parties, your cocktail dress should be appropriate yet fun and a good reflection of your personality.

  • Dresses must stop at the knee (or just above) – midi length is good too if you’re not so comfortable wearing a shorter dress
  • Interesting colours, embellishments and cuts are all great – ensure though your look is sophisticated.
  • When in doubt wear a little black dress and accessories it with fun jewellery
  • Avoid anything too revealing
  • Polished trousers and a top make a nice change
  • Opt for clutch or small shoulder bag – large tote bags are out
  • Whether it be stilettos, kittens or block heels, a little extra lift is necessary when it comes to a more formal event.

Black Tie

When dressing for a black tie event, a floor-length dress or gown is the ideal outfit. While you can get away with formal cocktail attire, a long dress is more elevated for the occasion.

  • Choose a sophisticated looking dress with a simple and feminine silhouette
  • Opt for more elegant, subdued colours
  • If you have a plain one-colour dress ensure you accessories make a statement
  • If your dress has a bold print then opt for simple accessories as they are simply there to support and elevate your frock
  • Dressy separates are also ok to wear – think full length trousers and a silk blouse
  • Avoid platform and wedge shoes as they’ll make the outfit look cheap

White Dress Code

White tie is the highest level of dress code, so if you receive an invitation with it on, you better be ready to dress for this glamorous occasion.

  • Choose a full-length gown – shorter dresses or trousers, no matter how smart are not acceptable
  • It is traditional, but not essential, to show décolletage
  • Long gloves have traditionally been worn with this dress code although more optional these days – when in doubt, have a pair with you ready to slip on
  • Gloves work best with sleeveless dresses but can be worn with cap or short sleeve dresse
  • If you wear gloves keep them on while drinking and dancing but remove them for dinner
  • Jewellery can be striking – a great opportunity to show of your finest peices
  • Evening bags should be small and elegant
  • Strappy heels are a must – if not great in heels opt for a fuller heel as it will give you a bit more support

Do you have a special event coming up this and struggling to find the perfect outfit?  Call me for a FREE 30 minute phone consultation.



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