What Every Type of Dress Code REALLY Means For Men

For every occasion and event, there are some conventions related to them which must be respected. One of the most important conventions, yet the very underestimated, is the dress code.

The way we are dressed is the first thing that people notice about us. Therefore, huge attention must be paid in this regard. Because in some situations going in a certain dress code will be perceived as an insult.    

Dress codes are supposed to make choosing what to wear for an occasion easy and straight forward, but today we’re noticing that it’s doing the opposite. Often times, these dress codes aren’t very clear and they leave a lot of men wondering what’s acceptable and what’s not.

With all the rules and extra requirements, it’s hard to know what to wear, especially if the occasion is a big deal for you, you can spend a lot of time not having any idea what you should do.

Luckily for you, you found this article. Here you will learn what, how, and when to use a certain dress code over the other. And we’ll do our best to make sure that you know what every type of Dress Codes actually means in the simplest way possible!

Let’s get to it and see what each dress code means from the less to the most formal, and what you should wear for it!

Casual Dress Code

As its name suggests, Casual Dress Code fits with your everyday lifestyle. It refers to the dressing style you wear casually, appropriate but not formal. It is a dress code that you can put on in picnics, parties, restaurants, shopping malls, and airports to name just a few. 

You can rarely go wrong with this dress code. Casual is the most relaxed type of dress code which makes it very easy to dress for. 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your casual look because no matter what the case might be, you have to make sure you are stylish nonetheless. There are many options you can go with; try getting yourself clothing items that are classic or modern, items that will never go out of fashion. This includes jeans, sweaters, sneakers, simple t-shirts, flannels, denim jackets and other similar clothing items.

You can blend these items to create some great looks that are fashionable, yet simple and very comfortable as long as your look is appropriate. 

What’s cool about this dress code is its flexibility. Opposed to other dress codes, Casual Dress Code can be fully customed according to your own style. Besides, it is the best dress code for showing others a glimpse of your personality and style while being fashionable at the same time.  

Business Casual Dress Code

Work environments, especially offices, banks, and institutions, are more formal than our everyday and casual life. For that, a more professional dress code is required in order to blend in.

Accordingly, Business Casual Dress Code is a step up from casual dressing and has more professional feel to it. It is often required at modern offices that don’t require full-on formal dress codes.

You don’t need to wear a suit, but instead, you should wear clothes that are a bit less formal while staying professional enough. 

A pair of chinos, a sweater, and a blazer would be just perfect for this. You can even wear a shirt for this dress code, just make sure it isn’t too flashy and is actually suitable for the office environment; classic colored Oxford shirts are a great choice.

To complete the look, nothing beats a pair of brogue shoes!

Semi-Formal Dress Code

This one can be a tricky dress code to navigate. It is almost as formal as Black-Tie attire but just one step under it.

If you are invited to a wedding (that is not yours of course), engagement ceremony, gala, charity ball, awards ceremony, auction, or other formal events, Semi-Formal attire is the way to go.

It requires a bit sophisticated, classical look that is also contemporary and modern nonetheless. For a Semi-Formal event or occasion, a suit would be perfect but never wear a tuxedo.

This doesn’t mean you should let go and treat the event like it is a casual thing; in fact, you should maintain an appearance that is very much formal and polished which is the least you can do.

Pick a suit in a light color, for events that happen during the day, and a darker colored one for evening and night events. You can also wear what I call a “mixed suit”; a pair of neat jeans, a formal shirt, a vest, and a nice pair of shoes, however, make sure colors match and avoid the rainbow. Don’t wear a black suit for those are reserved for events that are slightly more formal.

Black Tie Dress Code

This is one of the most famous and typical formal dress codes. 

Unlike the mentioned above dressing codes, Black Ties is very restricted with only a few, if not no, options to choose from. This is because the Black Ties is dedicated to the very important and formal events and occasions of your life. 

If you’re ever invited to a formal evening event, you’ll never go wrong with a black suit and tie! Wear your favorite black tuxedo, or as they’re often called dinner suits, and pair it up with a white, clean, formal shirt.

A bow tie that matches the color of your tux and a pair of dress shoes are just perfect to complete the look. If you want to further polish your look and make it even more sophisticated, nothing would beat a waistcoat.

If the weather is cold, an overcoat that matches the attire would be perfect. While during warm months, white dinner jackets are the way to go.

Sometimes, Black Tie attire ceremonies hold certain themes, whether it is charity, fundraising or any other special ceremony. In this case, your Black Tie outfit would look even greater if you can match it with the overall theme of the event. 

So, again, be creative.  

White Tie Dress Code

If you are required to wear a White Tie attire for a certain event, then you should be proud of yourself because not many get the chance nor the privilege to do so. And we would like to congratulate you for having such an honor.

Royal Events, Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies, State Dinners, Debutante Balls, Academy Awards Ceremony, Charity Balls, Your Own Wedding are all events where a White Tie attire is considered a must. This not only means that you are an important person, but it also means that you should look like a one. 

This is the most formal dress code of them all. White Tie Dress Code doesn’t play around, you have to dress up in your nicest and most formal pieces of clothing that you own, and if you don’t have any, it’s time to go and grab some!

Two things to keep in mind about the White Tie Dress Code: Black and White. This dress code is the most restricted one when it comes to colors. So forget that flashy and shiny vest that you’re having in your closet. 

A black tuxedo with tails, a white tuxedo shirt (pleated or bib-front), a white waistcoat, a white bow tie, and a pair of black, patent leather dress shoes are the least you can wear for this type of dress code events.

I know that dressing in White Tie attires is indeed ridiculously expensive, but if you can’t afford them, you can rent them because it is the minimum to be accepted. And as we said before, you have to be creative when it comes to clothing. The possibilities are limitless if you want to look neat. So, use your wit.


A bonus pro-tip for you is that no matter what dress code you’re wearing, make sure that you are comfortable in your outfit. This will not only make you feel relaxed during events, but it will also make you look confident and stylish. Which is something that most people disregards. 

Because, let’s face it, no matter how expensive or amazing your attire is, it will never look good on you if you’re not comfortable in it. Clothes are made for you in the first place, then people are second. 

So, do never dress up while sacrificing your own comfort because the most important thing is YOU.

Knowing what each dress really means can save you a lot of embarrassment in the future. It will also ensure you have a good time wherever you go and help you both fit in and stand out at the same time!

For that, do not underestimate the power of dress code. And remember, you don’t have to spend your whole salary to fill your closet with all the mentioned above dress codes.

Be creative and use what you already have, and most importantly go out with your own style.

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