Polish your style: dress code guide

dress code smart casual and cocktail dress

In our recent survey, many of you expressed interest in the “Polish your style” series of posts so I’ve decided to resurrect them! There will be more changes to CrashingRed as per your wishes and in case you haven’t completed the survey yet you still can do so here.

Anyways, back to the subject of the dress code. I’ve received a lot of questions about dress codes due to the party season being upon us. So I decided to write a quick dress code guide for different occasions with a specific examples that will help you to get through the party season flawlessly.

1. BLACK TIE – formal dress code

In general, that means an evening gown, ie. a long flowing dress. Evening Gowns come in various lengths: Tea which is from mid calf to ankle, Ballerina which is to the ankle, and Full Length which is to the floor. Suitable materials include silk, chiffon, velvet,  and silk.

Cocktail Dress

A short gown. Ranging in length from just above the knee to about two inches above the ankle (Tea length), however the longer length is appropriate to semi-formal wear. Less elaborate dresses are most appropriate for semi-formal wear.

Formal shoes/sandals: To suit your gown or skirt.Jewellery: As much as you feel is appropriate.

Bag: clutch style.

2. WHITE TIE – formal dress code

A full-skirted gown long enough to reach at least the wearer’s ankles, normally with a decollete. Ball Gowns come in two lengths: Ballerina which is to the ankles and Full Length which reaches to the floor. Appropriate materials include silk, satin, taffeta and velvet, with trimmings of lace, pearls, sequins, embroidery, and ruffles.

It would also require a stole and gloves coordinated with a gown.

Jewellery: Couture or Vintage. Show off your best. No watches .

3. COCKTAIL DRESS – informal, also known as lounge dress code.

This dress code in high society is considered informal. Informal may sound casual and it is compared to White Tie and Black Tie but it normally refers to a high standard of dress. Typically cocktail dresses (see description above) are worn to such events.

In relaxed events it might mean Smart Casual, but generally, unless you know for sure it is best to stick to the dress code. You only get one chance to make a first impression so why not present a sophisticated image to new people you may meet? One of my cardinal rules: it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.


Nice blouse, top or nice knit paired with designer skirt or trousers. Note, as one of the defining features of ‘smart’ dress code is a collar, T-shirts should be avoided for most occasions. However they can look smart if worn with a jacket.

Nice shoes and moderate jewellery.

Below is a very scientific diagram that clearly illustrates the above:

cocktail dress, smart casual dress code

Hope, dear reader, this post will be useful for you not only just for the festive season but also in the future. Feel free to take the image above to use it as a reminder what each dress code type stands for.

In our next Polish Your Style post we’ll be looking at Business Dress Code and its variations. Our previous posts from this series can be found here.



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Comments 11


Thank you for taking time to leave a comment! However, the comments section has been playing up recently. It's only working if you leave your name & email. Thanks for understanding, Maria xx

  1. Antonia-Ivana K. December 13, 2012

    This post is so good! Very well explained + nice combinations in the end to demonstrate what you have just written. MORE! :)

  2. Maria V December 13, 2012

     Thank you my dear! I’m glad you liked it :) More is coming! xx

  3. Cassie Goodwin December 13, 2012

    Wow, I didn’t actually know there was such a thing as white tie. Maybe one day I will move in the sort of circles where I might be able to justify a ballgown :)

  4. Maria V December 13, 2012

     You never know Cassie, everything can happen in this life… ;)

  5. Makeup Tips Blog December 13, 2012

    Just so you know this post was extremely helpful! 

  6. Maria V December 13, 2012

     Thank you! I’m glad you liked it – I tried to make it as helpful as possible :) x

  7. DaintyDoll December 13, 2012

    These were fab doll, love the black tie & cocktail event dresses…stunning!! All of them are perfect…another super post…loved it!! Hope you are well sweets xx

  8. Maria V December 13, 2012

    Thank you Kizzy! Now, all we need is an occasion to dress up! xx

  9. Natsumi December 15, 2012

    I love this post and think it’s so very helpful! Although now I’m daydreaming of a white tie invitation coming my way, haha! I guess in another lifetime…

  10. Anya Volkov December 15, 2012

    Oh I LOVE this Maria! I’ve always struggled with the different categories! 

  11. […] here is a second part of a dress code series dedicated to business […]