Dress codes aren’t necessarily straightforward are they? Unfortunately, a few small words on the dress code are essentially left up to interpretation – and getting it wrong is more than embarrassing. You don’t want to be the only one in thongs where everyone else has suited up! We’ve broken down some common dress codes and interpreted them so men no longer have to ponder and agonize over what’s appropriate.

Black Tie

black tie

Read the words ‘black tie’ under the dress code? A crisp, (ironed!!) tuxedo or at the very least a classy dinner jacket is a must, along with one other very, very important item – the men’s black tie. Luckily, many men’s fashion stores like Politix sell these higher-end choices. Pop a bright white or coloured long sleeved shirt underneath and pair with some black leather shoes and you definitely won’t be caught out unawares for black tie.

Smart Casual

smart casual

Smart casual gives you a little more wiggle room to explore your fashion sense. This may be a sigh of relief for some – but for most of us it might paralyse us with fear! Not to worry – we’re sure if you looked in your closet right now you’d be able to pull of smart casual. A well cut, sophisticated pair of jeans is acceptable (but maybe leave the ‘distressed denim’ at home). Smart long sleeved shirts are also a green light, as are polo shirts or plain t-shirts with a nice cardigan if that’s more your style. No no’s include hoodies, band t-shirts and thongs.

Cocktail Dress

pale suit

This one is a little confusing from the outset – for women it mean a short fun dress, but for men? Well, it’s definitely not a short fun dress. Think of cocktail dress as the middle ground between black tie and smart casual. It’s by no means a black tie occasion, however jeans might be a bit too laid back. With this one, think blazers, nice trousers and nice shoes – no tie or bow tie required (although if you’re a tie enthusiast, feel free to wear one!) Subdued colours are also advised – a pale blue jacket never goes astray.


semi formal

Lastly, the most confusing one of them all – semi-formal. What the hell does semi-formal even mean?? The name itself seems a contradiction. Basically, semi-formal is the mythical space between black tie and cocktail. Think no jeans, more ‘casual’ suits and sophisticated accessories like a nice watch or silver ring. Sneakers are also not appropriate, formal leather shoes are the go. Most people keep the colour scheme dark, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with paler colours like blue or grey.

Dress codes don’t have to be an alien language for dudes who just want to dress right. If you’re really, really in doubt, just ask the person who sent you the invite – we’re sure they will enlighten you to the right clothes. Then, nobody’s embarrassed or upstaged, and everyone’s happy!

What dress code usually confuses you the most?

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