Men’s Dress Code Types & Definitions

Dress codes can point you (and your outfit) in the right direction, but understanding dress code definitions is only the beginning.

Dress code types and dress code style advice.

The dress code is your cheat sheet. If you’ve ignored a wedding dress code or party invite in the past, you know firsthand that wearing the wrong outfit feels like that naked in public nightmare come true. You need the right look, but first you need to understand dress code definitions.

We’ve assembled expert advice for the most common dress code types, with ideas to help you look your best for each code. Find the dress code for your event below, or check out our FAQ section for answers to general questions about dress codes.


Black Tie Attire For Men
The most formal dress code most of us will ever need to follow. This isn’t the time to take creative liberties.
Learn more ➝

Black Tie Optional Dress Code For Men
The dress code that gives you the false choice of either wearing a tuxedo or a dark suit. Don’t fall for it.
Learn more ➝

Cocktail Attire for Men
This dress code is all about individuality. We’ll help you dig deep and find yourself (and the perfect suit).
Learn more ➝

Festive Attire & Creative Black Tie for Men
First time on the red carpet? Just looking to turn heads at the company holiday party? Either way, we’ve got you.
Learn more ➝


Dress Codes FAQ

What are the different wedding dress code types?

In addition to the other eight hundred wedding-related decisions, couples often choose a wedding dress code. The wedding style, theme, venue, and time of day all help to determine the dress code. Everything is on the table, from a black tie wedding to relatively low-key cocktail attire. If the wedding is around major holidays, you might have a festive attire wedding invite coming your way.

Why do guests have to follow the dress code?

Tracking down a tuxedo for a black tie wedding can feel like a totally unnecessary hassle, but the host is doing you a solid by setting expectations. The clearer the dress code, the less likely you are to look (and feel) out of place. You can still write passive-aggressive notes on your RSVPs, but follow the dress codes.

Man in grey men's suit with necktie.

What should I wear if there is no dress code requested on the invitation?

For a wedding, take a conservative approach to wedding cocktail attire—you’ll be in a good position whether it turns out to be a formal wedding or a casual one. For any other event, whether it be business or social, cocktail attire is a safe bet.

What’s missing from each of these no-code suggestions? The tuxedo. You should never have to decide whether a tux is expected—this is why we have dress codes in the first place.

What about other dress code definitions? (e.g. Semi-Formal, Casual)

We don’t want to leave you hanging, but terms like “semi-formal” and “casual” are commonly misused (probably because the internet can’t even agree). For example, “semi-formal” is traditionally another way of saying black tie attire, but a lot of the information out there recommends wearing a dark suit and tie (aka cocktail attire). Basically, we don’t want to make a recommendation when the invite might accidentally be sending the wrong signal.

If your invite does request “semi-formal” attire or another confusing code (dressy casual?), text the couple for clarification. That seems like a lot, but they’ll probably appreciate the consideration.


The Perfect Suit for Every Dress Code

Here’s the deal: there is no “one suit to rule them all” when it comes to dress codes. (The “Sauron Suit,” if you will.) Tuxedos are usually too much for a low-key event, and that grey suit won’t cut it for a black tie wedding. So what can you do about that tux-level dress code on the invite if you don’t own a tux?

Renting sucks. There, we said it. And that’s why we changed it.

Some of these jackets are appropriate for men's cocktail attire.

We know that buying a fine Italian tux doesn’t make sense for everybody. We’ve rented from the local tux depot, and we know that doesn’t make sense for anybody. Thats why we design suits and tuxedos with better fabrics and a modern fit, and deliver them to your door—whether you’re buying for keeps or renting for now.

If your closet doesn’t cover the dress code, we can help. Get started here.