Dress Code Types & Definitions: The Complete Guide For Men

Like the North Star, or the smells coming from a good Italian restaurant, dress codes can point you and your outfit in the right direction. But understanding dress code definitions is only the first step.

Dress code types and dress code style advice.

The dress code is your cheat sheet. If you’ve ever ignored a wedding dress code or party invite before, you know how awkward wearing the wrong outfit can feel—basically that naked-in-public nightmare come true. Which brings us to step two: finding the right look.

That’s probably why you’re here, and you’re in luck. 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.
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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).
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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 have a lot to consider when choosing their wedding dress code. Wedding style and theme, venue, and what time the wedding will take place all have some influence over the dress code. That means everything is on the table, from a black tie wedding to low-key cocktail attire. If the wedding is around the major holidays, you might even see a festive attire wedding invite coming your way.

Why do guests have to follow the dress code?

When you open an invitation and learn you’ll need to track down a tuxedo, it can feel like a totally unnecessary hassle. But consider: the host is doing you a solid by setting the expectation. The clearer the dress code, the less likely you are to stand out for the wrong reasons. You can still write something passive-aggressive on your RSVP, but follow the dress code.

Man in grey men's suit with necktie.

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

You’ll need to read the room. Wedding invite? 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 almost 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 on invitations (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).

If your invite does request “semi-formal” attire or another confusing code (dressy casual?), you should just ask the couple what they mean. Text, don’t call.

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. Buying a great suit can make sense if you don’t wear a tuxedo very often, but what about that tux-level dress code on the invite?

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.

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