Dress Codes Defined

Dress Codes Defined

Dress Codes Defined

Have you ever been invited to a party and was told to dress up? But when you dress up, it just means putting on pants that have a zipper and belt loops, not a drawstring. So you ask, “Dress up? Like how dressed up?” And you get this, “It’s not formal, maybe semi-formal. Dressy casual and business casual is fine too.” If you’re like me, you would probably be wondering what the difference between semi-formal, dressy casual and business casual is. So let’s dive right in.




Easy. You know what it is. But be careful when people say casual, it doesn’t always mean wear whatever you want. I mean, go watch the Casual Friday episode from The Office. There are still boundaries. If you’re working for a company that is casual dress every day, don’t wear shorts until someone who’s been working there longer than you have pulls them out. The same applies to flip-flops. While you don’t want to be too casual, the opposite is true too. Overdressing and underdressing just give you unwanted attention.




The line between business casual and casual dress is pretty blurry. For some people, those two are exactly the same. Business casual usually constitutes long pants that aren’t slacks or suit pants (chinos and khakis), a collared shirt (polos or button-downs) and dress shoes. Jeans are appropriate, but not the ones with holes or ones that sag closer to your knees than your hips. If you’re thinking about a tie, we’d lean towards a no. The white dress shirt might be a little formal, depends on your pants. This is a good time to pull out colors and patterns. Don’t let the name fool you though, business casual is definitely appropriate for a nice date.



I’m not sure how adding a tie or blazer makes it smart, but smart casual is basically business casual with a tie or blazer. If you opt for the tie, make sure it matches your shirt. You can wear a tie or a plaid shirt but never both. More formal shirts like a white dress shirt are more appropriate now. This is also a good time for seeing what works between blazers, pants, and shirts. If it works well, feel free to break up a suit combination and wear a suit coat with more casual pants.



Ever seen the show Suits? If you have, you’re all set. Just wear what they wear in the show. If not, I hope the title of the show is enough of a clue. Suit and ties are mandatory, as well as a dress shirt. However, when it comes to the shirt, you can show some personality with color and pattern. Subtle patterns or solid colors that compliment your suit and tie can really make you stand out. Your suit jacket and your pants should match. Suit vests and suspenders are optional. Unless you’re an NBA All-Star, I’d avoid the shorts.



Semi-formal takes the business dress code to the next level. Suits should be a dark color, black is a safe choice. Shirts are required to be white. You may want to try out that bowtie, but not now, same goes with the tuxedo. There’s not much wiggle room with a semi-formal event.



This isn’t your high school formal – That was semi-formal at best. Imagine the fancy parties you see in movies. Renting a tuxedo is definitely appropriate, if not expected unless you’re fancy and already own one. Yes! Bring out the bowtie. Your shirt should be white, a black tux with a black bowtie is safe and expected.


At the end of the day, you decided what these dress codes entail. If you are Barney Stinson and live in a suit, own it, be comfortable in it. If your closet resembles a highlighter collection, love it, go and show off those colors. I believe in comfort and individuality. Blue and White Collar does too. Of course, there are situations that call for different outfits, so when you need a dress shirt to dress up or dress down, we’re ready for that.


With lots of love,

The Blue and White Collar team