DRESS CODE. stereotypes, rules, market cases and trends

Stereotypes: Before you break stereotypes, think about what they might bring

Etiquette are the rules for the peaceful coexistence of people on the planet. Or simpler – the norms of people’s behavior in society.

They are the buoys beyond which it is better not to swim: no one goes to a funeral in white, in jeans to “Big”, and in underpants to “Turandot”. Yes, these are stereotypes. But they work.

Behind most norms of etiquette is a deep moral sense that has developed over the centuries.

Do you think a code of dress is invented by limited people to restrict others? Do you shudder when you see the word “BlackTie” in the line “dress code” in the invitation to an event? Inwardly protesting, “What about freedom? Self-expression!? Why are slippers in the office a mauvais ton, and why all these formalities and conventions at all?” Then just imagine for one second that everyone would forget what etiquette is… You can’t do without rules, unless of course you’re a recluse cancer.

RULES: What to wear to avoid falling under the “mauvais ton” sign

Take the same Black Tie. This is a complex image with a lot of nuances. Gathering for such a party will take a lot of time (especially for women). On the “fancy” and specific White Tie is scary to say the least – good thing the ceremony “Oscar” and the court balls in the life of our brothers, advertisers and sisters, PR happens very rarely.

Opinion Leader

Black Tie dress code parties involve a specific entourage in which jeans will look like UFOs, no less. Similarly, you can’t show up at Burger King in a tuxedo: uncomfortable, uncomfortable, inappropriate. And you can spoil an expensive thing with ketchup, too.

You have to understand that the dress code is a kind of bridge between the event and the person. This is a tool that allows you to look appropriate and correspond to a specific occasion, a specific situation, specific circumstances.

In order not to get confused, not to sit in a rut, not to get into trouble, not to be a black sheep and not to get a disqualifying red card called “Cocktail!”, we will tell you about the dress codes that are most often found in the invitations to the celebrations.


Let’s start with the top three most austere outfits.

White Tie, aka Cravate Blanche.

“White tie” is considered the strictest dress code, appropriate at a presidential or dignitary’s reception, a charity ball at the court, or the presentation of high awards, prizes.


Tailscoat with white bow tie

White vest

White gloves

Pocket watch

Black patent leather shoes


Floor-length evening dress.

White gloves above elbow.

High heels

Evening bag

Precious jewelry

Black Tie, aka Cravate Noire

Black Tie – a more democratic dress code, if compared with the White Tie, and is suitable for formal evening receptions at a lower level than the presidential: Christmas party, a wedding, the premiere at the theater, advertising awards.



Black bowtie


Black shoes


Cocktail or long evening gown

Shoes with heels, with no excessive decorations and to the tone of the dress

Costume jewelry (quality)

Clutch bag

Sostav at the Big Fish Awards stated exactly this dress code.

Formal, aka Formal Attire

This dress code is close to Black Tie, but can sometimes imply a more fashionable look or creativity. It is appropriate for a formal evening reception. It is referred to as the social type of dress code for attending formal events.


Tuxedo or dark ceremonial suit


Black shoes


Cocktail/long dress, little black dress or evening set

Heeled shoes

SPLOSH MOVETON or TOP Mistakes in Wearing Tuxedos

1 The suit is too big: the shoulder seams are out of place, as if the jacket had been removed from an older brother. The pants are wide and/or too long, making them gather in an accordion at the bottom.

This is not over-size, gentlemen!

2 The suit is small: the diagonal pleats on the front of the jacket and the horizontal ones on the back tell us this. The pants are short and the socks stick out. This is good for casual, but definitely not for White and Black Tie.

Maybe you’re still growing?

3 The bottom button is buttoned up: we’re not in a barracks, and the tuxedo is not a tunic. By the way, the handsome Leo DiCaprio systematically breaks the rule and buttons all the buttons, but that’s more of an authorial style than a breach of etiquette.

Leo, we forgive you!

4 Short tie: the length of the attribute should reach to the top of the belt buckle. In the case of slightly lower fitting jeans, a small distance between the end of the tie and the buckle is acceptable.

Don’t go overboard like this character!

5 Jacket sleeves are short: this is acceptable for casual or even smart style. But it is not customary to flaunt expensive watches in a tuxedo.

6 Another rule: Shirt sleeves should not be too short either.

7 The slacks on tuxedo pants are bad. It is advisable to sew the suit, not to buy it in the mass market. You need to spend time on the piece to realize its greatness.

8 It is not good at all when the shirt collar lies over the collar of the jacket.

9 Don’t go overboard with the microdesign of fabrics. A shirt, a tie, a suit all in plaid at the same time – it’s rather comical!

Distracted by important little things. Now let’s continue the typology of evening dress codes.

Six less formal dress codes.

Black Tie Invited.

“Black tie is welcome” usually at a corporate banquet, dinner party or family celebration.



Black, thin-soled shoes.


Cocktail dress, long dress or pantsuit

Heeled shoes


Semi-formal dress code is appropriate for dinner parties, corporate banquets and family gatherings. Everything as in the paragraph above. It allows for freedom, but strictly according to the event.


Dark suit.

(regular suit until 6pm).


Classic shoes


Cocktail dress

Fancy dress or day dress

(before 6pm)

Heeled shoes

Cocktail Attire.

This dress code, like Black Tie Invited, is accepted at corporate or family functions.


Dark suit.

Classic Shoes


Cocktail dress.

Heeled shoe

A5 (After Five).

“After Five.” This designation can be complemented by others, such as A5 Semi-formal. Otherwise, A5 stands for “Cocktail.”

A5 may appear on invitations to any evening event after 5pm.


Suit, not necessarily business casual. Any colors.

Jeans, corduroy pants, club jackets and knitwear are appropriate

Tie optional.

Classic or loafers


Cocktail dress, top and skirt, dressy suit with skirt or pants

Heeled shoe

A5 C (After Five Casual).

One of the most casual evening styles. The occasion is any evening event, corporate event and so on.


Clothing by famous brands or designers. Alternative: plain suit with a shirt without a tie.

Pants or jeans

Sweater or cardigan

Classic shoes or moccasins.


Suit, dressy dress, pants, jeans


Heeled shoes

Creative Black Tie

The name speaks for itself. The Black Tie rules are the basis, and then a variety of interpretations through the lens of creativity. Black Tie Invited is a popular dress code for corporate parties.


Tuxedo with non-traditional accessories or unusual colors

Informal tuxedo with dark shirt, mottled vest

No tie


Long, short dress or evening set

Ethnic or themed accessory

High heels

Opinions of event-industry experts on why we need a dress code

It’s time to turn to fellow eventologists and get their expert opinion on how strictly people adhere to the dress code? And in general, is there a place for strict rules in the future?

PRT: “You don’t have to fight, you have to inspire guests.”

Why do we need a dress code?

People are the main component of any party. More important than food, drinks, music, and location. So the appearance of the guests and the mood dictated by them is almost the main factor of success. Or conversely, failure.

How strictly do people invited to evenings with a certain dress code comply with it?

The percentage of people who comply with the dress code can vary greatly, but on the average it is from 50% to 95%, to put it in terms of dry numbers. The exact proportion always depends on several factors: what kind of people are invited, how important the event itself is for the guests, when the event takes place – on a weekend or a weekday.

If it is a weekday, it is important, whether the organizers have provided time for guests to go home and change. Also, a lot depends on the brightness of the concept, the organizer and the declared “premium.

Remember vivid examples when people observed and when ignored the dress code at events organized by your agency.

At our media industry events, especially the Digital Christmas Tree, we managed to instill in people a taste for carefully observing the dress code. Therefore, the photo reports from there are very beautiful and incredibly popular.

At IZMENI SOZNANIE, an outdoor event with several parties, the situation is a bit worse. The high density of entertainment and the high status of the guests, who want to be accepted for who they are. And they’re right in their own way.

How do you fight it? Do you have to fight it at all?

It is necessary not to fight, but to encourage guests to be “in the atmosphere”, because the dress code is introduced for their own pleasure. So if it’s “exotic,” it makes sense to show examples of bows. For example, before every Digital Christmas tree we make a fun themed team photo shoot and post it on social media. And it serves as a kind of reference point for many people.

Why do we need a dress code?

It is a very important conventional signal that defines a person as “his own – alien”. It is the properly chosen costume that indicates that the person is adequate and equal to the other guests of the event.

Usually people are very afraid to become the black sheep. For example, when all the guests come in free democratic clothes casual, and suddenly there is a certain rarefied guest. He immediately gives out a stranger at the party. The dress code helps to disguise and be equal among the other guests. At school this task is performed by the uniform, in the army – the uniform, in the corporation – corporate clothes, but at a party this function is performed by the dress code.

I highly recommend everyone to comply with it, but do not forget about your uniqueness. You can always add something to the image and interpret it in interesting ways.

How strictly do people invited to parties with a certain dress code comply with it?

You can define it in an approximate ratio of 70 to 30. 70% – try to comply. 30% – do not take it to heart.

In order for the guests to support the party by observing the dress code, this task is worth special attention. First, come up with a curious name and description of the party to pique the interest of guests. Secondly, it is worth pointing out that without a dress code there is a chance of not getting to the desired party.

However, its strict implementation is not always necessary. Sometimes, on the contrary, it is great when people do not look the same, but diverse and free, experimenting with appearance. Therefore, you should always assess how necessary this dress code.

Remember vivid examples when people observed and when ignored the dress code at events organized by your agency.

There is no strict dress code at our events. We do presentations and lonchas of different brands. As a rule, it requires a dress code of smart casual or cocktail. Personally, I am very sensitive to this point and always dress according to the declared style, to support the organizers of the event and avoid unpleasant stories.

I remember one confrontational situation that happened to me and my friends at the entrance to the club “Fantomas”. Everyone was absolutely in compliance with the dress code, was dressed perfectly and with the highest taste, but one of the guests was wearing sneakers. They were non-standard, made of reflective leather, which was very eye-catching.

We had a long argue with the director and the fayscontrol on the question if these are sneakers or just a trendy new shoes, not yet understandable. In the end the conflict was safely resolved, but such moments are extremely unpleasant, and do not cause a renewed desire to visit such places.

Is it necessary to fight for the dress code in general? Is it necessary to oblige people to observe it?

The world is changing and developing very quickly. The attitude to the dress code is becoming more democratic and there are practically no strict restrictions on this point anymore. Before it was impossible to go to the theater and wear sports shoes, but now, even at the Bolshoi Theatre, you can go in a stylish sports outfit.

But sometimes we as the organizers really need the guests to support the party with a set dress code. It also happens that the very concept of the party is just the guests’ outfits. Moreover, there are traditional holidays, such as the national holiday of Israel – Purim, or everyone’s favorite Halloween, when absolutely all the guests should come in carnival costumes. “Midsummer Nite” is exactly the case when the holiday is the costume. This is where guests need to be explained the importance of the dress code, and then they will gladly support the party.

Why do we need a dress code?

A dress code is an integral part of any event, and it doesn’t matter if the invitation says so or not – you still wear something and show up wearing something.

How strictly do people invited to events with a certain dress code comply with it?

According to our statistics, the more understandable and established dress code (Black Tie / Cocktail / Business Casual) is perfectly followed by the guests, but there is always a 10% of patsies (as I call them) who decide to distinguish themselves and wear their favorite sweater. Usually these people feel uncomfortable and are the first to “skedaddle” out of the party. Still there is always a person who perceives Black Tie in his own way and comes in a wedding dress (a case from the life of the agency, but, unfortunately, I can not attach a photo).

Is it worth obligating people to comply with it? If so, how do you help them do it?

If you as an organizer want your guests to comply with your dress code requirements, they need to be helped and told as much as possible about it so they don’t have any questions. Instead of writing Dress Code: futuristic black-tie at the bottom of the invitation, prepare them a “wiseboard” and include it in the invitation. (Moodboard is not a swear word, but an effective tool for visual presentation of your idea – a “mood palette” that will help guide guests in selecting dress code attire, note Sostav).

The good thing about pinterest.com these days, for example, is that it’s easy to do. Plus, you can put together a board of matching bows right there. Here you can also integrate partners and tell guests where to rent or buy the right look.

If it’s at all complicated, you can make a separate area right at the event where people can tidy themselves up. Now everyone is a creator and can realize their trends, and in clothes, too, this can be seen. The main thing is to understand the standards and not to go overboard with color / flair / length and so on.

Parties that require a dress code are the norm for civilized society. In terms of marketing and branding – it is a demonstration of belonging to a community or event through the use of common attributes. Moreover, it’s not necessarily a question of tuxedo-smokings and the notorious Black Tie. Fishermen, gathering together, dress as fishermen, and paratroopers on their holiday wear vest and blue berets. This is also the dress code.

Belonging to a club, observing rules and all sorts of conventions is not an empty fad. So to evade the wishes of the organizer of the party is not comical. It’s better not to go at all, than to defend yourself with weak arguments like: “I’m so free of rules and conventions that I can afford not to comply with the dress code.

There are real marginalists and renegades who spit on recommendations and public opinion. These are the really famous and honored people, the celebrities, politicians or public figures, and they, as the sheriff in the old movie said, “have the right”! But let the rest of the citizens earn that right first, or else they risk being seen as the ignoramuses from Tagil, which they are.

The last or brightest case when you complied with the dress code. How was that?

Last summer I had to wear a tuxedo several times, as required by the dress code. And every time I felt a little discomfort, I kept telling myself that it was necessary, I’m not a waiter, not a mascot and not a presenter at a Dagestan wedding. All normal people shy away from tuxedos without enough experience. Then it goes away when they see everyone around them is like that.

It turns out that tuxedos have their own fashion and their own stylistic differences, different cuts, lapels, and lapels. And then there are bow ties, belts (which are better fastened upside down), vests, patent shoes, pins and scarves.

And so once you learn how to fold a chestkerchief in the first uncomplicated seven ways, it will immediately become easier. And you’ll stop feeling like a clownish quiz expert on “What? Where? When?” And certainly ridiculous in your eyes will seem the guests in jeans and bowties, and frankincense vests and with the usual trouser belt. And even a man simply in a dark suit, but not in a tuxedo, will look at the party as a black sheep.

What is your sincere attitude toward this line in the invitation? Is a dress code necessary?

Party planners who require a strict dress code should think ten times – do they themselves conform to that code in format? Are golf, polo, luxury sports cars, and yachts among the sponsors? Is Netrebko’s performance on the program? Are Shuvalov and Sechin coming? Are they?

Otherwise I wouldn’t bother making my guests go through all the trouble of scouring the stores for wedding and funeral rental equipment a week in advance. So many sensible ceremony planners, when inviting guests, add something like “or at your discretion” after the strict Black Tie requirement. We should always give everyone a chance and a choice. Corme the golf-course-yacht-Kremlin-Oscar cases …

How often do you have to attend events with a stated dress code?

The stated dress code is like a precise brief for creating an image. It helps a lot! At least for me it is. And if you get an invitation without it, I always clarify the essence of the event, what its format is. Because the dress code is like litmus paper – it tells about the event in advance.

Experienced “party person” is not afraid of the words Black Tie. Such a dress code is declared not so often, so it’s enough to have a few classic dresses to the floor at all times. After all, as you know, the design of evening gowns is not so subject to the momentary trends of fashion. The main thing is to alternate the outfits correctly, so that you won’t end up wearing the same thing on the social photo reports.

Maybe I’ll let someone in on a secret: there are certain allowances for Black Tie. For ladies, the length of the dress is allowed up to the knee, but in no case higher! Sandals are possible, but only with a floor-length dress. Men instead of a tuxedo and a bow tie are allowed a black suit and black tie, and a white shirt or at most black!

How do you usually get out of it when you see the information about the dress code in the invitation?

It’s great when they don’t just prescribe a generally accepted standard, but give you a chance to fantasize about it! For example: “80s”, “Brilliant”, “Great Gatsby”, “Animalistic”, “Futuristic”. Then you can show your creativity, and you’re sure to get noticed by society photographers, and that’s extra PR!

I have had a closet for 20 years, since my work in women’s glossy magazine. And to this day I try to buy unique things, but quite “wearable”, so I take the dress out of the closet after 5 years, and it is still relevant (and the chance to see someone in an identical dress tends to zero)! So I almost always make do with my own closet. Although I must admit that sometimes I do borrow accessories from my friends, like a clutch or a fur coat of the right color.

Think of a striking case where the dress code succeeded!

First, I want to highlight the Monte Carlo Races (choosing a hat is always exciting)! Secondly, I would like to note the impeccable observance of the Black Tie at the Gift of life Foundation Ball in London. And third, I remember the Total Black dress code at the gala dinner of Radio Maximum, which I also supported with makeup and accessories. And one of the last events I attended was the presentation of TNT4 television channel. Although the dress code was not declared, I chose a jumpsuit in which you are like James Bond, ready for any turn of events. Which turned out to be quite in the spirit of TNT4 – with a fair share of humor.

What is your sincere attitude to this line in the invitation? Is there a dress code?

I am genuinely uncomfortable WITHOUT that line! A prescribed dress code is a sign of the quality of preparation and level of the event. Main Target Group prepares and hosts about 10 events a year, and the dress code is always announced in advance so that event participants have time to prepare appropriate attire! And remember, only if you’re Johnny Depp can you not follow it!

How often do you have to attend events with a stated dress code? When you see, for example, Black Tie in the line, are you happy or not?

I don’t have a Black Tie in my closet, as well as Blue Tie, Green Tie, and no Tie at all, to be honest. Well, if I have to have one, I go to a store and buy it. Although there are creative dress codes, then it’s even fun.

The most striking case when the dress code came to my heart!

The most striking – at university, we wanted to go to a party in the 70’s, which were allowed for free in case of appropriate clothing. So we spent half the night at friends’ parents’ houses, shooting for clothes, and when we packed a set and got to the party, it was over. Of late, my own New Year’s Eve event with the “Crazy House” concept. I was in a rented house robe.

Is there a dress code necessary?

Everything has to be appropriate. If it’s a wedding, it’s probably understandable and forgivable. And the photos are great. If it’s a celebration of 32.5 years, then wanting to see everyone in crocodile leather – too much.

I recently received an invitation to a birthday party where instead of a dress code, a public performance of a poem is mandatory. Oh, I’d rather have a Black Tie…

Smart Future

Time itself dictates that we have time to always and everywhere, and in order to do so, we can simplify our outfits wisely. We also believe that the era of “smart casual” is coming – it will reign in all areas, and the dress code is no exception.

First and foremost, “smart” is in the very approach to that line in the invitations. We have already seen that eventologists are preparing “smartboards”, put the philosophy of their events into the dress code, or simplify their events, changing the format for the convenience of the guests. In short, they do everything possible to make us feel comfortable and interesting to follow the dress code as if on the side – in order to have fun, to be creative.

And don’t let the dress code be an excuse to skip an event if you don’t have a proper dress or tuxedo!


Will the line between casual and evening closets ever erase? Will the Black Tie die? We’ll see, but in the meantime…

…When’s your next gala where you need to demonstrate your knowledge of the nuances of the Black Tie or Cocktail dress code? Yes, in fact, whenever it happens, you now have detailed material on the subject with vivid examples of the do’s and don’ts.

So keep our #Bonton#Moveton handy and be a guru when it comes to dress code at events. Be pertinent and elegant, because we meet by the clothes, and sometimes this is how we see off.