How to Dress for Success for Any Occasion

More than 150,000 people recently signed a petition in support of Westminster receptionist, Nicola Thorpe when she was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels. As a result, parliament was forced to investigate sexist work dress codes and subsequently called for a review of equality legislation in the workplace. Dress codes are everywhere in modern society and the boundaries are continually changing in step with our values and fashion. After all, we don’t dress in the same way today as we did fifty, or even twenty years ago and our social or work fashion etiquette has evolved accordingly. Whether you’re wondering what to wear as a recent graduate or how to adhere to a dress code for a social event, then check out this guide to help you make sense of the most common dress code terms.

When to dress smart casual

While there are no hard and fast rules to dressing in a smart casual way, it is possible to adapt your wardrobe easily to fit in with the required look according to the event you’re going to. You wouldn’t, for example, turn up one evening to play at a casino wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Instead you might wear clothes that reflect classic and contemporary styles which are more appropriate for your image at a casino. This could include a cocktail dress for women or straight leg trousers with a buttoned-up shirt or polo for a man. If you’re in any doubt, ring the venue beforehand to clarify what’s acceptable to wear for the occasion.

When to wear business casual

The mix of these two contradictory words makes this definition quite possibly one of the most confusing to follow. The combination of ‘business’ which implies professionalism and ‘casual’ which suggests relaxed, means that the dress code in an office can vary considerably according to the work industry, location and even age group. Given that business attire has significantly changed over the years, the shift in wearing appropriate clothing has been more difficult to define. For women, consider a dress or skirt which sits past the knee, or smart trousers with an understated blouse. Men should wear tailored trousers with a collared shirt, preferably with a belt. The look should not be overly formal but yet be polished with a relaxed feel.

When to be a casual dresser

The casual or informal dress code can suggest an open invitation to wear what you feel most comfortable in but still reflects your style and personality. One of the most important things to consider is to wear your clothes with confidence as studies have shown that clothing affects our self esteem in different situations. It may be that jeans and t-shirt with some low key accessories will suffice at most informal events. While, casual implies that anything goes, it does not usually mean you can turn up wearing a tracksuit and trainers so think carefully how casual you are expected to be before your arrival.

If you’re still in doubt over what to wear make sure you do your research first either by speaking to the venue beforehand, or asking a friend for advice. The last thing you want to do is to turn up wearing clothes which are inappropriate to the occasion!