The most common dress codes - How to dress with respect to the occasion?
White tie is the most formal of all the dress codes. This dress code is used for particularly festive occasions (such as promotions, weddings and high-profile official events such as the President of the Republic of Finland’s Independence Day reception). For a man, it means a tailcoat and a white tie. For a woman, the white-tie dress code means an evening gown: it must be floor-length, which, according to the code, means that only the toe of the shoe must show under the hem. See, for example, evening dress by Katri Niskanen. When you want something extra, Anni Ruuth’s Swan Queen top is the perfect choice.
Psst… Did you know that a formal full-length evening gown and a cocktail dress mean different things? A formal full-length evening gown is longer and often also more flamboyant than a cocktail dress. As its name suggests, it should be full-length, while the cocktail dress can be shorter if it suits the nature of the occasion.
According to etiquette, black-tie events are occasions that start after 6 p.m. For a man, the black-tie dress code means a black tie, as the name suggests, as well as a dinner jacket, i.e. a tuxedo, which is traditionally either black or white. For a woman, it means a cocktail dress (most often a long one) or a full-length evening gown. For example, Katri Niskanen’s Florence evening gown is an excellent choice.
Our tip: You don’t necessarily have to wear a dress to a black-tie event; a festive trouser suit is also an appropriate choice.
A dark suit dress code is the most common - it’s appropriate for almost any kind of event regardless of the time of day. The code means festive, dignified attire. For men, this translates as a black or dark suit. For women, the semi-formal dress code means an evening dress made of a festive material.
The cocktail dress code is slightly more casual than the dark suit dress code. This dress code is often used for informal occasions such as birthday parties, office Christmas parties or cocktail parties that start after 6 p.m. For a man, a stylish suit jacket with smart trousers is the perfect outfit for a cocktail party. For a woman, a classic cocktail dress, a smart trouser suit or a festive skirt and top is a safe choice for events that specify the cocktail dress code.
Smart casual is a touch more relaxed than the cocktail and semi-formal dress codes. As its name suggests, smart casual means dressing smart, but casually. A good rule of thumb is to dress a little more smartly than your everyday style.
For a woman, a trouser suit or a skirt and blouse is a good choice. A stylish dress paired with a blazer or a blazer with denim also work well. For a man, a snazzy collared shirt, a fine knit jumper and smart trousers are a good choice.
Business formal is a conservative dress code used specifically in the workplace. As you’ve probably guessed, business formal refers to smart, business-like (work) attire. For men, the business formal dress code means, at its simplest, a dark suit with a dress shirt and tie. For women, a suitable business formal outfit could be a trouser suit or a combination of a smart skirt and a conservative blouse or top that’s not too revealing. A sophisticated business-style dress is also always a safe choice.
Business casual is a slightly more formal dress code than smart casual, but not as formal as business formal. Business casual is actually a combination of these two dress codes – it’s often used for informal occasions that nevertheless require you to look smart (for example, business receptions and parties). For men, a great choice for business casual is a blazer and smart trousers styled in different ways. For a woman, the perfect business casual outfit could be a cocktail dress, or a blazer worn with a more casual skirt or trousers.
Don’t forget that in addition to the dress code, it always pays to consider the nature of the event, as well as the time of day it takes place. If you’re not sure what to wear, don’t be afraid to ask the event host. You can also ask us, we’re always happy to help!