Cracking The Dress Code On Holiday Parties

Black tie. Creative black tie. Cocktail. Casual Chic. We’re guessing you have an idea of what half of these dress code terms mean, but the other half is rather confusing. Dress codes are not only becoming more popular, but are also becoming more obscure. “It used to be it was either no dress code at all or black tie. There was nothing in between, and now it seems like every invitation you get has some variation on a theme that is just incredibly confusing,” says Hope Greenberg of Lucky.Thankfully, Greenberg deciphers these dress codes just in time for your holiday party.

Black Tie: Obviously, this means a tuxedo for the men and a fancy gown for the ladies.

  1. Dress: $177, Laundry
  2. Shoes: $145, J. Crew
  3. Earrings: $39, Banana Republic

Black Tie Optional: Optional sounds confusing, right? Well this dress code calls for a suit for men. Women needn’t wear their fanciest ball gown, but they should wear something more special than cocktail attire.

  1. Dress: $178.20, DKNY
  2. Shoes: $155, Max Studio
  3. Beaded Clutch: $38, Urban Outfitters

I thought cocktail was synonymous with black tie optional, so now I’m really confused.

Cocktail: This calls for a dress that can go from day to evening because it usually happens after work. A change of shoes and some jewelry makes the dress party-ready.

  1. Dress: $118.80, Lauren Moffatt
  2. Shoes: $99, Guess
  3. Ring: $16.99, Urban Outfitters

Casual Chic: It’s time for a little pizzazz. “Something a step up from what you would wear to a regular party on a regular weekend,” says Greenberg. A little bit of beading, fancy jewelry, or a sparkly shoe or bag are totally appropriate and festive.

  1. Pants: $69.99, J. Crew
  2. Top: $59.99, J. Crew
  3. Shoes: $75, Jessica Simpson

Now for the most obscure of all…

Creative Black Tie: Break out the colors or patterns. The key here is to be original, meaning be more unexpected than your typical long black dress.

  1. Dress: $315, Chetta B
  2. Shoes: $59.99, Nine West
  3. Bracelet: $49, Banana Republic
  4. Earrings: $49, Banana Republic

When in doubt, ask the host about the dress code because the most important thing is to be comfortable, says Greenberg. []