As defined in Wikipedia, a dress code is a set of rules defining clothing in a particular event, occasion, or place. The dress code types range from very strict and formal to super casual. In this article, we will cover some of the things you should know about these dress codes.

1. There are many dress code types, should I know all of them?

White tie, black tie, business formal, business casual, smart casual, etc. – I count at least 10 different dress codes. As a regular Joe, how much details should I know about them? In real life (and depending on your line of work), you will encounter business formal, business casual, smart casual, and casual dress code types. Learn the differences between these 4 and you will be fine in 95% of situations in your life.

What about the remaining ones? If you are invited to a fancy event it will be either white tie (the most formal dress code) or black tie. Don’t overthink it. Find the place in your city that rents cloths, they will dress you up for the occasion. From top to bottom, easy and convenient.

2. Better to dress up than down

First day of work, job interview, client meeting, first date, meeting your girlfriend’s relatives for the first time, etc. and do not know which dress code type to pick? As a rule of thumb, it is always better to dress 1 level up than down. Usually you will consider dress codes that are close to each other (e.g. casual vs smart casual). If you are choosing between white tie and casual – you are doing something wrong.

Dressing one level up is a safe choice – it is fairly easy to downgrade from business formal to business casual or smart casual to casual. It does not work the other way around.

3. Less is more

Less is more is a good rule to go by in many situations. Picking clothes is one of them. Simple white dress shirt is the ultimate choice. It is a must for at least half of the dress codes out there. From white tie to business formal, and works well even for casual type with jeans.

“But the tuxedo dress shirt are totally different than the regular one!” – you might say. A short answer is yes, they are. But how often do you go to black tie events? In all other cases go for a classic white dress shirt and you will not miss out. Building a minimalist wardrobe is not only practical, but will save you a lot of time and stress as well.

Don’t go too crazy with accessories. The things that will never go out of style will be a classic stainless steel watch, a nice tie, and a leather belt. Depending on what dress code you are wearing, a bow tie, cufflinks, or even a simple baseball cap fit well. Forget about happy socks, leather bracelets, rings (other than wedding ring or that one ring to rule them all), and necklaces. Some people can pull it off, but there is a place and time for that. Most likely not an average working day.

Dress Codes Can Be Complicated. They Don’t Have to Be

Sometimes simple things like dress codes can be complicated. They don’t have to be. To sum up, there are only 3 things you need to remember:

  • Shortlist the dress codes that fit 90% of your regular life situations and master them. Most likely you will need to know details about casual and one of the business dress codes. Mastering 2 dress code types is easy.
  • If you don’t know what to wear, dress up 1 level. Dress down during the event if you feel overdressed.
  • Keep it simple. Plain and simple is not boring, it is classy and it works!

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