Formal dress code: what does it consist of?

The dress code is established according to the protocol of each event. We tell you the most important ones so as not to fail when dressing.

Last update: January 01, 2022

Choosing the correct wardrobe to attend an event is an act of utmost importance. For this, there are protocol rules that have been created with the aim of unifying garments. Here’s how the formal dress code works.

The formal style is marked by key pieces, such as bow ties or court shoes in the case of women. However, if you are attending a wedding, an awards ceremony, or a political event, you will need to follow different dress rules for each occasion.

Also, many times the dress code stated in the invitation. And it will depend on the weather conditions and the time the event takes place. Formal dressing has its science, that’s why we explain it to you in a practical and simple way.

What is the formal dress code?

Formal dress is a set of established rules and codes that are conceived from perceptions and social rules that adjust to purposes and circumstances. The type of wardrobe will be influenced by the location, the intention of the event, the weather and the time of day.

It is important to understand that formal wear differs from etiquette, as the latter is governed by stricter codes. Even so, everything is a complement, so behavior and good manners also accompany the wardrobe.

Types of formal dress

An event can be very sophisticated, as well as rigorously formal. But nevertheless, what determines the wardrobe is the level of etiquette required.

Rigorous label or white tie

This modality is used for events such as government ceremonies, operas or political events. As for the choice of wardrobe, greater elegance is required.

For example, in the case of women there is a greater use of long dresses with plain fabrics and neutral colors. As for men, it is essential to wear a tailcoat with a white shirt, bow tie or formal tie.

The obligation of certain elegant attire is imperative in government ceremonies, for example.

Black tie

This dress code is a bit similar to the previous one, only is more flexible in terms of colors, accessories and lengths of the dress. It is usually elegant, but allows a little more risk when selecting clothes.

The tailored suit for women and the long dress continue to reign in the label black tieHowever, if the event is held on the day, the use of subtle prints and warm colors is allowed. In the event that the celebration is nocturnal, the outfit will tend to be sober.

The tuxedo and bowties are the best option for men, as well as the tones Oxford, gray and navy blue. One of the keys to not diminish elegance will be to wear both a jacket and pants of the same color.


This is one of the dress codes more versatile and easy to get, since moves between formal and casual. It is also widely used in baptisms, graduations, inaugurations and even marriages.

Here the use of men’s suits will continue to be present, only patterned or colored ties, loafers or lace shoes and even suspenders are allowed.

Business formal

This code is usually established by some companies for their employeesEither to attend work or to go to a business event. In addition, it is the least formal of all. However, it denotes elegance and quality.

Reflecting a professional image is prioritized, so men will wear suits with neutral tones and shirts beige, white and blue combined with colored ties. In women, straight skirts at the knee are allowed, the blazers and shirts.

Formal dress code for women

Looking properly and according to the dress code that the event poses is a task that requires previously investigating how the indications are. Here we show you the most important ones.


Although it depends on the type of code, the most used dresses are long, mid-length or two-piece suits. If shirts are used, they should not be too long or too short, as they should promote a professional image. Another recommendation is to opt for neutral and dark colors at night and leave the lighter ones or the patterns for the day.


Either for a gala or to follow one of the above labels, the standard shoes are heels, closed or sandal type. In this sense, the use of black, gray and blue colors also prevails.


The type c baglutch It is a small piece that can be carried by hand or with a thin strap for formal events. And if the code is business professional, the most recommended is to carry smooth wallets in black and brown tones, which are not excessively large.

Clothing width

Although dresses that highlight the silhouette are suitable for some events, it is important to opt for a middle point, since on some occasions, clothes that are too tight can be synonymous with lack of elegance. On the contrary, when pants or shirt are too baggy, they convey lack of seriousness.

Formal dresses for women will have the color according to the time of day in which the event takes place.

Formal dress code for men

Although the male wardrobe seems to be less complex than the female one, the truth is that there are aspects that must be taken into account when deciding on one outfit or another. Here are some tips.

Full suit

This is the quintessential outfit of any formal dress code, only that for each occasion the colors and accessories change. It includes a jacket and pants, but it can be converted into a suit when a vest is implemented.

The tailcoat and tie are essential to wear at night. Also, other more informal options are a white shirt, black or blue pants and a jacket in neutral colors.

Tie or bow tie

The most sophisticated events demand tuxedo, so that the most appropriate thing is to wear a black bow tie. To project formality in other events it is necessary to wear a tie, although it will depend on the dress code if it must be plain or it can have a pattern or color.


The shoes are the closure of each look, which makes them very important pieces when creating a formal outfit. In a code black or white tie you should choose black lace-up and completely smooth. For example, to complement a tuxedo looking for type shoes Oxford patent leather.

Study the formal dress code for your next event

Formal wear is not only specified for certain events. Some professions or public offices demand looks elegant in which the previous wardrobe rules prevail.

So if you want to hit the code required in an invitation, it is necessary to follow the preset parameters and don’t break any rules. Unless the occasion allows it.

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