Men's Dress Code Guide (2023)

How do you build a wardrobe?

Have you walked into a store and been overwhelmed at the options that are available?

Or maybe you look in your closet and you want to know if you have everything you need? How can you tell if your wardrobe is good?

In the spirit of maximizing time, let's quickly go over a few looks you should know.

Specifically, there are 6 looks that every man should be able to master. You should shop with these looks in mind or if you do wardrobe assessment, with the goal of being able to create these dress codes with your existing clothes.

Let’s discuss the looks below!

1. Semiformal / Business Attire

Professional attire is the look that gentlemen wear in very professional environments. It's the uniform of lawyers, bankers, professors, Wall Street traders, and other business environments where decorum and professionalism are woven into the culture and fabric of the organization.

As such, the first step to mastering this look is to know your environment. Most businesses are explicit in saying that the dress code is professional attire so there is no second-guessing.

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When a gentleman is dressed in professional attire, he's communicating that he is about taking care of some serious business. His outfit says that his focus is sharp, that he's intellectually capable, and he's intent about the work that needs to be accomplished. There is a high level of respect that comes with this look.

Recommendations

  • Suit: Navy is considered the power color but gray and black are also strong business suits
  • White shirt: Plain white shirt is always a great optionbut you can spice it up with textured shirts or inconspicuous designs like window pane stripes or gingham print
  • Neckties: Blue, gray, black are standard business colors for ties. Don’t feel limited as there are varying shades of blue and grey and designs such as polka dots, stripes, and paisley are great ways to add more style.
  • Pocket Square: White, straight fold handkerchiefsadds a crisp and classic element to the overall look. Colored pocket squares can work depending on the environment.
  • Oxford shoes: Shoes should be the same color as your belt; brown or black. Again, shades of brown vary so there is still a lot of variety available.
  • Socks: Trouser socks that that matches the pant leg of the suit. It’s the safest bet to stay with solid socks.

2. Business Casual

If you are unsure how to dress for a job in a creative industry or wondering what to wear as a teacher then this may well be what you're looking for.

Business casual is exactly what is implied in the name. It's a casual look made for the professional environment. Just because this look is more comfortable, it’s still supposed to illustrate a high level of professionalism. A traditional business casual look is no suit jacket. It has now evolved to “no suit and no tie required.”

Business casual has been expanded to trousers and anice button up or evenslacks and a polo style shirt. Workplace environment is everything when it comes to professional attire so make sure that your version of business casual is in line with the culture of the office.

Recommendations

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  • Moccasins – Wear with or without socks if the work culture supports it.
  • Loafers
  • Oxford shoes
  • Double Monk Straps
  • Colored buttoned down shirts are acceptable
  • Suits with no tie can be spiced up with a lapel pin and colorfully patterned pocket square.

The key to this look is no neckwear. The collar can be open or the top button can be buttoned up. Either way, there should not be a tie. Also the polo can be worn with the top button fastened as well. It’s personal preference.

If you’re not going to button up the top button, make sure you have magnetic collar stays in the collar of your shirt. This will keep the collar upright and keep the look sharp

3. Casual Attire

As a man of style, the days of the dad jeans and your favorite tee shirt is no longer allowed. Also, sporty doesn’t mean a jersey and gym shorts-although they definitely have their place. There is away to be sporty and still be stylish. Think of it as weekend attire. It’s comfortable, fun, and flexible.

This look can be a pair of well-fitting raw denim jeans, a t-shirt, and some stylish sneakers. Another option would be a henley, khakis, and a pair of boots. It is the undefined look when you don't really know what you are doing for the day but you want to be comfortably sharp.

Recommendations:

  • Chinos: Casual pants that can be dressed up withblazers
  • Polo shirts: These shirts were originally for athletes and are a stylishly comfortable option that can be paired with jeans, chinos, or shorts
  • Shorts: Jean shortsor chino shorts are acceptable.
  • Casual deck sneakers: These are sneakers that are not for competing. They are usually made of canvas material with a rubber sole.
  • Casual t-shirts: Solid colored or patterned t-shirts that can be dressed up with a blazer. They are versatile and comfortable. Do not confuse a casual t-shirt with a screened tee. An example of screened t-shirt is your favorite childhood marvel comic t-shirt.

Formal wear can be broken into three (3) differentcategories: Black Tie, Creative Black Tie, and White Tie. Most guys have no idea that there are threeformal aesthetics, let alone the difference between them.

4. Ultra Casual

Admittedly, this type of look is the simplest to pull off. It's for style and comfort. The Ultra casual look is a spring and summer go-to look as it's for warm weather and functionality. That being said, there is still a way to stylishly pull it off.

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Recommendations:

  • T-shirt:The type of t-shirt is totally depending on your preference. Whether it's a crew neck or v-neck is not as important as the fit and quality of the shirt. Make sure that both are stellar
  • Shorts:Shorts should be funtional and worn above the knee. When shorts are worn below the knee it makes you look shorter (regardless of your height) and disproportionate.
  • Shoe:Sneakers or moccasin/loafer. Wear either shoe with no socks or “no show” socks if your feet sweat. Socks with these kind of shoes are an absolute no-no.
  • Accessories: Watches and bracelets are great additions to this look. They will stand out because of the outfit's simplicity. Both classic and sporty watches will work well and leave a strong, fashionable statement.

Gents, grooming will play a big part in this look as well. There is a lot of skin showing so make sure that you are well lotioned. Shorts and ashy legs are not a good look.

Also read:

  • Ultimate Guide to Wedding Attire For Men
  • Dressing Sharp and Casual for the Men in Their 30s
  • 7 Ways To Build Sexual Tension With Woman Through Text
  • ULTIMATE GUIDE To Men's Hair Types
  • What Is In A Capsule Wardrobe?
  • 9 Skills Every Man Must Master To Be A Success

5.Creative Black Tie

This can be considered the least formal aesthetic in the formal wear category. It's a new school twist on traditional formal wear. It's seenmost often at Hollywood events such as red carpets and award shows.

The creative black tie look has a playful element that intelligently substitutes bold colors on subtle pieces for a bit of pizzazz.

Being that formal wear is a uniform of sorts, the creative black tie fun way for your formal attire to stand out in a crowd. This look is popular amongst millennials who typically defy the traditional conventions of menswear

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Recommendations: The looks almost identical to traditional black tie with colored accessories such as:

  • Vest
  • Cummerbund
  • Bow tie

6.Black Tie Dress Code

Less formal than white tie, but more formal than creative black tie – it is reserved for social functions and evening events. It is less regulated than white tie dress so more latitude for variations is given for this aesthetic.

Black Tie Recommendations:

  • A jacket with ribbed silk facings on a shawl collar or peaked lapel
  • Trousers with a single silk or satin braid covering the outer seams
  • A black cummerbund or a low-cut waistcoat
  • A white dress shirt, French cuffs and cufflinks, and a turn-down or detachable wing collar
  • A black ribbed silk bow tie matching the lapel facings
  • Optional shirt studs and cufflinks
  • Black dress socks
  • Black shoes—highly polished or patent leather Oxfords, or patent leather court shoes

7. White Tie Dress Code

White tie is the most formal style of dress and is usually reserved for high society events such as state dinners, formal balls and evening weddings. It is typically considered only appropriate after 6 p.m., but it has been extended to anytime after dark.

White Tie Recommendations

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  • Black or midnight blue dress coat with silk facings, horizontally cut-away at the front
  • Trousers of matching fabric with one single wide stripe or two narrow stripes of satin or braid and are worn with suspenders
  • White plain stiff-fronted cotton shirt
  • White stiff wing collar, preferably detachable
  • White bow tie
  • White low-cut waistcoat matching the bow tie and shirt
  • Black silk socks or stockings
  • Black court shoes

In Summary

Click Here For A Full Infographic On A Social Guide To Dress Codes For Men

Also read:

  • Ultimate Guide to Wedding Attire For Men
  • Dressing Sharp and Casual for the Men in Their 30s
  • 7 Ways To Build Sexual Tension With Woman Through Text
  • ULTIMATE GUIDE To Men's Hair Types
  • What Is In A Capsule Wardrobe?
  • 9 Skills Every Man Must Master To Be A Success

FAQs

What is the official dress code for male? ›

The traditional formal dress code for men usually falls into two main categories: "black tie" and "black tie optional." "White tie" is the most formal dress and not as common.

What are the different levels of dress code? ›

Classifications are divided into formal wear (full dress), semi-formal wear (half dress), and informal wear (undress). Anything below this level is referred to as casual wear, although sometimes in combinations such as "smart casual" or "business casual" in order to indicate higher expectation than none at all.

What is after 5 attire for a man? ›

Roughly a century ago, cocktail attire distinguished itself as an after-work, pre-dinner dress code amongst upscale social communities. Called “after 5” in some circles initially, the formal-but-not-too-formal attire was expected for pre-dinner drinks and canapes.

What is dressy casual attire for a man? ›

Dressy Casual Attire for Men

Tops: Button-down shirts are the best way to go, either short-sleeved or long-sleeved. Add a blazer or sport coat over a shirt for extra dressiness. 2. Bottoms: Chinos, dress pants, or slacks are all great choices.

What are the 6 types of casual attire? ›

  • Active Casual. (page 12, Casual Power, for detailed photos)
  • Rugged Casual. (page 13, Casual Power, for detailed photos)
  • Sporty Casual. page 14-15, Casual Power, for detailed photos.
  • Smart Casual. (page 16, Casual Power, for illustrations & photos)
  • Dressy Casual. ...
  • Business Casual.

How do you describe dress code on an invitation? ›

These phrases mean that guests are encouraged to wear attire that fits a black tie dress code, but that this is optional. For men, they should wear a dark suit with a shirt and tie (if they don't wish to wear a tuxedo). Women should wear a floor-length gown, knee-length cocktail dress, a pantsuit, or dressy separates.

What is smart casual for men? ›

In general, smart casual means neat chinos or a pair of dark-coloured jeans with a shirt, a blazer, and a pair of leather shoes. Your outfit should be well-fitting but slightly less formal than a business casual or business professional style.

What is classy casual? ›

Dressing classy but casual is all about combining high-quality clothes for a stylish look. You can look classy with clean jeans and a nice, well-fitting top. Or, pair slacks with a dress shirt for a business casual look. During summer, wear shorts with a loose-fitting t-shirt.

What is smart casual dress code? ›

A smart casual dress code is an attire that combines well-fitting, polished business wear with elements of casual attire like blouses, shirts, button-downs, dress pants, dark-wash jeans, and polished, practical footwear.

What are the 4 types of clothes? ›

Casual wear – worn as standard clothing. Formal wear – worn for events such as weddings. Lingerie – under garments worn for support and / or decoration. Sports wear – worn for athletic activites like running.

What is dress code etiquette? ›

Etiquette helps human beings to behave in a socially responsible way. Etiquette helps you gain respect, trust and appreciation from others. There is a huge difference between an individual's college and professional life.

What is semi formal for men? ›

Masculine Semiformal Wear

Masculine semiformal attire could be a conservative dark suit with a dress shirt. A vest that matches the suit is optional. In most cases, a tie should be worn, but in some cases, it isn't necessary. If in doubt, wear a tie.

What is business attire for a man? ›

Business professional for men typically refers to a dark-colored (gray, navy) suit and tie. The tie should be simple, avoiding bright colors or busy patterns. Men should wear a button-down shirt (preferably white or light-blue) and belt. Pair with a professional, closed-toed shoe like an oxford or loafer.

Are jeans appropriate for dressy casual? ›

Sneakers, jeans and T-shirts are all acceptable, and even encouraged. Dressy casual: You should dress up, but only a little. It's often just a matter of wearing nicer shoes, a snazzier top or pants that aren't blue jeans (though denim is fine with the right kind of shirt -- more on that later).

What does dressy casual attire look like? ›

"This is where you're thinking more light colors and casual materials," she says, versus fancier fare like satin and sparkles. You can wear things that are a little more flowy, and even bold prints are acceptable. "That really cute sundress or maxi dress is a great example of dressy casual,” Swann says.

Are chinos Dressy casual? ›

Chinos are dresser than five-pocket twill pants, which look pretty much exactly like jeans except for the material. But! They're not as dressy as dress pants, which usually have a tab waistband closure and are made of wool, or some other fancier material.

What is relaxed casual dress code? ›

A casual dress code is generally considered less formal than business casual. Employees may wear more relaxed, informal clothing but not necessarily what they wear on the street or lounging at home. For example, a casual dress code may let employees wear jeans every day but still discourages sweatpants.

What is comfortable casual attire? ›

Casual comfortable clothing is a set of simple apparel that can be worn outside the office in your free time. Comfortable jeans paired with a basic shirt and sneakers are a classic example of a casual outfit. Clothes of this style also include simple knitted dresses and comfortable trousers.

What is party casual dress code? ›

Khakis, jeans, nice t-shirt, golf/knit shirt, casual front button shirt are all great for the guys. Ladies can wear khakis, colorful pants, jeans, golf/knit shirt, nice tee and so on. Finally, you can wear jeans!! This is usually a laid back, fun, truly casual get together – dress accordingly.

Can you wear a normal suit to a black-tie event? ›

Can you wear a normal suit to a black tie event? As mentioned previously in this article, as long as you follow certain rules, you can wear a normal black suit. Generally it's not recommended, but if you're desperate and can't get a tuxedo in time, then make sure you follow the rest of the important rules.

What should a male guest wear to a wedding? ›

A tux is still a fantastic choice here, but it's a little bit less formal than a black-tie event. It's also the best bet for what men should wear to a wedding with no stated dress code. Tuxedos are optional, but they will expect a full formal suit at the very least.

How should 50 year old men dress casual? ›

Get everything trimmed to fit you. Suits and jackets go without saying, but get your trousers and your shirts nipped and tucked too, even the more casual ones. About the only thing you should be leaving unadjusted at this age are your socks, underwear, and gym/chore clothing. Everything else gets a tailored fit.

Are jeans OK for smart casual? ›

Yes, you can wear jeans

Contrary to popular belief, jeans are absolutely acceptable as smart-causal attire. If in doubt, go for a darker wash and a tailored fit. Add a heel to dress them up and add a white shirt for a classic pairing.

Is T-shirt and jeans smart casual? ›

Here are some key attributes of smart-casual attire: Not too formal: smart-casual combines some formal items, like ties, heels, blouses and jackets, with more casual items, like T-shirts and jeans.

Are jeans business casual for a man? ›

Can you wear jeans for business casual? Yes. A fresh pair of dark, raw denim jeans in a regular or slim cut, worn with a blazer, can be considered business casual.

What is the difference between smart casual and business casual? ›

Smart casual is a less formal extension to business casual. While business casual is used for the office, smart casual is for everything outside of it. You can wear a plain, toned-down t-shirt for smart casual, any shirt that has a print of some sort is more of a casual look, not smart casual.

What is formal casual? ›

It's a balance between elegant and comfortable and typically more formal than a day wedding but more casual than a night celebration. Instead of a floor-length dress, women should opt for a tea-length, knee-length, or midi dress. Men are required to wear a suit and tie, regardless of the wedding's setting.

What is business attire for a male? ›

Business professional for men typically refers to a dark-colored (gray, navy) suit and tie. The tie should be simple, avoiding bright colors or busy patterns. Men should wear a button-down shirt (preferably white or light-blue) and belt. Pair with a professional, closed-toed shoe like an oxford or loafer.

What is the most formal dress code? ›

White tie attire is the most formal dress code and is typically interpreted as floor-length gowns for women and a black jacket or coat with tails and matching pants for men. Uncommon for modern weddings, white tie attire has been around for centuries.

What is dress code policy? ›

A dress code policy outlines how the company expects its employees to dress at work and includes specific guidelines of what the company considers suitable in terms of appearance and work attire.

Is formal the same as black tie? ›

Formal or Black-Tie Optional

The wording here indicates something slightly less formal than black-tie is acceptable. So, a tuxedo isn't required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. The choices are the same as with black-tie: a floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a dressy pantsuit.

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