'Tis the season to receive holiday cards in your mailbox and invitations to the season’s most sought-after events. What? There’s a dress code? If the definition of the dress code has you flummoxed, think of your host/hostess and try to imagine what setting and vibe they are hoping to achieve at the event. Whether it’s a winter evening wedding or a holiday gala on your schedule this season, here are a few definitions to help you feel confident when choosing your formal occasion attire. Remember, when you look good, you feel good!

White Tie

The most formal of attire. This is your chance to shine. Full-length gowns are a must. Pair them with your best jewels. High slits in the skirt or overt showing of skin is not appropriate. If it is cool in the evening, wear a fur or faux fur. Men don white ties, white shirts with studs and winged collars, black jackets with tails, matching black pants, and high sheen shoes.

Black Tie

Traditional black dinner jacket tuxedos for men, and full-length gowns for women. When choosing a gown, keep in mind that your man will be dressed-up as he ever will be and you should match him. This means, no Hawaiian print muumuus. Choose velvet, lace, satin and silk in rich colors. Do not wear white at the risk of upstaging the bride. (Insider tip: If you do not want to invest in a full-length formal gown, shop at consignment or thrift shops. It will save you a ton of money and you can donate it right back to the thrift shop after the event to save space in your closet. It’s even less expensive than renting the gown.)

Black Tie Optional

This one can be tricky because men may want to wear their regular suit and risk looking underdressed. I recommend tuxedos for men and full-length gown or knee-length cocktail dresses for women. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed at these types of festivities. Do not wear too short a skirt or too plunging a neckline or you will look like you are ready for the nightclub rather than a wedding.

Creative Black Tie

Men, this is your chance to show your family heritage with your best Scottish kilt. Pair it with a short black jacket and bow tie. Ladies, if you are lucky enough to be out with a Scotsman this holiday season, this is your chance to match his creativity with your own plaid taffeta gown with a bit of sheen and a “fascinator” headpiece. Not a fan of kilts? Men can wear a tuxedo jacket made of velvet and pair with a traditional white tuxedo shirt, and black trousers. Ladies, consider a fanciful glittery top and statement skirt with dimensional details such as fabric petals, or shimmery fringe and glitzy statement shoes.

Final Tip

Men have an easier time with “black tie” because the dress code’s name essentially tells them what to wear, a tuxedo. If the man in your life is invited to these types of soirees on a semi-regular basis, purchasing his own custom

fitted tuxedo is less expensive than renting one. He will feel confident and more comfortable in clothing he owns. Confidence in a man is such an attractive feature. With you on his arm in full holiday regalia, he will feel and look like your very own secret agent man.

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