What do I wear?

Decoding the Suggested Attire jargon

feature imageStandard Business attire for conferences and events is not the norm anymore. Many events suggest Smart Casual or Business Casual but what is the difference? Can I wear jeans, should I be wearing a button-down shirt?

Here is a breakdown of the most common categories:


CasualSome believe this means anything goes … that is not the case, you must consider the environment you will be in. You should still be tasteful and avoid worn out or “inappropriate” clothing.  For women, sundresses, khakis or nice jeans, golf shorts (depending on the occasion and climate), plain t-shirts (no slogans), polo shirts or casual button down blouses are suggested.  It is recommended that men wear khakis, nice jeans, Bermuda or golf shorts if appropriate for the occasion or climate, plain t-shirts, polo shirt or casual button down shirt.

bus casualSmart Casual:

This is also referred to as dressy casual or evening casual.  It is basically a dressed up version of Casual.  The rule of thumb is to avoid shorts, jeans and t-shirts with this look.

Business Casual:

This is sometimes a difficult style to interpret.  It can mean different attire in different industries.  Always consider the host that has suggested the style.  Generally speaking, women should wear a dress or tailored dress pants with a blouse or button down shirt. For men a sport coat is recommended with slacks or khakis.  Dress shirt, casual button down shirt or polo shirt can be worn.

Business Attire

businessThis can also be referred to as Business Formal.  This is probably the easiest look to interpret.  A dark coloured business suit with dress shirt and tie for men, a vest is optional.  For women, a suit with blouse, a business style dress or a dress with a jacket should be worn.


Cocktail Attire:

Sometimes referred to as “cocktail chic”, this looks means you should be well dressed but therelittle black dress is some wiggle room.  Both men and women generally would wear darker colours.  Men should wear dark suits, with dress pants and dress shirt, tie is optional. Women, this is where you could pull out your “little black cocktail dress” or perhaps a pantsuit or dress pants with a nice blouse or sweater.

Semi Formal:

This is just a step below “Black Tie Optional”. Cocktail dresses or a long dressy skirt and top for women are suggested.  It is suggested that men wear a dark business suit, dress shirt and tie.

Black Tie Optional:

Take your semi formal look and step it up a notch, cocktail dresses should be more dressy or consider a long evening gown.  Men should wear a black suit, white dress shirt and a conservative tie or bowtie or maybe opt for a tuxedo.

Black Tie:

black tieWhile not used as often, this dress code is quite defined.  Tuxedos are standard for men with formal white shirts and cuff links.  Black bow ties are traditionally worn with either a cummerbund or a vest.  For women, formal is the keyword, floor length evening gowns, dressy cocktail dresses are required.

Keep in mind this is a general guide, it is always best to check with your host if you require further clarification.  You may also consult your Human Resource department for the definitions as they apply to your workplace.

Trying to decide on the appropriate dress code for your next conference or event, contact Dragonfly Meeting Solutions Inc. we would be happy to offer our experienced suggestions.

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