Style & Fashion

Cheat Sheet: The Fashion Novice’s Easy Guide to Dress Codes

Cheat Sheet: The Fashion Novice’s Easy Guide to Dress Codes


Have you ever found yourself clueless about what to wear to a specific event? One invite says smart casual, while the other one says black tie. Which is which? Chalk breaks it down for you!


Smart Casual

Dos: This is your chance to put a more put-together touch to your otherwise daily, casual outfit. Think a collared top with dressy bottoms or a day dress with soft outerwear accessorized with jewelry. The key is to look smart; hence, the affix. 

Don’ts: No slip-ons, sneakers, flip flops, cotton tees, hoodies, sweat pants, or anything that looks like you didn’t exert any effort.

Where to Wear: Smart casual is usually required at company events, intimate parties (such as baby or bridal showers), family reunions, theater plays, and art exhibits. Some cocktail parties can go smart casual, too.



Dos: While this is often associated with corporate attire, it doesn’t have to mean your #ootds should be boring. Just make sure you look proper enough for the workplace with blazers, collared button-down shirts, and tailored skirts or pants. Get creative by layering your basics. Experiment with color. It’s all about how you put pieces together!

Don’ts: T-shirts, jeans, summer dresses, sneakers, slippers, sportswear, or anything too casual. Events that require this dress code usually mean business, as the name suggests, so you want to look as professional as possible.

Where To Wear: Your school’s career seminars, office workshops, official work trips, brand conventions, career expos, and networking events.



Dos: This is your chance to get dressed up and dolled up! Guests can get creative with their look because there’s no cookie-cutter outfit for this dress code. However, you’d want to stick to an ensemble that’s suitable for the occasion. Cocktail dresses, statement jewelry, high heels, embellished clutches, and dressy jackets or blazers fall under this category.

Don’ts: No long gowns yet, as that falls under a different dress code. To be sure, avoid flats of any sort as they give off a more casual vibe. No big tote bags, jeans, t-shirts, polo shirts, or casual day dresses. If in doubt, a classic LBD fits the bill quite perfectly!

Where to Wear: Cocktail parties, debuts, fashion shows, or night clubs and bars usually require this dress code.


Black Tie

Dos: Now, this is the time to get fancy with your #ootd. For formal events, you have to wear either a floor-length gown or a fancy short dress. Bust out the jewels, clutches, embellished shoes, and complete hair and makeup to create a look that’s suitable for a special evening out. Expect to be surrounded by fellow guests in evening gowns and tuxedos, so you don’t want to be underdressed. 

Don’ts: Simple cocktail dresses, sexy mini-dresses, or business attires that look very out of place. This is the time to exert major effort on your look, so go all out!

Where to Wear: Weddings, proms, some debuts, gala nights, and awards nights look oh-so-glamorous because everyone is dressed to the nines!


ALSO READ: Style Spotlight: Julia Barretto’s Shining Moment as Muse at MB X LM Fashion + Art Gala


Original article from Chalk's July 2015 issue, written by Kate Paras, illustrations by Paolo Salgado. Check out more exciting stories in the CHALK December 2015-January 2016 issue, now out in major bookstores. CHALK is available in bookstores and on newsstands for P100. Download the CHALK Magazine app for access to all digital editions on your tablet or smartphone, available in Zinio, and Buqo Digital Newsstands. Like CHALK on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@ChalkMagazine).




The Writer

View All

Recommended from Other ABS-CBN Websites