Fashion For Real Women

Attire Guide for Women

What attire should you wear for different occasions? It depends on the time and place. Here's a primer for the different types of proper attire required for various situations.


Time:  If a function is before 5 pm, day wear is worn. If it's after 5 pm, evening wear is appropriate.

Place:  Large cities tend to be more formal than small towns. Museums, theaters, and hotel venues tend to be more formal than homes, restaurants, and bars.

Evening, Party, and Formal Attire

Black Tie Attire refers to formal attire and is often worn to award banquets, opening nights, galas, and very formal evening weddings. Men wear a tuxedo with a black tie, women wear a long dress, skirt, or evening pants.

Club Attire refers to comfortable but trendy clothes that are worn to dance, drink, and be seen in clubs. Opt for short dresses or skirts--or comforable trousers or shorts--that allow you to move on the dance floor.  Keep in mind that you'll get hot fast dancing in a crowded room, so layer accordingly.

Black Tie
Black Tie Attire

Cocktail Attire is appropriate for cocktail parties, dinner at a five star restaurant, and non-opening night performances of the opera, ballet, symphony, or theatre. A short dress with sparkles, ruffles, off the shoulder, or an exposed back works nicely, as would a festive top and simple pants.

Dress Attire is another word for formal attire.  See black tie.

Evening Attire refers to either cocktail, black tie, or white tie, depending on the occasion.  See those definitions for details.

Formal Attire generally means black tie.  If it's white tie, "White Tie" is usually specified.

Party Attire could mean casual, cocktail, or black tie, depending on the venue.  Generally, the less formal the location where the event is held, the less formal the attire.  Double-check with your hostess to be sure.

Semi Formal Attire means dressier than casual, but not as formal as black tie.  Generally, a day dress or social suit is appropriate before 5 pm; a cocktail dress for her and a dark suit for him after 5 pm.

White Tie means ultra-formal.  A black tux with white vest and white tie for him; a long dress, often with long gloves and upswept hair for her.  This is the most formal attire, and nothing but "the best" will do.

Professional, Business, and Interview Attire

Business Attire refers to clothes that are worn to conduct business.  Traditionally, this meant a formal business suit, but that's not always the case anymore.  See the new, updated dress code rules.

Business Casual Attire generally means a more casual variation of the traditional business suit, namely mis-matched suiting separates with a casual top.

Interview Attire generally refers to the traditional business suit for job interviews.

Business Casual
Business Casual

Office Attire means clothing that is appropriate for business.  This could be the traditional business suit, depending on the industry, or a more relaxed business casual approach.  (This business attire resource can help you determine what's appropriate.)

Professional Attire refers to business attire.  Please see that definition.

Traditional Attire usually refers to traditional business attire.  Again, please refer to that definition.

Wedding and Bridal Attire

Bridal Attire refers to clothes worn by the bridal party including the bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and mothers of the bride and groom.  Generally, the bridal party are the most formally dressed people at the wedding.

Wedding Attire means clothing that is appropriate to attend a wedding.  This is entirely dependent on the time and location of the wedding.  For example, a morning wedding on the beach would be much less formal than an evening wedding at a cathedral.  Here are some wedding guest guidelines. 

Wedding Attire
Appropriate After 5
Wedding Attire


Casual, Travel, and Fashion Attire

Casual Attire means modest informal wear, like pants or a skirt with a collared top.  This is typically what is called for at an upscale golf club.  It does not mean a sloppy t-shirt, jeans, shorts, midriff tops, etc. 

Fashion Attire means fashionable, trendy attire.  Wear this when you're going to a fashion-related event with fashion-conscious friends.  Do NOT confuse fashion with appropriate business attire.

Travel Attire refers to clothes that are comfortable to travel in, pack easily, and are easily laundered.  Ideally, pieces should mix and match with other items you bring so you can bring less yet still have plenty of options.

Travel Attire
Travel Attire

Knowing what's appropriate attire for various occasions can be confusing, but with a little thought, planning, and research, you should be able to go anywhere you want appropriately dressed.

Need more help deciding what attire to wear when?  These resources can help:

Business Attire Dress Codes
Business Wear Magic
Learn what business attire
to wear for your industry
to skyrocket your career

Proper attire explained in detail
Occasion Magic
Learn the dress code for
every situation and impress
all with your fashion savvy

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