Decoding the dress codes – Semi-formal

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Even though we live in the age of information technology it still happens occasionally, especially among the young and inexperienced, to be confused when it comes to what exactly a certain dress code allows. This is why we have decided to use this series of articles to acquaint you with the different dress codes and their practical meaning.


This is the least formal of all formal dress codes which is why sometimes it can be considered as a double edged sword. It gives more freedom of decision, which comes with a greater probability of mistakes. Most often this dress code is the required attire for weddings, theater plays, company events or evening parties.

For men, the semi-formal dress code is more diverse than any of the other dress codes. You can wear either a tux or a suit in a more unusual color. If you are wearing a tux, then wear a waistcoat in place of the sash worn in black tie. The bow-tie can be in any color. It is permissible that the waistcoat is a different color, but in this case the bow-tie has to be colorful too.

In the boundaries of this dress code gentlemen usually go for the classical suit. A suit in a traditional color is safest – navy blue, gray, indigo or brown. Barely noticeable stripes are also allowed. Of course, the semi-formal code allows suits in more unusual colors, such as burgundy, yet such a choice requires not only boldness but also a talent for color coordination within the bound of the dress code.

There is more freedom in selecting a tie. The tie can either be bright and fashionable or a classic, the same color as the suit. The shirt is most often white. If you want to wear a shirt in a different color you may, as long as it is coordinated with the tone of your suit. Contrasting combinations are not forbidden, but can look ridiculous if they are not tastefully assembled.

The shoes are classic dark, preferably leather.

This dress code is again more permissive for ladies, allowing for a greater diversity. Very popular is the cocktail dress – knee-length and without lush decorations. The fabric however must be quality, not everyday fabric- lace, silk, velvet, atlas, etc. The line must be simple and elegant. A required accessory for such an outfit is a small purse. The shoes must be elegant, while their heel must be appropriate for the event and complementary to the figure.

You must wear thin socks or stockings with no pattern or decoration.

Accessories must be carefully selected and kept to the bare minimum.

For braver and more daring ladies, the semi-formal dress code allows a combination of a chic shirt-blouse in a light color and black, grey or navy trousers or skirt. If you do not feel secure in your ability to make an ensemble which will be in alignment with good manners, then go for the cocktail dress. It is always a winner.


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