DRESS DECODED: The correct impression
To help you navigate the coming social season, Refliwe Boikanyo explains dress-code speak
AT WHITE-TIE events, such as ambassadorial dinners, royal weddings and charity or society balls, guests are expected to wear full formal attire. For men there is the unwavering specific of a black tailcoat with matching trousers, a white shirt, white waistcoat and white bowtie. A top hat is optional, but is the only headwear that is acceptable.
"If it's printed on the invitation, men must adhere to this and women can indulge in serious ballgowns," said fashion doyenne Jenny le Roux of local label Habits.
Women should accessorise with their best jewellery, an up-do and subtle make-up.
Not as dressy as white tie, but men are expected to wear a black tuxedo with matching trousers, a formal white shirt, a black shiny satin/silk or twill bow tie, a waistcoat that matches the tie is optional, black shoes and black dress socks.
"Women can wear anything glamorous at any length," said Le Roux.
This includes a formal (floor-length) evening gown, elegant little black dress or cocktail dress.
Many men get confused between black tie and formal. They are very different; black tie insists on a tuxedo but for formal events men can wear a smart dark suit with a traditional tie or bow tie.
CREATIVE BLACK TIE
This dress code allows guests to add whimsical or trendy pieces to their black-tie outfit. For instance, men can add a patterned bow tie, colourful pocket square, dressy suspenders or detailed cufflinks to their suit.
Le Roux said: "Be careful when doing this as men can look silly if they try too hard."
Women can get creative with hair accessories, jewellery and make-up, such as a bold lip colour.
The words festive and fun are often associated with cocktail attire. Men should wear a fitted suit in the season's colours with a button-down shirt. Women should opt for knee-length dresses, evening suit or evening trousers with a smart top. Fashion designer Gert-Johan Coetzee said: "Never overdo it. Have one focal point and make sure the outfit flows from there."
This is all about wearing dressed-up versions of casual looks. For men it can be smart separates like trousers with a blazer. If you choose jeans, the wash should be dark. For women, a smart, shorter length dress or smart pants or skirt with a crisp shirt will do the trick.
Anything goes. But consider the event. If it is a work function, women should not show too much skin and men should avoid sloppy attire like flip-flops. Coetzee said the most important thing is "to wear something that fits" and "posture is always key to looking good".