Understanding Men’s Dress Codes For Events

Throughout a man’s life, he is likely to attend numerous events, each with its own unique style and expectations. Many events have a specific men’s dress code, which provides guidance on what attire is appropriate. Regardless of the occasion, it is essential to make a good impression, and understanding these guidelines will ensure that you dress appropriately. Here are some of the most common dress codes that you should be aware of when attending events or gatherings.


Casual clothing is one of the most common dress codes men experience and is worn at morning, daytime, and nighttime events. Birthday parties, weekend brunches, and relaxed get-togethers are all events that may call for a casual men’s dress code. This style offers optimal flexibility, and many men may wear jeans, khakis, button-down shirts, polos, and sneakers. A bomber jacket, sweater, or elevated hoodie is also acceptable on colder days.

Your comfort is one of the top priorities here, but you should always ensure your attire is in good condition to avoid looking unkempt. Unless your invitation states otherwise, casual events don’t have specific color requirements. However, creating a cohesive ensemble that looks balanced throughout is paramount.


Are you planning a date, grabbing dinner with a friend, or attending a slightly elevated party? If so, we recommend following a smart casual dress code. Smart casual attire is often your best option for moments when you want to look relaxed and welcoming without appearing overly dressed up. It’s common during evening events but is acceptable during any time of the day, depending on the time of the event.

Smart casual is a men’s dress code that typically includes a nice polo shirt and dark wash jeans or khakis. Loafers, boots, and sneakers are also all acceptable options for a smart casual look. However, we recommend avoiding anything too dressy, like a sports coat, as it may make you stand out unfavorably.


A men’s business casual dress code exudes casual comfort but looks professional, making you appear competent and trustworthy. Men wear this attire during the daytime or early afternoon in business-related settings, such as offices, client lunches, or on Casual Fridays for companies that regularly require formal attire.

Typical business casual items include dress shirts tucked into slacks, loafers or Chelsea boots, and more. Men don’t have to wear ties with this dress code, and there are no strict rules when it comes to color. However, we recommend avoiding anything too bold or daring as it may be distracting in a professional setting.


Please keep in mind that a men’s business dress code is different from a business casual one. While business casual offers more flexibility, a business dress code includes a tailored shirt, suit or sports jacket, a tie, and dress shoes. Men wear a business dress code during daytime or early evening affairs, like interviews, client meetings, and other professional events where the stakes are high. Oftentimes, dark or neutral colors are preferred, but subtle pops of color in the tie are appropriate.


Semi-formal is similar to a business dress code but is slightly fancier and less corporate. A blazer or suit, dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes are all necessary. However, you can opt for flashier colors, patterns, and details throughout your outfit as long as the specified dress code allows. Men often wear semi-formal attire at evening events, including holiday parties and upscale dinners, but it is also common at daytime events, such as weddings.


Cocktail attire is slightly more formal than semi-formal. Tailored suits, ties, solid-colored shirts, and dress shoes are all expected pieces in a cocktail ensemble. You may see cocktail attire at evening or nighttime events, where dark colors and moody themes take center stage.

Men wear cocktail clothing to weddings, especially those that are more fancy and elegant. However, you may also experience a cocktail dress code at a fundraiser, business event, or cocktail party.


There comes a time in many men’s lives when they attend a special event. Stand-out occasions commonly call for a black-tie men’s dress code. A black tie outfit is a step above business attire, and men should look pristine and elevated throughout the night. Black-tie attire is reserved for evening occasions and seen at weddings, galas, or dinner parties.

A black tuxedo is often preferred when preparing for a men’s black tie dress code.  Men should pair their tuxedo with a black bow tie, white formal shirt, black cummerbund, and black leather shoes. We also recommend investing in a fine pair of cufflinks to express your individuality subtly. However, in some instances, like prom or where an invitation gives explicit approval, pops of color are also acceptable.


One of the most formal dress codes for men appears at a white-tie event. It’s even dressier than a black tie event, and men should wear a black tailcoat jacket with a waistcoat, white dress shirt, matching black trousers, white vest and bowtie, white gloves, and black leather shoes. It, too, is worn at evening events, such as galas and banquets. You must also ensure that your outfit fits impeccably, as white tie events are often significant occasions where many eyes are on you.

White-tie events are rare, and not every man will attend one in their lifetime. Just remember, a traditional tuxedo will not do the trick if you get an invite. We recommend investing in a piece that fits you flawlessly and complements the men’s dress code requirements. That way, you look your absolute best on the big day.


It can be challenging to decide what to wear to certain events. While sometimes it’s obvious, other times it’s not so clear. You don’t want to miss the mark, so it’s a good idea to check your invitation to see if it provides any dress code guidelines before planning your outfit.

If you’re still unsure, we recommend asking the host or a friend who is also attending the event. Alternatively, our team at Paul Simon is also happy to be a resource. Stop by our store, and let us know the details. We’ll be more than happy to offer suggestions and recommendations to help you feel confident and prepared for the occasion.

Men’s Dress Code Essentials
at Paul Simon

If you have an upcoming event and need new clothing, stop by Paul Simon in Charlotte, North Carolina. We have experience helping men find the ideal pieces for any occasion and accommodating countless dress code expectations. Whether you’re searching for versatile pieces or a stand-out tuxedo, our store has it all. Plus, we feature some of the finest brands in the industry. Click the button below to contact us if you have any questions, and we look forward to helping you perfect your look.

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