How to Decode the Dress Code

What to wear dress code help christmas party look book

Hey Owlets,

Today I’m coming back to you with another festive fashion post - this time I want to talk about dress codes. I feel like the phrase “dress code” strikes fear into a lot of girls’ hearts because they’re so ambiguous. Before now I know I’ve had an absolute meltdown over “smart casual” and gone on an emergency dash to the shops, but luckily cruise lines give you a little insight into how they want you to dress for an occasion, which has helped me learn what they mean, and now I’m here to help you decode them too.


What to wear dress code help christmas party look book Casual

Let’s start with casual - if I’m honest this is the one that I struggle with most because to me unless I’m sick or massively sleep deprived, every day is an occasion in my book. Casual is pretty much an open invitation to wear whatever you’d like so jeans and trainers is absolutely fine, as are casual day dresses. If you’d wear it to run to the shops then it’s a pretty safe bet to wear it to whatever casual event you’re going to. I’m not great at casual, but for me I’d wear something along the lines of blue jeans, trainers or ankle boots, plus whatever top I’m loving at the time and a coat if I need it.

Smart Casual

What to wear dress code help christmas party look book smart casual

Despite what my face says in this photo, I absolute detest smart casual - it’s the most vague dress code and I usually end up feeling either over or underdressed. For me, smart casual is the kind of thing you could acceptably wear in an office, or what you might wear for dinner at a chain restaurant. For me this would be a smart top, rather than just a t-shirt, with black jeans and ankle boots or pumps, or a short dress that’s not super revealing. Personally I wouldn’t wear heels if the dress code is smart casual but you absolutely could if you wanted to.


What to wear dress code help christmas party look book festive

Is festive even a dress code? I’ve seen it a few times and I’m always confused why it exists. It’s basically cocktail attire but add glitter and sequins. I do like this dress code because it’s more creative and it encourages you to have fun with your outfit, but at the same time it really frustrates me. I just want to know whether to wear a dress or not! For this dress code I would go on the kind of event it is - if it’s an organised Christmas party I’d wear something like a cocktail dress, jumpsuit or trouser suit and try to add a little glitter, even if it’s just through your accessories. However, if it’s on an afternoon being held at the local pub then pull out your best tacky Christmas jumper and head out. If it’s in your office, maybe go for trousers with a top that has a little sparkle, or a trouser suit and swap your normal blazer for something with a  bit of sparkle.


What to wear dress code help christmas party look book formal

Formal is probably one of my favourite dress codes but it can still be a little vague, and weirdly it is different to black tie. Again, for me it would depend on the kind of event, but I’d go for something along the lines of a cocktail dress and heels. For this one I would probably hang up the jumpsuit as that does feel a little more casual, but classic shapes and a little sparkle is perfect for this dress code. In my mind, going for a midi-length dress allows me to look dressed up without feeling over the top and keeps that line between dressing up but not going all out.

Black tie 

What to wear dress code help christmas party look book black tie

I feel like this is the one that everyone fears because you never want to look too overdone or too casual, but in my mind this is probably the easiest dress code to follow. Black tie is one step above formal, so if the invite says black tie, it’s time to go all out. For this I would wear a floor length dress and heels because it really is the time to shine. However, if you’re not comfortable dressing up, opt for a long dress that goes straight down, because without the body it’ll feel more casual. You could also wear a cocktail dress to a black tie event, but you may feel a little underdressed as most people will read the dress code and go all out.

What to wear dress code help christmas party look book

Hopefully this has helped you if you’ve been staring at your party invitation and panicking - I’ve tried to cover all of the dress codes that I see on a regular basis but if I’ve missed some more ambiguous options then let me know and I might make a part two. 

Which dress code do you dread most?

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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