Decoding The Dress Code

The invites for Windsor Castle have a strict code ‘Dress: uniform, morning coat or lounge suit / day dress with hat’ but what do those options actually mean?

Heavily decorated and in the military? Polish those medals and you’re good to go.

Standard for most formal British weddings. Morning coats with tails are always a dapper option for gents.

Don’t get too comfortable, lounge does not mean casual, but dark business suit according to the authority on etiquette, Debrett’s. A full cashmere tracksuit or god forbid, a velour Juicy Couture number would have her Majesty banishing you from the Palace.

If you don’t have a hat, you are not getting in. Go big or go home, fascinators need not apply. I’d take inspiration from Princess Eugenie and Beatrice, as they’ve proved at previous occasions, they have a keen eye for striking design.

And for all your non-royal invites…

Perhaps the most popular dress code for formal events in the social calendar. For men, a tuxedo, complete with bow tie. For women, it is slightly more vague. A full-length dress is normally preferred over a short cocktail dress although generally speaking any respectable, formal dress will do in these modern times. And we are all for the tailored jumpsuit option à la Bianca Jagger.

Cocktail dresses are usually more vivid in colour and have a more ‘interesting’ design for the ladies, and gents are stuck with a dark suit and tie again. There are some jazzy ties out there…

When the Ambassador invites you to a reception this means full evening dress. The most formal evening dress code with women expected to wear a floor length dress and gloves for shaking hands and dancing only removed for eating, and Tiaras (yes, really) are only acceptable for married women. After all that effort let’s hope you get a chance to exclaim ‘Ambassador, with these Rocher you are really spoiling us!’

Arguably most common for formal day time events, such as conferences. These occasions are often more work than social and therefore you are representing yourself and your business. Suit and tie is normal for men, and for women, a tailored dress, skirt or trousers and blazer are perfect.

For a more relaxed event, some organisers will opt for a business casual dress code. For ladies no jeans or trainers – simple as, or if you must, balance out denim with a tailored jacket. For males this could be trousers and collared shirt, but you can leave your tie at home (saves you from tying it on your head later if there are too many complimentary beverages).

This is not what it says on the tin, unless of course your fancy dress is mimicking Little Bo Peep or Marie Antoinette. Fancy dress can always be amusing. However, if you have to hire something we advise you learn from Prince Harry’s mistakes and avoid the Nazi uniform and ALWAYS opt for the head of the panto horse.