17 December 2007

How *I* would decode the dress-code

Using examples from the 2008 Fall/Winter RTW collections of Ralph Lauren, Naeem Khan, Oscar de la Renta, Malandrino, Doo.Ri, Brian Reyes and Bottega Veneta, here below are how I would crack the cryptic dress codes of white-tie, black-tie, semi-formal, cocktail, business casual and casual, respectively.

I don't claim to be an Emily Post, an Alan Flusser or any individual for whom dressing according to a set of prescribed rules is a matter of being 100% right or 100% wrong, but I do believe, having attended quite a few of each of these myself - except for (sad face) white-tie - I've developed a pretty good sense of how to show up to an event neither too formally nor too casually clothed.

Enjoy, and please, feel free to disagree with me this time. Really, it's okay, I won't mind. I'm actually getting a bit tired of how obsequious and agreeable you all are, day after day. I mean, criminy, one of you has to disagree with something I've written.

(floor-length; luxurious fabric; dramatic neckline/back/sleeve; minimal cleavage)
Black-tie (long)
(same as above but more liberties allowed with color/print; no push-up cleavage but tasteful deep-V necks are acceptable)
Black-tie (knee-length)
(make sure to compensate with formal and conservative colors, cuts, embellishments and fabrics; NO cleavage)


(longer hemline and lower neckline (optional) than cocktail) Cocktail

(at or above the knee; color, fabric, neckline and print as "loud" as you're comfortable with) Business-casual

(no suits; conservatively tailored pieces in formal but not too formal fabrics) Casual

(loose-fitting through the hips and legs; casual fabrics)


Anonymous said...

I LOVE the semi-formal dress - DIVINE!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the semi-formal dress is quite breathtaking. Thanks Johanna for this entry. One question - - what the hell is "dressy casual"? I went to a wedding reception (the couple had gotten married on an island and had a dressy casual reception in the States). Is that synonymous with "business casual" or is it something more? I'd never heard of such a code until then because "dressy casual" seems to be a bit of an oxymoron???

Teek said...

Someone did a blog once where she'd gotten an invitation that said, I think, "Festive California Chic". What on earth.

I would interpret dressy casual as probably business casual cuts with more dressy fabric? Brocade tulip skirt, perhaps, for evening, or a silk shirt dress for afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Where is the "long black tie" one from?

Anonymous said...

Who makes the knee-length black-tie dress?

not a fashion queen said...

Love almost all your choices. While the long black tie is appropriate for the venue, it just a bit too "Mother of the Bride" to me. Does this dress have a stunning back plunge or something else to punch it up?

Also, I am stunned you haven't been to a white tie event! In reality most are pretty stuffy and boring. I have been to more than I care to admit during my debutante days.

Anonymous said...

Is there a cheaper (you know a "Since I don't [Have a Sugar Daddy] Yet" version of the Bottega Venetta "casual" dress? My wife would kill for that. But BV's a bit our of our budget. Yikes.

Love the White Tie and Cocktail choices too!


Anonymous said...

Who makes the cocktail dress?? It is absolutely gorgeous!

Johanna said...


white-tie -- Ralph Lauren

black-tie (long) -- Naeem Khan

black-tie (short) -- Oscar de la Renta

semi-formal -- Malandrino Couture

cocktail -- Doo.Ri

business casual -- Brian Reyes

casual -- Bottega Veneta

miss you already!

Kate said...

this is really random, but i've been to alan flusser's nyc shop a few times, and i swear, the man is soooo very nice in person. i just wanted to share what a sweetheart he is, even if he does see appropriate dress in very black and white terms.

love your blog!

crazyladynyc said...

While all dresses are beautiful, I don't understand the Black-tie (knee length) category...I live in Manhattan and in my experience, anything but a floor-length gown would be out of place at a Black-tie event. It is different in DC?

sarahsouth said...

that first one, in white, would be an amazing wedding dress

Anonymous said...

sarahsouth, I totally agree with you, but something tells me that thought would never cross our Editrix's jaded mind...

Anonymous said...

Ok, you asked for a disagreement in the comments, so I'll say this: the casual dress, flowy and hitting at mid-calf. Not flattering on anyone. The neckline is hot though.