It's that time of the year. The time when all of the Christmas function invites start rolling in. It's also wedding season! So what do you do when you receive an invite with a dress code you don't understand? Dread.

We decode the most common dress codes for you below, with examples! Just click the dress code title and it will take you to a dress code appropriate collection of garments and accessories to create your perfect outfit, within the dress code you have been set. And then all you have to do is arrive with confidence, knowing you have nailed the brief!

Don't forget we are always here if you need help.

Smart casual

Smart casual is a slightly more refined version of your best weekend outfit. Jeans are definitely appropriate with a great tee or blouse and a blazer. Cute sundresses and wedges are also appropriate.

Shorter hems are OK as long as they're not too revealing and appropriately accessorised to meet the brief.

Business casual

Business casual is a notch up from smart casual and denim is usually a risky choice.

Dresses, skirts and pants are all appropriate, with heels or flats. T-shirts are actually appropriate as long as the rest of your outfit is extremely polished.

Think, work outfit slightly funked up with fashion. For example a pant suit with a funky t shirt and heels. With work appropriate dresses you can dress them down with flats and less accessories.

Hemlines are work appropriate.

After 5

After 5pm dress code sits between business casual and cocktail. T shirts are not appropriate. This is refined business but not quite cocktail. Hemlines are work appropriate. Outfits are not too revealing - remember this is not cocktail where you can start to let loose with the power of your outfit. This is very much still a business dress code.


This dress code starts to move away from the refined workwear look to a slightly more outside of work look. If it is a company event you would still want to exercise a degree of professionalism. If it is not a company event you can start to play with necklines - sweetheart, off shoulder, one shoulder, strapless are all appropriate as long as the hemline of the dress is appropriate (knee or below knee). Mini is only appropriate if the rest of the outfit is respectful and sophisticated and appropriately accessorised. The new Acler Laurel Dress is a perfect example of mini acceptable at a cocktail event.


This is the dressiest dress code and hemline is important. You are looking for floor length, mid calf or just below the knee (but only if the rest of the dress is spectacular - otherwise you will look like cocktail at a formal event). Sweetheart, off shoulder, strapless and one shoulder necklines are all appropriate and the sky is the limit with accessories - the flashier the better.