Dress codes are a blessing and a curse. By setting the sartorial tone, they can save you the trouble of relentlessly messaging other guests to disclose their outfit choices (and avoiding a barrage of panicked texts which leave you none the wiser). But if you’re unsure what meets the standard for a black-tie affair, or the ambiguous nature of the cocktail dress is causing confusion, these formalities can trigger more stress than last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve.
To keep outfit planning fun and carefree ahead of the holidays, we’ve unpacked the dress codes you’re most likely to encounter this season, from dress-down casual to elevated eveningwear. Discover everything you need to know to be the star of the show, along with a few of our best party looks from Reluxe.
If the invitation calls for a cocktail dress, breathe a sigh of relief, as this catch-all code is one of the easiest to fulfil. Technically, a cocktail dress is anything between a simple party look and an evening gown.
With the fashion press dominated by micro mini skirts since Miu Miu’s Fall 2022 collection, dare to go shorter with Marchesa’s bow-wrapped puffball design. The LBD is a party staple for good reason, and Simone Rocha's tinsel iteration boasts that obligatory touch of sparkle. But if you want colour, indulge in this season’s hottest shade with Dolce & Gabbana’s candy pink bustier dress.
From charity galas to high-glamour dinners, black-tie demands a level of formality that can even intimidate seasoned party-goers.
Red was a common sighting on the fall runways and exudes the luxury opulence befitting the occasion. With its full skirt and off-shoulder sweetheart neckline, this carmine red gown by occasionwear brand Self-Portrait ticks every festive box for a spectacular soirée. Finish the look with a pair of glittery barely-there heels and a coveted mini bag, like this metallic Louis Vuitton clutch.
Treading the fine line between smart and casual takes more planning than first anticipated, but the secret is building a layered look composed of simple yet elegant foundational pieces.
The nineties revival shows no signs of waning, inspiring brands from Prada to Bottega Veneta to go back to basics with tank tops, camisoles, and slips - the skimpier the better. Dolce & Gabbana’s delicate cami sits perfectly under an oversized structured blazer, but if you’re looking for the real deal, Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania vintage pieces are emblematic of the era.