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Dress Code Guide

Our Total Guide to Dress Codes for Any Event Or Occasion

Have you ever received an invitation only to be stumped by the dress code? At some point, we all have questions about how we should dress for the occasion. With so many events happening throughout the year, deciding what to wear isn’t always easy. However, dress codes can provide us with a good starting point.

Whether you need a casual outfit for the airport, a formal wedding outfit or a graduation outfit, our guide will help you find what to wear – no matter where you’re headed!

What is Casual Wear?

Casual wear is the least restrictive dress code. This gives you a wide range of comfortable clothing options to choose from. If you’re looking to dress for a backyard barbecue or a trip to the beach, we have all the apparel needed to merge your fashion sense with comfortable apparel.

Women’s Casual Attire

You’ll find everything you need for weekend fun and relaxation in our collection of women’s weekend wear. You can put together a look with relaxed pieces like oversized tees, cozy sweatshirts and leggings. For chill days at the park or a quick trip around town, throw on a super soft tank with a pair of jeans and sneakers. Alternatively, a casual dress is a great one-piece outfit you can slip on with a pair of women’s sandals. Planning to stay in? Stay cozy on lazy days in a pair of soft joggers or lounge pants and a hoodie.

Men’s Casual Attire

Looking to elevate your everyday wardrobe? Try upgrading your easy-going style with men’s casual clothing for every season. During the spring and summertime, a solid T-shirt always provides a classic look. But if you want to make more of a visual statement, then graphic tees or patterned tops are a great choice. T-shirts are easy to layer on with a jacket if there is a bit of a chill in the air. You can slip into a pair of jeans or cargo shorts and men’s sandals made for chill summer days.

Prefer a more sporty look? You can’t go wrong with a pullover hoodie, sneakers and sweatpants combo. Athletic wear will take you from lounging around at home to getting in a good workout at the gym. When it’s time to dress for the fall and winter seasons, a crewneck sweater worn with dark wash jeans and men’s boots will keep you cozy and stylish.

What is Business Casual?

Looking to build a meeting-ready look? Often considered the standard dress code for offices and work from home setups, casual business attire is considered to be the middle ground between formal and casual attire. The great thing about casual wear is that it’s easy to pull off this look with an assortment of relaxed, fashion-forward pieces. That said, let’s take a look at a few ways to incorporate business casual pieces into your wardrobe.

Women’s Business Casual Attire

Pants are often the first option for women in the workplace. Basic neutral colors work especially well since you can pair them with a variety of colored tops. Whether you choose to wear dress pants or denim jeans, it’s important that you remain comfortable in whatever you wear. You can wear your bottoms with a nice blouse and blazer or a sweater if you’re in a chilly area. 

While pants might be your go-to business casual attire, don’t forget about skirts and dresses. Consider a skirt in your favorite color. If you choose to wear a dress, a nice cardigan or blazer will keep you warm and stylish when the weather is a bit chilly. When it comes to office footwear, closed-toe shoes are preferred for formal business environments, but flats and heels are appropriate alternatives. You can also add a bit of flair with statement necklaces and earrings.

Men’s Business Casual Attire

This style of men’s apparel is one that is less formal, yet still has elements of a well-crafted outfit perfect for important meetings and other in-office tasks. This dress code typically consists of button-down shirts, polos, khaki pants, smart-casual boots or dress shoes, and maybe even a sports coat or blazer to finish off the look.

When it comes to footwear, loafers and oxfords are good business casual shoe choices. Black is a classic color that works well with a variety of outfits. But you can also introduce more color to your looks with brown or tan shoes. While men’s business casual outfits are typically designed for office wear, they’re also great options for special nights out with a loved one, holidays with family and get-togethers with friends.

What is Dressy/Smart Casual?

Dressing up is more than just an opportunity to look your best. It’s also a chance for you to show off your personal style in an outfit that you love. A dressy casual dress code is a versatile balance between formal and casual wear. If you’re headed to a fundraiser or getting dinner at a nice restaurant, this is the perfect time to break out trendy pieces such as jumpsuits, blazers and modish footwear.

Women’s Dressy/Smart Casual Attire

Also known as casual chic, this form of attire lets you show off your unique style. Think of clothing that’s slightly more dressed up than your most casual piece. If you’re headed out to brunch with the girls, opt for a nice pair of jeans, a white tee and a blazer worn with heels. A pencil skirt, blouse and a cute jacket in a pop color is always a great option. And of course, don’t forget the accessories. Try complementing your outfit with a lovely handbag or clutch purse. You can choose a color that gives you stand-out style. Or, consider matching your accessories with your shoes.

Men’s Dressy/Smart Casual Attire

If you’re dressing up for casual weekend drinks or a relaxed dinner, all you need is an outfit that’s simple yet sleek. This is an opportunity to pair denim jeans with a nice sport coat or blazer. Try wearing your blue or black jeans with a T-shirt or polo shirt and dress shoes. Alternatively, swap out the sport coat for a leather jacket, black pants and a pair of white sneakers for a more laid-back appearance.

What is Business Professional Wear?

Business attire is generally worn in a professional setting, important meetings and other formal work environments. However, you can also consider professional wear for work events and formal occasions outside of the workplace. The idea behind this dress code is to wear something that is essentially a dressed-up version of your best office wear.

Women’s Business Professional Attire

Generally speaking, suits are a popular type of business formal attire. For women, they consist of a stylish blazer and either a pair of matching pants or a skirt. A button-down shirt is suitable for most formal occasions. Try coordinating the color of the shirt with your suit. Opt for neutral tones, like black, white or blue. You can also consider wearing a formal dress such as a sheath dress or a fit and flare dress. Sheath dresses are straight cut, fitted dresses typically nipped at the waistline. Conversely, fit and flare dresses are snug at the waist and then flare out into a fuller style. Women’s career dresses are made to be versatile, so you can wear this dress from day to night by switching accessories and shoes.

If you’re searching for shoes to wear with formal business attire, women’s pumps are the way to go. Not only are they comfortable to wear but stylish as well. Closed-toe shoes are often worn in formal business environments, so flats and heels are suitable options. To complete your outfit, consider wearing chic jewelry and carrying a beautiful handbag to fit any necessary documents.

Men’s Business Professional Attire

When it comes to men’s business attire, a 3-piece suit and a tie may not be necessary. Consider a 2-piece suit in a neutral color. A white button-up shirt is a safe option for wearing with your suit. And while you may want to wear dress shoes with professional clothing, you do not have to stick to black shoes if you don’t want to. You have the option of venturing out to different shades of brown and tan as well. Additionally, you have the choice of wearing printed or solid color socks

What is Black Tie Attire?

Formal black tie and black tie optional events are among the fanciest of all dress codes. Black tie is commonly used for formal evening events such as weddings, formal dinners and galas. Here are a few ways to dress for the occasion.

Women’s Black Tie Attire

While cocktail dresses can be an appropriate option for black tie events, long dresses tend to be a more elevated choice. An elegant jumpsuit is another great option. Discover long evening dresses in colorful patterns as well as more subtle colors. For something stunning and elegant, try a black maxi dress with lovely embellishments. Would you like a dress that shimmers and shines? A gorgeous evening gown is a great choice. No matter what style you’re looking for, you’ll find everything from draped silhouettes to sleek styles.

Don’t forget about footwear and accessories to dress up your outfit. A pair of black heels are a versatile choice that works well with any dress that you’re wearing. If you’re attending an event during the summertime, you can choose heeled sandals with laces and straps instead. You may also want to wear elegant jewelry and a small clutch to carry personal items. Accessorize with gold, silver or rose gold jewelry, or coordinate a pop of color with your dressy shoes and handbag.

Men’s Black Tie Attire

When it comes to men’s black-tie attire, a tuxedo or black suit is a popular option. Alternatively, a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo trousers are ideal during spring and summer times. When looking to construct a formal outfit that’s ideal for evening wear to a special occasion or event, adding a black tie is sure to do the trick.

A black tie is a staple in a man’s formal wardrobe and works well when paired with a white dress shirt, a black or charcoal suit and black dress shoes. This is a look that is not only formal but is very versatile and works when attending almost any formal function.

Find essential shoes, apparel, and accessories for any season or occasion at Kohl’s!