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Deciphering Party Dress Codes And What To Wear For Each

So you’ve received an invitation to a party… Whether it’s for a chic soiree or a wedding, you’re super pumped until you’re absolutely mystified by the dress code on the invite. What does it all mean? And most importantly, what the heck are you going to wear? Let’s break down some of the most common party dress codes and what to wear for each.

Party tip: If the invite calls for a dress code that is highly creative and isn’t one of the common dress codes you typically see, it’s perfectly OK to ask your party host and/or fellow attendees for clarification or suggestions.

White Tie

The fanciest of them all. Think floor-length gowns, jewels, sequins, the works. Channel your inner Oscar-Red-Carpet Goddess. Super formal is the name of the game here.


Jenny Yoo Aria Illusion Yoke Pleated Tulle Gown, $353.53 CAD, Nordstrom

Black Tie

White Tie’s little sister, black tie is formal but with room for experimentation. Play with a floor-length dress, but there’s room creativity with a high-low skirt or a mini dress with a floor-length sheer tulle or chiffon overlay.


Avalon Sheer Cutout Gown, $623 CAD, BCBG


The dress code that often causes the most confusion of all. Is it formal? Is it not? Floor length gowns are definitely an option but not mandated like white tie would be. Mid-calf length dresses would be totally appropriate here. Just watch the hemline and make sure you don’t go too mini dress with this dress specification. Always best to err on the side of more dressed up than not.


Side Cut Out Midi Dress, $78.70 CAD, ASOS 


The easiest dress code to decipher in my opinion! A small step down from semi-formal, this is where short above-the-knee dresses really shine! If you love a dance-party ready sequinned or fringed number, parties that call for cocktail attire are where such dresses are wildly appropriate.


Fringed Mini Dress, $69.90 CAD, Zara


When I think of garden parties, I instantly think of a soft and romantic pastel colour palette. A short or mid-length skirt or dress works here. Even a sophisticated jumpsuit. A garden party is also the perfect place to rock your fave floral printed frock. Keep in mind that you will be outdoors so tall stilettos will need to be traded in for flat sandals or wedges.


Ruffle Midi Skater Dress, $56.22 CAD, ASOS


Dressing for a beach party or wedding is easy breezy. Go with a cute and short sun dress and don’t forget the sunscreen. In addition to wedges or flat sandals, a hat to shield yourself from the blazing sun is not only appropriate, but likely necessary.


Embroidered Neckline Dress, $49.90 CAD, Zara

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