25 October 13  |  Clubhouse   |  

Golden Ocala’s Comprehensive Guide to Popular Dress Codes

Can I wear jeans to a smart casual event? What does tea length mean? Does a black tie event mean I have to wear a black tie? These are questions many people have about dress codes. With the opening of Raspberry’s on November 8 – and its new smart casual dress code –  as well as many other special events coming up at Golden Ocala, we thought it would be the perfect time to refresh your memory on some of the most popular dress codes.

Smart Casual

When dressing for a smart casual function, think of clean, yet informal attire. It’s a step up from business casual, but not as dressy as formal work attire. It’s important to use good judgement when dressing smart casual because you want to look neat, clean, and well put together.

Smart Casual for Men

Photo Source: Flickr by Lukasz Dunikowski


  • wear a collared shirt. Polos and button down shirts work best. The collar is one of the defining features of “smart” dress.
  • wear designer or dress pants.
  • wear a matching jacket if appropriate.
  • wear dark shoes. Black or brown shoes work best and are easy to coordinate with the rest of your wardrobe. Men can wear nice looking sneakers.
  • wear your normal accessories.


  • mix patterns between your jacket and pants.
  • wear a shirt with slogans or logos.
  • wear jeans. Jeans are not appropriate for most smart casual occasions, but if you choose to wear them, select your most fashionable jeans that fit well and are in good condition. If you really want to wear jeans, designer/dressy jeans will be acceptable.
  • wear a hat.

Smart Casual for Women

Photo Source: Flickr by Lukasz Dunikowski


  • wear a blouse or fashionable top. A sweater or jacket is appropriate in cooler temperatures.
  • wear a dressy skirt or slacks.
  • wear nice shoes. Boots, flats, or heels often work well.
  • wear fashionable accessories that compliment your outfit.


  • wear a t-shirt
  • wear jeans. Jeans are not appropriate for most smart casual occasions, but if you do choose to wear them, select your most fashionable jeans that fit well and are in good condition. Designer/dressy jeans are the most appropriate.

Black Tie

Black Tie is one of the most formal dress codes. For ladies, this usually means long dresses, while gentlemen can think of James Bond as they dress in their black tuxes. If the event invite says “Black Tie Optional”, you can safely wear a nice dinner jacket instead of a tux.

Black Tie for Men

Photo Source: Flickr by Benjamin J. DeLong


  • wear a black tuxedo. While other dark colors are sometimes acceptable, you’re always safe with black.
  • wear a jacket with satin or silk (ribbed) lapels.
  • wear a vest or cummerbund. Black is always safe, but other colors may be appropriate, depending on the occasion. The vest should be low cut and have a full satin back.
  • wear a black silk or satin bow tie, preferably hand tied.
  • wear a white, formal shirt that is cotton, linen, or silk. Shirts designed to be worn with a bow tie have a spread collar. This is the more modern look favored by Hollywood and James Bond. Or alternatively, a stiff winged collar adds formality. Wearing it double cuffed with a long collar is good if you are wearing it with a long tie. However, single cuffed and winged is the only option if worn with a cravat.
  • wear gold or black cuff links.
  • wear pants that are black and formal with a satin, silk, or ribbon seam on the outside leg to match your jacket lapels.
  • wear suspenders if needed.
  • wear black, knee length silk ribbed socks.
  • wear black shoes that lace up. Patent leather should be worn in the evening and non-patent leather during the day.


  • wear pants with turn ups/cuffs or belt loops.
  • wear socks with logos or images.

Black Tie for Women

Photo Source: Flickr by Jason Hargrove


  • wear an evening gown, dressy dinner suit, or long flowing dress. Evening gowns come in various lengths: “tea” length is from mid calf to ankle, “ballerina” is to the ankle, and “full length” is to the floor. Dresses can be chiffon, velvet, satin, or silk.
  • wear formal shoes.
  • show off your best jewelry! Accessories should be elegant, yet tasteful.
  • wear a chesterfield coat, cape, or cloak if weather permits.


Business Casual

Business casual is the most popular form of attire in the professional workplace. You should look sharp, clean, and appropriate for meeting with a client or even the CEO. One of the most important things to remember about this dress code is that when in doubt, keep your attire conservative. Your clothing should flatter your body, but be careful not to show too much skin.

Business Casual for Men

Photo Source: Flickr by Victor1558


  • think about ditching the tie. A tie can be worn, but is often left at home.
  • wear a formal collared shirt with long sleeves. White, light blue, and stripes are popular.
  • make sure your shirt is well pressed.
  • wear nice pants, such as chinos.
  • match your socks to your pants, or a shade darker. Black socks will go with most outfits, but remember to choose mid-calf length and solid colors.
  • wear oxford shoes or loafers.
  • accessorize with a nice watch and wedding ring (if applicable).

Business Casual for Women

Photo Source: Flickr by fervent-adepte-de-la-mode


  • wear a clean, well pressed blouse.
  • pair your blouse with a jacket if appropriate. Jackets are optional.
  • wear a knee-length skirt or dress, or slacks. Black, gray, navy, brown, and khaki are always appropriate.
  • wear formal pumps, closed toe shoes, or low heels.


  • over accessorize. Use your best judgement for your jewelry and accessories. There is more scope for jewelry in a creative role than in a conservative environment.

Country Club Casual

Country club casual dress is a type of clothing style worn inside and outside of a country club. Though the clothing that falls into this category has changed in recent years, there are a few things that remain constant and classy. It requires picking the right clothing and taking a “less is more” sensibility in regards to getting dressed.

Country Club Casual for Men

Photo Source: Flickr by Lukasz Dunikowski


  • wear nicely tailored shirts with crisp sleeves.
  • wear polo shirts, if they are in good condition.
  • consider pressed slacks in a black or khaki color.
  • accessorize with a nice watch and wedding ring (if applicable).
  • wear a belt that matches your shoes.
  • wear loafers or boots. Dark leather works best for both styles and sneakers are acceptable.

Country Club Casual for Women

Photo Source: Flickr by Lukasz Dunikowski


  • wear a nice sweater with tasteful buttons, or select a shirt with feminine details such as pearl buttons or ruffles.
  • keep in mind that the bottom half of the outfit is less important than the top.
  • wear knee-length skirts.
  • wear items that fit appropriately.
  • accessorize with a belt.
  • wear traditional accessories. Consider gold and pearls, such as a pair of pearl earrings or a gold bracelet.
  • wear flats, ballet slippers, or high heels (3-inch heel).



  • wear boot cut or bell bottom fit pants.
  • wear shorts or capri pants. Bermuda length shorts (right above the knee) are acceptable poolside and in more casual restaurants.

Cocktail Attire

In high society, this dress code is considered informal. Typically this attire refers to a respectful standard of dress where items such as lounge suits and cocktail dresses are worn. Depending on the event, this dress code may be similar to smart casual, but if you are unsure, stick to the examples below so that you can portray a sophisticated image.

Cocktail Attire for Men

Photo Source: Flickr by Joseph Nicolia


  • wear a tie. Ties are required.
  • wear a suit jacket. For your suit jacket, dark colors work well for evening occasions and very dark colors work well if the event is more of a “Black Tie Optional” occasion. Dark colors are also most suitable in winter, while lighter colors can be perfect in the summer.
  • match your suit pants to your jacket.
  • wear a formal, pressed collared shirt. White is always the safest color for the shirt and ideally should be french cuffed.
  • button the top button of your dress shirt.
  • match your socks to your suit. Socks should ideally be a dark color at least as dark as your suit. Your socks should come up to at least mid-calf and be solid in color.
  • wear lace up shoes. Black works best, or wear shoes that are a color at least as dark as your socks.

Cocktail Attire for Women

Photo Source: Flickr by Lukasz Dunikowski


  • wear a cocktail dress. Cocktail dresses range in length from just above the knee to about two inches above the ankle (tea length). Popular materials for the dress include silk, satin, and chiffon.
  • wear an evening dress as long as it is not too formal.
  • wear pumps to match your dress, or dressy sandals or flats.
  • wrap a shawl or light sweater around your shoulders if the weather permits.
  • wear a hat for outside summer events and essential for weddings.
  • Compliment your outfit with appropriate jewelry and accessories.

Things to Always Keep in Mind

When in doubt, it is better to overdress, than to under dress. After all, you never want to offend your hostess!

We hope these examples of the most popular dress codes will give you insight into what to wear to your next event or social function. We’ll see you there!