Dress code

A dress code is a set of rules regarding the clothing to be worn in private, social, cultural and business environments.

Expressly required dress codes
Nowadays, mandatory dress codes are generally only applicable for events or at work. Where events are concerned, dress codes are designed to create a special, usually festive atmosphere and to ensure that invited guests do not experience the embarrassment of appearing wearing ‘wrong and inappropriate attire’. For this reason, invitations sent out by Airbus usually indicate the desired type of attire.

 Employers may put regulations in place that require employees to dress in a certain way that reflects the company’s desired image, corporate culture or corporate identity

Below you will find an overview of commonly used, internationally recognised and clearly defined terms for dress codes, as well as a list of other terms to do with this subject. Details for each dress code can be found in the respective articles (each named after the respective dress code).

It goes without saying that any dress code for work is always aligned to the respective company or business where you are employed. Nowadays, there are no clear boundaries and no longer any stringent rules. However, when choosing your clothing, it can still be helpful to at least paint a picture in your head of the event in question; that way, you can avoid being noticed for the wrong reasons. And this also applies to events in a private setting.

 

Why are dress codes and other purportedly obsolete rules and guidelines still important in today’s modern world? (Below are a few quotes to reflect on):

“Manieren sind Ausdruck von Moral” (Manners are an expression of morality)
Asfa-Wossen Asserate (Ethiopian-German corporate consultant, best-selling author and political analyst, great-nephew of the last Emperor of Ethiopia and author of the best seller ‘Manieren’ (Manners).

“Too much has already become commonplace: shitstorms, coarse and shameless language, insults, lies, a total lack of restraint in judging others. The fundamental principles of human decency are in question. Then again, what exactly is decency?”
Axel Hacke (German journalist and author)

“The World was my oyster but I used the wrong fork”
Oscar Wilde (Irish author who studied in Dublin and Oxford before moving to London).

“Those who do not have good manners and morals cannot find inner stability. Anyone who does not know the value of words will never understand men.”
Confucius (Chinese philosopher)

 

Pro Tip: If you are unsure, we recommend asking the host for clarification – a gesture that would certainly be seen as a sign that you attach particular importance to the event. Once this matter has been clarified, please adhere to what was stated!

An overview of commonly used, internationally recognised and defined terms for dress codes (in ascending order of formality)

  • ‘Private casual’ (private events or events of a private nature)
  • ‘Smart casual’ (an elegant type of ‘private casual’, equivalent to ‘business casual’)
  • ‘Business suit’ (also referred to as business attire or conservative-coloured suit)
  • ‘Dark suit’ (lounge suit)
  • ‘Cutaway / morning dress’ (highly official daywear)
  • ‘Dinner jacket’ (highly official evening wear = black tie)
  • ‘Tailcoat’

‘Black tie’ dinner jacket (in contrast to white tie, or full evening dress)

This dress code is often required as formal evening attire for occasions such as Gala evenings (dinner), Award ceremonies, Tributes, Weddings, etc.

As with all other dress codes, it should be specified on the invitation. If you are unsure, we recommend asking the host for clarification – this will certainly be seen as a sign that you attach particular importance to the event.

 

Menswear

  • Black or midnight blue dinner jacket: single or double-breasted jacket (without a back vent) with silk (satin) shawl collar
  • Black (or midnight blue) cuffless trousers (but please always be consistent with colours, i.e. black jacket with black trousers, midnight blue jacket with midnight blue trousers!) with a simple silk striped (galloons),
  • White (or ecru) dress shirt with French cuffs and turn-down collar or wing collar, either fly front or with buttons (traditional) and cufflinks
  • Black bow tie (a white one is worn only with white tie / full evening dress) or black tie (this is modern – always ask the host if you are unsure, otherwise stick with a bow tie!)
  • A black satin cummerbund around the waist, or a low-cut, single or double-breasted black (or midnight blue) waistcoat (gilet).
  • No waistcoat or cummerbund should be worn with a double-breasted jacket, as the jacket is always buttoned up.
  • Pocket handkerchief (also known as a ‘pochette’) (where possible, please wear one with a single colour or a very discreet pattern.)
  • Black patent leather shoes, or lace-ups that are either polished to a high gloss or have patent leather shafts (if you wish to wear blue, please select a very dark midnight blue!).
  • Pocketwatch (a wristwatch isn’t always desirable)
  • Medals: the rule is that full-size medals are only worn with tailcoats or full dress uniform and evening gowns but never with black tie or short dresses (even though this rule is not always followed in Germany). It might therefore be better to avoid wearing full-size medals.
  • Alternatively, you can also wear a white or ivory dinner jacket when in southern countries, at sea or at open-air events. All other accessories should then be selected in the same manner as when wearing black or midnight blue. If you are unsure, we recommend asking the host for clarification!

 

Ladieswear

Very elegant ladies’ versions of the dinner jacket are also available; however, these are not necessarily accepted as items of ladieswear for most social occasions, except in the fashion or media industry (or similar industries).  

  • Ladies therefore tend to wear:
  • A festive evening dress, either in the form of a short cocktail dress or a long ball gown.
  • Open shoes without stockings are allowed.
  • Stockings/tights should be worn with a short cocktail dress.
  • Always make sure the materials are festive and of a high quality.
  • Usually, ladies carry a small bag (e.g. clutch, possibly with a chain or similar to hang the bag over the back of the chair instead of having to put it on the table, or behind you on the chair when attending a dinner.)
  • Large, eye-catching jewellery is allowed.
  • Make-up: you can wear more than usual, but it should not be too gaudy.

Since there are also a number of high-ranking ladies wearing a uniform, the following also applies here:

  • Medals: the rule is that full-size medals are only wore with tailcoats or full dress uniform and evening gowns but never with black tie or short dresses (even though this rule is not always followed in Germany). It might therefore be better to avoid wearing full-size medals.

Please feel free to combine the above-mentioned styles of menswear and ladieswear as you wish: black (or midnight blue) dinner jacket with a ball gown or cocktail dress. As a general rule, please coordinate your choice of clothing with that of your companion in order to create a uniform, harmonious look.

 

Pro Tip: 

  • Please note that black tie isn’t generally worn until around 6 pm local time (unless explicitly stated otherwise on the invitation).

No Go:

  • Avoid wearing ‘sexy’, ‘provocative’ clothing (and anything see-through)
  • No visible tattoos (cover with clothing if possible)
  • If possible, remove any piercings
Dress Code Black Tie 01
Dress Code Black Tie 2

Business suit, business attire, conservative-coloured suit

This dress code can be summarised using the following key points:

  • Official daywear
  • Is seen as business dress code in numerous industries and professions
  • Is the standard daily attire expected by the employer if it so wishes (or prescribes)
  • Depending on the situation, this form of attire can also be worn in the evening (if this is stated on the invitation)
  • More elegant and formal than business casual
  • Should a company have a ‘casual Friday’, you should still never dress casually or sloppily. Remember that other colleagues will also be adhering to the normal dress code on that day, e.g. because they have an important meeting. You should therefore make efforts to find a balanced approach.

 

In business, the following general rule applies:

  • Never dress more elegantly than your manager
  • Always use what your colleagues are wearing as a guide

 

Menswear

  • Modest, dark coloured suit (dark blue, grey, dark grey, very dark brown (brown isn’t always desirable)) – please pay attention to quality and ensure that the suit fits well.
  • A waistcoat can be worn under your jacket (however, the colour must always match)
  • Try to avoid black; it’s too close to the ‘dark suit’ dress code for official evening events.
  • Alternatively, an elegant combination of jacket and trousers is also possible
  • However, for an evening event with ‘business suit’ (‘Strassenanzug’) dress code, you should revert to a suit.
  • Wear this with a white, single-coloured or light-coloured shirt with a modest pattern
  • Wear a belt and dark shoes that match the colour and style of your clothing
  • When it comes to footwear, it’s best to wear leather lace-up shoes or elegant trainers (during the day, shoes in an elegant and fashionable cognac brown, for example, can be worn with a grey suit. For an event in the evening, however, you would then have to change into a pair of dark-coloured shoes).
  • Single-coloured socks are preferable; these should also match the colour of your outfit (never wear white or light-coloured socks!)
  • Ties can have a discreet pattern (a tie should always be an integral part of your outfit at these events. As a general rule, removing your tie is always better than putting one on, or even being told to put one on, during the event.)

 

Ladieswear

  • A trouser or skirt suit, or a skirt / trousers combined with a blouse (with modest pattern and colours) – please pay attention to quality and ensure that the clothing fits well.
  • Colours: dark blue, dark grey, muted grey, dark brown. Black is more acceptable for ladies than for men, but if possible, the outfit shouldn’t be totally black, otherwise it would look like you are attending a funeral or could be confused with the ‘dark suit’ dress code (little black dress). Pinstripes or a subtle pattern could be a way around this.
  • However, for an evening event with dress code ‘business suit’ (‘Strassenanzug’), you should revert to a trouser or skirt suit.
  • It’s preferable to wear stockings or tights (with moderate patterns and colours). Stockings aren’t a must in very warm weather, but then you should wear a trouser suit or a ladies’ suit (combination) with a longer skirt (at least knee-length or a hand’s breadth under the knee). These are general recommendations. Shorter skirts can only be worn in combination with stockings, preferably opaque.
  • Preferably closed shoes (not too high), elegant trainers (but not casual/recreational in style) or peep toes (for evening events it’s better to wear closed court shoes, although the heal shouldn’t be too high!)
  • Ladies’ bags and/or accessories: straight, linear forms, no showy details or patterns, etc., modest colours that match the clothing.
  • Jewellery: preferably modest, a little more can be worn for evening events
  • Make-up tip: modest and discreet (a little more make-up is acceptable for evening events)

 

Pro Tip:

  • It goes without saying that any dress code for work is always aligned to the respective company or business where you are employed. Nowadays, there are no clear boundaries and no longer any stringent rules. However, when choosing your clothing, it can still be helpful to at least paint a picture in your head of the event in question; that way, you can avoid being noticed for the wrong reasons.

No Go:

  • Avoid loud and striking colours, patterns or outfit combinations
  • No trainers, biker boots or similar shoes – and certainly no flip-flops!
  • No clothes printed with funny designs or statements (including on socks or stockings)
  • No clothes with glittery effects
  • Never wear midriff-baring tops
  • Ladies should, if possible, avoid sleeveless clothing (if this isn’t possible, please wear a little jacket)
  • Avoid wearing ‘sexy’, ‘provocative’ clothing (and anything see-through)
  • No visible tattoos (cover with clothing if possible)
  • If possible, piercings should be removed before working time begins.
Dress Code Business Suit 1
Dress Code Business Suit 2

‘Cutaway’

This dress code stipulates what people are expected to wear at highly official, ceremonial events during the day.

Today, this dress code is only ever used for occasions including

  • Solemn and formal highly official events such as:
  • Royal weddings (or weddings of the nobility) in Europe
  • Royal Ascot (with a top hat)
  • State receptions/banquets
  • State funerals, etc.

The official invitation will therefore certainly state whether this dress code is required. Not many people will have to adhere to this dress code in their normal working environment. If desired by the host, this dress code has very little if any leeway when it comes to varying your outfit.

 

Menswear

  • Black cutaway (short frock coat)
  • Black-and-grey striped trousers
  • Grey gilet (waistcoat) – or one with a discreet colour
  • Alternatively: a grey cutaway / morning dress
  • White shirt
  • Grey/silver tie with pin or an ascot (day cravat)
  • Black shoes (not patent leather!)
  • A wristwatch or pocketwatch are permitted
  • Medals are permitted (worn on the left breast)
  • Full dress uniform is also permitted during the day, but this will certainly be stated on the invitation
  • The ‘Stresemann’ serves as a less formal alternative (see the definition on the general list for ‘other dress-code rules’ under ‘Dress codes’. If you are unsure, it’s best to choose a cutaway / morning dress.
  • If you decide to wear headdress, this should be a top hat (in a traditional black or grey – preferably with a dark or black hat band). 

 

Ladieswear

  • Short, elegant dress with a jacket or coat, or
  • An elegant ladies’ suit, but no evening suit!
  • Open shoes without stockings should be avoided! If you want to be on the safe side, go for closed court shoes with stockings/tights.
  • Usually, ladies carry a small bag (e.g. clutch, possibly with a chain or something similar to hang the bag over the back of the chair instead of having to put it on the table, or behind you on the chair or seat.)
  • Jewellery: pay attention to quality – no costume jewellery – and not too much
  • Make-up: formal, but it should not be too gaudy

 

This, of course, does not at apply at all for highly official funeral ceremonies! Here, ladies must follow the usual strict standards for such occasions:

  • Black ladies’ suit (dark charcoal or midnight blue are also acceptable)
  • White (or dark) blouse
  • Be sure to wear black stockings and black shoes (or in a colour that matches your clothing)
  • Black coat (dark charcoal or midnight blue are also acceptable)
  • Jewellery: as little and as discreet as possible
  • Make-up: very subtle!

 

Pro Tip:

In contrast to the dinner jacket, the cutaway / morning dress is a piece of daywear (frock coat for during the day). Generally, cutaway jackets are worn up to 6 pm (local time) at the latest (unless explicitly stated otherwise on the invitation).

No Go:

the following also applies to ladies for this dress code:

  • No trousers or trouser suits
  • No long dresses
  • Never go without a jacket or coat
  • Avoid wearing ‘sexy’, ‘provocative’ clothing (and anything see-through)
  • No visible tattoos (cover with clothing if possible)
  • If possible, remove any piercings
Dress Code Cutaway

Dark suit, lounge suit

This dress code stipulates what people are expected to wear at official, formal events. It is a dress code that is required for occasions such as:

  • A gala dinner
  • Elegant, family festive occasions such as weddings
  • Funerals
  • Tributes, special birthdays or anniversaries
  • etc.

In most cases, this dress code should be mentioned on the invitation. Should that not be the case, then we would advise you to check with the host – a gesture that would certainly be seen as a sign that you attach particular importance to the event. However, this is not something you should do if the event is a funeral. You should always attend a funeral in appropriate dark (ideally black) clothing, and any coat you take should also be dark coloured. This applies unless the family or relatives explicitly state otherwise.

 

Menswear

  • A dark suit (e.g. single-breasted black jacket) in black, midnight blue, dark grey/charcoal – please always pay attention to quality and ensure it fits well (nothing glittery)!
  • Dark brown is usually explicitly discouraged under this dress code.
  • A waistcoat can be worn under your jacket (however, the colour must match).
  • This should be complemented by a white (or subtly pastel-coloured) shirt, black shoes and socks, and a black belt.
  • It is best to choose lace-up shoes made of smooth leather (a subtle brogue pattern is also acceptable, but no shoes made of suede or similar materials).
  • Ties should be discreet and formal, if possible without a pattern (the tie should be a dark colour; only wear a black tie if the event is a funeral).
  • You can also wear a pocket handkerchief (this should be coordinated with the colours and style of your other clothing).

 

Ladieswear

  • A formal, dark-coloured trouser suit or ladies’ suit, preferably without any patterns – please pay attention to quality and ensure that the suit fits well.
  • Alternatively, you can also wear a short evening dress (little black dress) or a short cocktail dress.
  • Dark brown is usually explicitly discouraged under this dress code (unless it’s a very high-quality ladies’ suit or cocktail dress that is suited to the occasion).
  • For footwear, you can choose court shoes or even elegant peep toes (with a heel) or high-heeled sandals (not too high, otherwise it isn’t possible to walk elegantly).
  • This dress code allows bare legs, but please always pay attention to skirt length (for funerals, it’s preferable to wear stockings or a trouser suit / long skirt).   
  • Ladies’ bags and accessories: small, elegant bags are preferred. Avoid any showy details or patterns
  • Make-up tip: you can wear a little more than usual, but not too flashy!
  • You are permitted to wear some eye-catching jewellery, but this should not be too flashy.

 

General note:
The nature of ladies’ clothing means that ladies have a lot more leeway than men when it comes to variation: glamorous, festive and elegant, or modest and formal. But please note that there are also ‘more formal’ dress codes, such as black tie, white ties and cutaway / morning dress. For this reason, it is essential for ladies to coordinate their choice of clothing with that of their companions in order to create a uniform, harmonious look.  

 

Pro Tip:

  • The key to choosing the right attire lies in the meaning of the words ‘formal’ and ‘festive’. A wedding, for example, is both festive and formal. A funeral, however, is formal but never festive.

No Go:

  • Avoid loud and striking colours, patterns or outfit combinations
  • Ladies can also wear sleeveless tops; however in such cases they should always have a stole or elegant jacket with them. At funerals or in churches, etc., sleeveless clothing is taboo!
  • Avoid wearing ‘sexy’, ‘provocative’ clothing (and anything see-through)
  • No visible tattoos (cover with clothing if possible)
  • If possible, remove any piercings
Dress Code Dark Suit

Private casual

This isn’t actually an official term or dress code in itself because – as the name implies – it doesn’t constitute a code but rather refers to a casual way of dressing.

For this reason, the following information is a guide and only really applies to

  • Private events 
  • Events of a ‘private nature’ (see the information under ‘Detailed text’ about when a colleague or your manager is the host)

Private events hardly ever include the dress code on the invitation and nowadays, people often invite their guests on the phone or WhatsApp (or a similar medium). If you are unsure, we recommend asking the host for clarification – this will certainly be seen as a sign that you attach particular importance to the event, even though it is a private one.

 

Whenever the dress code indicates a more ‘private casual’ style of clothing, then the following is possible:

  • You can express your own personal style
  • Your clothing can be very individual
  • Your style of dress can be casual or even provocative
  • You can dress in a laid back and relaxed manner

 

Pro Tip:

  • In cases where a colleague or your manager is the host, we advise you to enquire whether there is any ‘dress code’ that can serve as a guide.
  • If, even after receiving this information you’re still unsure, then it’s best to be a little overdressed than underdressed. In this case, avoid wearing anything provocative and don’t go over the top – a dark suit or similar outfit really isn’t necessary!

No Go:

  • Your clothing should never be sloppy or dirty!
  • Be sure to leave your tie at home!

Smart casual (equivalent of ‘business casual’ in a business environment)

This dress code can be summarised using the following key points:

  • Elegant yet casual clothing (but no sportswear such as shorts, etc.!)
  • The equivalent of ‘business casual’ (in a business environment)
  • Is worn on private/social occasions
  • Is now the dress code for the business environment at many companies with a large number of younger employees 
  • Is always smarter and more elegant than ‘private casual’
  • Personal style can be emphasised in a subtle manner
  • Should a company have a ‘casual Friday’, you should still never dress casually or sloppily. Remember that other colleagues will also be adhering to the normal dress code on that day, e.g. because they have an important meeting. You should therefore make an effort to find a balanced approach.

 

In business, the following general rule applies:

  • Never dress more elegantly than your manager
  • Always use what your colleagues are wearing as a guide

 

Menswear

  • Casual and elegant
  • Simple daytime suit, usually without a tie (but in business situations you can of course wear one)
  • Jacket and trouser combinations (dress trousers, chinos or chords) are also permitted
  • Plain, preferably dark coloured (although brown or beige are also okay) with a shirt (with a discreet pattern) or polo shirt (one colour, no printed messages or remarks), best worn with a jacket (ideally with one colour and a discreet pattern)
  • As an alternative to a jacket, you can also wear a very high-quality knitted jumper, preferably plain in colour (cardigans on the other hand usually look old-fashioned)
  • Belts and shoes should coordinate in terms of colour and style
  • For shoes, it’s best to wear leather lace-ups, today elegant loafers or trainers (in a subtle brown, dark blue or black) are also possible
  • Socks, preferably plain in colour

 

Ladieswear

  • A trouser or skirt suit, or a skirt / trousers combined with a blouse (with a modest pattern and colours) – with or without a jacket.
  • If wearing a t-shirt or polo shirt, always make sure it’s of a high quality and check what condition it is in.
  • If possible, wear stockings or tights (discreet patterns and colours)
  • Shoes: court shoes (not too high), elegant loafers, trainers or peep toes
  • Handbag: not too fanciful and, if possible, with few fancy details (also pay attention to quality here)
  • Jewellery: preferably modest
  • Make-up: this should be subtle in a business environment, but you can wear more in a private setting

 

Pro Tip:

It goes without saying that any dress code for work is always aligned to the respective company or business where you are employed. Nowadays, there are no clear boundaries and no longer any stringent rules. However, when choosing your clothing, it can still be helpful to at least paint a picture in your head of the event in question; that way, you can avoid being noticed for the wrong reasons.

No Go (especially in a working environment):

  • Avoid loud and striking colours, patterns or outfit combinations
  • No trainers, leather boots or biker boots – and certainly no flip-flops!
  • No clothes printed with funny designs or printed messages / remarks (including on socks)
  • Never wear midriff-baring tops
  • Avoid wearing ‘sexy’, ‘provocative’ clothing (and anything see-through)
  • No visible tattoos (cover with clothing if possible) 
  • If possible, piercings should be removed before working time begins.
Dress Code Smart Casual 1
Dress Code Smart Casual 2

White tie (full evening dress)

This dress code stipulates what people are expected to wear at highly official, formal evening events. It forms the most formal dress of any wardrobe and is now only requested on occasions such as:

  • Solemn and formal highly official events such as:
  • Royal weddings (or weddings of the nobility) in Europe
  • Royal Ascot
  • State receptions/banquets
  • State funerals, etc.
  • Nobel Prize award ceremonies
  • Oscar awards ceremonies
  • The Vienna Opera Ball, etc.

The official invitation will therefore state whether this dress code is required. Very few people will ever have to adhere to this dress code in their normal working environment. In addition, there isn’t much, if any, leeway when it comes to varying your outfit.

 

Menswear

  • Black tailcoat (less frequently midnight blue)
  • Black trousers (less frequently midnight blue) with a high waistband and double-stitch piping down the sides (silk stripes are called galloons)
  • White evening shirt
  • White gilet (waistcoat)
  • White bow tie
  • Tailcoats are always worn open.
  • Black patent leather shoes with black socks
  • The appropriate headdress is a top hat.
  • No wristwatches; wear a pocketwatch instead
  • Medals are generally permitted (worn on the left breast); miniature medals on a chain or ribbon on the left breast.
  • If wearing a uniform, it should be full dress uniform (with medals on the left breast, or a ribbon)


Ladieswear

  • Long elegant and festive evening dress or ball gown
  • It is possible to wear open shoes without stockings because the dress is long
  • Usually, ladies carry a small bag (e.g. clutch, possibly with a chain or similar to hang the bag over the back of the chair instead of having to put it on the table, or behind you on the chair.)
  • It’s also fine to wear eye-catching jewellery, but preferably high quality – no costume jewellery!
  • Make-up: you can wear more than usual, but it should not be too gaudy

 

This, of course, does not apply at all for state funeral ceremonies! Here, ladies must follow the usual strict standards for such occasions:

  • Black suit or ladies’ suit (dark charcoal or midnight blue are also acceptable)
  •  White (or dark) blouse
  • Be sure to wear black stockings and black shoes (or in a colour that matches your clothing)
  •  Black coat (dark charcoal or midnight blue are also acceptable)
  •  Jewellery: as little and as discreet as possible
  •  Make-up: very subtle!

As a rule: At funerals or in churches, etc., sleeveless clothing is taboo!

Since there are also a number of high-ranking ladies wearing a uniform, it should be noted that if wearing a uniform, it should be full dress uniform (with medals on the left breast, or a ribbon)

 

Pro Tip:

  • One steadfast rule is that white tie attire must never see daylight. Corresponding formal daytime events are attended wearing a cutaway / morning dress, or the female equivalent.
  • Normally, white tie attire isn’t worn until around 6 pm local time.
  • Exceptions: Weddings, or if the invitation explicitly states otherwise.

No Go:

  • Avoid wearing ‘sexy’, ‘provocative’ clothing (and anything see-through)
  • No visible tattoos (cover with clothing if possible)
  • If possible, remove any piercings
Dress Code White Tie

Other dress-code rules

Come as you are

Occasions:

  • After-work cocktails
  • Vernissages
  • Small receptions, etc.

Please take care with this dress code rule! This does not imply that you can appear in what you would wear to go shopping or to carry out an everyday activity, such as taking the dog for a walk, etc. You are expected to appear in office attire.

 

‘Stresemann’ (a variant of the cutaway / morning dress worn in Germany)

Occasions:

  • Solemn and festive highly official events such as:
  • Royal weddings (or weddings of the nobility) in Europe
  • State receptions/banquets
  • State funerals, etc.

It was often worn at the time Konrad Adenauer served as Federal Chancellor, and was named after Gustav Stresemann. For this reason, it was also known as a Bonner Anzug (Bonn suit). In contrast to the cutaway / morning dress, the jacket of the Stresemann is the same length all around and has no tails. However, the Stresemann is not worn for highly official events. If you are unsure, we recommend asking the host for clarification or wearing a cutaway / morning dress instead.

 

‘Evening dress / formal wear’

Occasions:

  • Official evening events

This dress code is intended to grant guests more personal freedom. Possible attire ranges from dark suits to dinner jackets or tailcoats.
In this case it is therefore usually imperative that you ask your host what kind of attire is expected.

 

‘Black tie optional’

Occasions:

  • Gala evenings (dinner)
  • Award ceremonies
  • Tributes
  • Weddings, etc.

This means you have a choice between a dinner jacket or a formal dark evening suit. If you are unsure, we recommend asking the host for clarification.


‘Swallow-tail’ or ‘claw-hammer’ coat
Colloquial terms used in the United Kingdom for a dress coat (waist-length jacket with peplum – the tails look a bit like a swallowtail or the prongs of a claw hammer).

 

(Double) Galloons
Silk stripes on black tie and white tie trousers. Black tie trousers have one silk stripe on each side; white tie trousers have two silk stripes. The silk stripes are also known as galloons.

 

Gilet
A gilet is a sleeveless, very elegant waistcoat worn by men. It is worn with a cutaway / morning dress, a dinner jacket or a tailcoat.

 

Cummerbund
A cummerbund is a waist sash worn by men. Cummerbunds are worn over black tie trousers and are worn in lieu of a waistcoat. A matching bow tie is worn. Traditionally black, they are now also available in other colours (even red). Cummerbund and bow tie should match in terms of colour, but should also be in keeping with what others are wearing.

Wikipedia describes the historical and phonetic development of the Cummerbund as follows:
A cummerbund (Persian: کمربند, romanized: kamarband) is a broad waist sash, usually pleated, which is often worn with single-breasted dinner jackets (or tuxedos). The cummerbund originated in ancient Persia, and was adopted by British military officers in colonial India, where they saw it worn by Indian men. It was adopted as an alternative to a waistcoat, and later spread to civilian use. The modern use of the cummerbund to Europeans is as a component of a traditional black tie event.
The word cummerbund is the Anglicized form of kamarband (Hindustani: कमरबंद; کمربند), the name commonly used in the South and West Asia including India for the article of clothing. It entered English vocabulary in 1616 from India. It is a combination of the Hindustani words (kamar) meaning ‘waist’ and (band) meaning ‘strap’ or ‘lacing’. The ‘waist-band’ was a sash accessory worn by Indian men for many occasions.(Before the British colonial presence, Persian was one of the court languages in India, hence the Persian influence).
The word cummerband (see below), and less commonly the German spelling Kummerbund (a Germanized spelling variation of the English word), are often used synonymously with cummerbund in English. Today, the word kamarband in Persian refers to anything which is or works like a belt, be it a clothing belt, a safety belt or a ring road around a city center (کمربندی). 

It is believed that British soldiers imported this fashion of wearing sashes to Europe from India during British colonial rule: officers found wearing waistcoats under jackets to be too warm on account of the tropical climate. They instead adopted the Indian custom of wearing a belly band made of fine fabrics, the so-called kamar band, as an alternative. The Persian word ‘kamar band’ (= ‘waist-band’) then evolved phonetically into the English word cummerbund, which is still used today.

This new fashion made its way from India to England, where a waistband with three or four horizontal pleats has been alternative to the waistcoat when wearing an evening suit since 1893. Wearing a cummerbund with a dinner jacket started becoming more prevalent in Europe from circa 1930. 

 

Ascot
The ascot, also known as a day cravat, is a predecessor of today’s neck tie. Today, self-tied ascots are worn mainly by traditional hunters. Ascots are also part of an elegant bridegroom’s attire, worn in combination with a three-piece suit (suit and waistcoat), a cutaway / morning dress, or a high-quality wedding waistcoat.

 

Pochette
An elegant pocket handkerchief worn with a dark / lounge suit.

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