So you've been invited to an event. The host has embraced a dress code that quite frankly you cannot understand, nor want to. You feel as if you are too old and far too comfortable to tackle this new-age rulebook, and you hear yourself asking “why can't I wear sneakers with that?” far too often. Gone are the days of simple dress codes- you knew that formal meant wearing a suit, and informal means it’s totally OK to wear jeans to a wedding. When did it all become so complicated? Dress codes have taken on a whole new meaning, and decoding them is the key to ensure you are neither over- nor underdressed at any event. Because at the end of the day, you never want to be that guy. Never fear, your confusion over white tie, dressy casual and semiformal and everything in between is about to be expunged, allowing you to understand exactly when it’s the right occasion and time to put away the sneakers, and pull out the top hat. Black Tie Black tie is less obvious than the title suggests. This event calls for a semi-formal look- traditionally this means a white shirt, a black bow tie, an evening waistcoat, a dinner jacket and black dress shoes. Either a full tuxedo or suit is required. However, in the twenty-first century, there is more creative freedom that can be expressed in this dress code. The strict bow tie rule is no longer enforced- long black ties can also be worn, and white suits are appropriate for this dress code too- however, this is more common in warmer weather. Should your host throw the quirky creative black tie dress code into the mix, it’s important to remember that this is not an invitation to wear that impulsively bought item in your closet you've been threatening to pull out for years. This simply means, wear a tuxedo, but don’t be a suit. A simple and understated way to follow this dress code is by wearing bright and boldly patterned socks. They won’t steal the show, and will only be visible when sitting down, symbolising the edgy, yet sophisticated man you are. White Tie If you see this dress code on an invitation, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve been invited to a ball. Because white tie is as formal as it can get. This means pulling out all the stops. White bow tie, top hat, pocket squares, coat tails, walking stick. The number of these items you choose to wear is based entirely on your confidence. Channel your inner earl on this one. Business Casual Business casual usually means no tie, and a collared shirt that’s tucked into smart pants- like chinos or suit pants. For colder occasions, a cardigan or sweater can be worn with this dress code. Business Formal A business formal dress code requires you to wear a suit and a tie- basically your corporate look. Pocket squares and lapel pins are a creative way to express individuality, and move away from the white-collar feel of the dress code. Casual A casual dress code won’t be found on an invitation to a wedding, unless the bride is barefoot, and not expecting much from the guests. Casual is exactly what you’d wear on a normal basis, but not quite the clothes you’d reach for when you don’t feel like making an effort. Jeans and sneakers fall into this category. Dressy Casual Dressy casual still allows you to wear jeans, but paired with a dinner jacket, smart shoes and possibly a tie. Waistcoats are an excellent way to make that distinction between the two casual dress codes. Semiformal This dress code requires a button down shirt, paired with a suit. A tuxedo is not required. A vest can be worn, as well as a blazer, suit pants and smart shoes. A bright and bold tie helps shift this look from smart to semiformal. Cocktail Attire Cocktail attire is very similar to semiformal. However the main difference lies in the shoes. Cocktail attire allows for a more casual look, therefore sneakers are a great accessory for this dress code.