A Guide on How to Dress for Special Occasions


Over the past few years, dress codes have been a long and distant memory as we ditched formal wear in favour of loungewear and comfy clothing during the pandemic. But now, as we find ourselves in the new normal, special occasions such as weddings, parties and graduations find themselves being added to our calendars more frequently.


Dress codes are important, as they help to signify the smartness of an event and give guests an idea of what is expected of them. But, unless you’re heading to a races event or attending an extravagant lunch, most special occasions come without a formal dress code. If you’re not quite sure what to wear for special occasions, let’s take a look at some top tips on how to dress for special occasions. 



Unless the couple has asked for a specific theme or dress code, then it’s best to assume that the dress code is smart, formal wear. As an unwritten rule, women should avoid the colour white in respect of the bride, but other than that, anything formal is appropriate. 


If you’re attending both the ceremony and evening parts of a wedding, then you want to ensure that your outfit can go from day to night, whether you add a pashmina or shawl for the cooler evenings, or remove statement jewellery pieces once the wedding breakfast is over, there are many different ways you can change your look during the day. 


For men, a smart, dark suit can never go wrong, especially when paired with a crisp white shirt and formal shoes. Add some personality with your pocket square or tie choice. 


A Graduation Ceremony

If you’ve recently finished university or higher education, then your graduation ceremony is likely scheduled into your calendar. When it comes to your graduation, you should prepare for a long day ahead, so you need to ensure that you’re comfortable, as well as smartly dressed. 


When it comes to what to wear, remember that you’ll be wearing a cap and gown for your main graduation ceremony, but you still have photographs with family and friends, as well as the celebration event following the ceremony, so you want to ensure that you look and feel amazing - it is a special day, after all! 


For spring and summer graduation ceremonies, express your personality with a dress in a spring or summer colour/pattern. For winter or autumn graduations, dark block colours are most in keeping with the seasons. With dresses, you find the middle ground between over and under dressed and can add to it as you see fit and if you’re planning on celebrating into the evening, then you can always change into a night out dress! If you’re wearing a suit, then a smart dark jacket and pants combo, with a shirt colour of your choice, is a fail-safe option. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes - you’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing! 


Dinner or Cocktail Party

When it comes to dinner or cocktail parties, then elegance is key. You don’t want to wear something that is too revealing, or makes you feel underdressed. The smarter the better is the rule for these events, but if you’re not too sure about the dress code then you can always ask the host for some guidance. Dress as though you are there to celebrate and, if the event is taking place over the festive season, then a little glitz and glamour won’t hurt! 


If you’re going to a work dinner or cocktail party, then you want to avoid dressing in anything that is too revealing or isn’t appropriate for a work event - think short dresses or low cut tops. If you are planning on mingling or networking with other professionals, then you want to be taken seriously and look professional.