Dress Codes (3)
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California Casual - referring to business attire
For men and women, California casual means the same thing - anything goes. Jeans are the norm, as are t-shirts and polo-style pullovers. In summer months, shorts and sandals are even acceptable. California casual environments are rare outside of the American west coast, but have gained popularity, especially among companies specializing in software design and other areas of the Information Technology industry.
However, even in a California casual environment, you should allow good taste to dictate your choices. Important client meetings and presentations would still call for long pants (even if only jeans) and a shirt with some buttons (even if only a pullover).
This environment is very informal. For both men and women, casual attire refers to clothing that is comfortable and appropriate to the setting and the occasion. For a beach party or backyard barbecue jeans, shorts and t-shirts are fine, but for an afternoon wedding you would still be better served with a pair of slacks and button-down shirt, or summer dress.
Cocktail Attire - generally seen referring to social gatherings, and some fine dining
For men, cocktail attire means suit and tie, or coat and tie. Colors and fabrics may vary with the season or with the location of the event. (A cocktail party at a friend's place would be a little less dressy than one held in a nice hotel.)
For women, cocktail attire is the cocktail-length dress. Hair and make-up should be appropriate to the time of day (typically early evening) and the color and fabric of the clothing will likely vary with the season and location of the event.
Creative Black Tie - generally seen referring to social gatherings, and some fine dining
This is as formal of an occasion as the other black tie variations, but offers men the option to wear some of the trendier styles of tuxedo. Perhaps he might choose a black tuxedo shirt with a collar stud instead of a bow tie, diamond cuff links, or a brightly patterned vest or cumberbund.
For women, there is generally no difference in the creative black tie and other black tie variants, though it does allow for more daring and exotic styles of dresses.
Dress Casual - generally seen referring to social gatherings, and some fine dining
Think of dress casual as being the social variant of business casual. For men and women, the main rule of thumb is no jeans, and something slightly more conservative and 'dressier' than your standard business casual attire. For example, men should choose slacks and button up shirts over khakis and pullovers, while women should choose a nice pantsuit over separates.
Formal Attire - generally seen referring to social gatherings, and some fine dining
Formal attire follows the same rule as black tie for both men and women, although by not specifying black tie the option is available to be a little more creative if the setting is appropriate. (For example, wearing the tuxedo without a tie, or a woman wearing dressy separates as opposed to a dress.)
Informal - generally seen referring to social gatherings, and some fine dining
This environment is the same as casual. Just as with casual attire, informal refers to clothing that is comfortable, but still appropriate to the setting and the occasion.