White Tie – the most formal mode of dress, worn only after 6pm, appropriate for important balls or cotillions, opera openings, and state dinners, attire of musical conductors and members of orchestra or symphony

  • floor length ball or evening gown
  • shawl, stole, or bolero jacket
  • coordinating closed toe shoes
  • stockings or hose
  • opera-length dress gloves or short gloves if the gown has long sleeves
  • clutch evening purse
  • very best jewelry *no watches
  • conservative makeup
  • updo

Black Tie – appropriate for more formal proms, the opera, galas, and balls

  • conservative cocktail dress, gown or long, formal dress, or evening separates
  • coordinating shoes
  • accessories as appropriate


Semi-Formal – also known as After 5 or Cocktail attire, latitude allowed for personal style and fun, appropriate for proms, the derby, weddings, opening nights, and receptions

  • formal ball skirt with coordinated top, formal dress, short gown, or little black dress *for daytime, a short dress or dressy suit may be appropriate
  • coordinated hat for outdoor events
  • shoes and jewelry as appropriate

Professional – formal work attire, traditionally navy or black, appropriate for work and professional practice

  • business suit with skirt or slacks, tailored dresses *skirt should hit at the knee
  • conservative blouse or shirt, sweater, or turtleneck
  • minimal, small jewelry and accessories

Smart Casual – the bridge between formal work attire and casual work attire, subtle or neutral colors but generally not black or navy, latitude allowed for personal style, appropriate for more important work or church events, academia, presenting or instructing

  • tailored jacket
  • tailored fashion dress, skirt or slacks
  • tailored sweater, turtleneck, or blouse
  • conservative heels or flats as appropriate
  • coordinated, casual jewelry
  • leather accessories

Business Casual – casual work attire, appropriate for work and church events *here codes are very fluid and can vary widely depending on location

  • modest clothing
  • conservative heels or flats
  • complementary rather than distracting jewelry

Casual – appropriate for everyday events (i.e. shopping, hanging out, attending classes) and more dressy events (i.e. dining out, parties or dance clubs)

  • anything within taste and reason as appropriate

Active Wear – the most casual mode of dress, appropriate for physical activity and travel to and from the gym

  • fitness clothing
  • athletic shoes