Decoding Dress Codes!

Have you ever been invited to a social gathering and had the awkward conversation about the dress code for the event? What’s “kind of dressy”? Does casual mean the same to everyone? What’s “smart casual” versus “business casual”and then all those formals? And if you thought all these labels were easier for men, rest assured they are not. We’re here to help! Perhaps this can even help you learn how to label your next event. That way you don’t confuse some poor soul by using casual and semi-formal as interchangeable terms. Read on for a breakdown so that you are in the know and don’t have questions the next time you’re about to go out!


This is the only non-code dress code. You can basically wear whatever you want and be as comfortable as you want to be!

Ashby’s Tip: It’s better to be too dressy than the opposite. Don’t wear borderline offensive or offensive tees. Opt for jeans or nice tailored shorts. Don’t wear warm-up pants or old tees and cargo shorts.

Ashby's Casual




Business Casual.

The standard thought for this is to wear what you would generally wear if you worked in an office. A typical day. We’re talking khakis and a collared, long-sleeved button down shirt. In the summer perhaps a polo shirt. But always a shirt with a collar.

Ashby’s Tip: No wrinkles! It doesn’t matter how much your look fits the bill overall if you present with wrinkles. Get your clothing ironed, buy some fabrics that are anti-wrinkle and then make sure you HANG them up. Or take your clothes to a dry cleaner.

Smart Casual.

If you know this standard, you already know more than most people when they are decoding dress codes. Think of this one as “dressy casual”. This means you combine your casual and business casual to make a “smart” blend of business and nice casual choices. This is your moment for tailored jeans and sport coat. Also vests and ties, as well as trouser pants and khakis are great options.

Ashby’s Tip: Tailored denim means it should fit you like a trouser. Don’t have baggy jeans on, jeans that are too long and dragging, or any holes in your pants. The same goes for your other types of pants. Get them altered to fit you! Hems are something we do frequently for our customers. Just ask!

Also, this is a moment where you can put a dark suit jacket with a pair of light slacks from another suit. This is a sharp look, but still casual though you are wearing a “suit”.

Ashby's Smart CasualAshbys Smart CasualSmart Casual ash


This one can throw many people off. You actually do have to be formal; informal doesn’t mean casual. This is more sophisticated than smart casual. This is the moment where you need your suit and tie.

Ashby’s Tip: Wear business colors: black, navy, gray or brown. This isn’t the time to break out the wild new colors for Spring.


Definitely more sophisticated than informal. A notch below a tuxedo. Always were a dark suit and a long tie here.

Ashby’s Tip: Less personal expression in this category. Generally you were a dark suit and a dark long tie with a white shirt.

Semi Formal AshDSC_0059

Formal/Black Tie/ Black Tie Optional

All of these distinctions are the fanciest of all dress codes. Many people will have on tuxedos.

Ashby’s Tip: Don’t feel that you have to literally wear a black tie. A matching tie and vest of your choosing can work here as well.


Questions? Comments? We’d love both! And if you’re interested in following us and being the FIRST to know when we have new styles and merchandise, like us on Facebook at Ashby’s Menswear on Facebook and shop online with us at


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