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Modern Dress Code


Today’s informal lifestyles have caused a relaxation of male dress codes. However, this easing of the rules has created some confusion. At Vance Vivian we are happy to give you the benefit of our experience regarding appropriate dress for different occasions. Following is a decoding of some terms we refer to often:


Business (or Corporate)
Generally this means a classic business suit and tie. Conservative environments like finance, law and government usually dictate more conservative dress. Creative environments like architecture, advertising and IT are more open to interpretation.


Relaxed Corporate (or Business Casual)
Alternative to the suit, defined as a comfortably relaxed version of classic corporate attire. The look may or may not involve a jacket, although this is recommended for meetings and more formal situations. Tailored trousers and a woven collared shirt are safe choices. Any knitwear should be fine in finish and plain in design. A tie is optional.


Smart Casual (or Upper Casual)
Similar to Relaxed Corporate. However, as this mode of dress is worn for social occasions there is more scope to dress it down with knits and more casual trousers. Jackets are still a good idea, because if you go somewhere dressed in smart casual attire and no-one else is wearing a coat, you only need to remove your jacket to blend in. In summer, linen suits can qualify as Smart Casual. In winter, leather and suede jackets work well.

Where seen: casual parties/weddings, social, get-togethers, restaurants, bars


Sporty Casual
A more dressed-down version of Smart Casual. May include active sportswear garments such as sweatshirts, windcheaters, polo shirts, T-shirts, jeans, bulky knitwear, as well as shorts and sandals in summer. Don’t make the mistake of going ‘Sporty Casual’ to the office – save it for the weekend.

Where seen: spectator sports, boating, barbecues.

Formal Wear


Black Tie
A black suit or tuxedo, white dress shirt and a black bow tie form the basics. The shirt should have a normal collar or a ‘wing-tip’ collar and have French cuffs that are finished with cufflinks. The bow tie can be ‘pre-tied’ or for the brave among us, a ‘tie your own’ gives that unique, finishing touch and looks rather cool when hanging un-tied at the end of a good night .

See visual below for a step by step guide to tie your own bow tie.

Where seen: balls, award nights, gala openings


Lounge Suit
(or Semi-formal, Formal or Cocktail)

In each of these cases, a dark-coloured business suit is appropriate. Luxury, refined fabrics and a dressier shirt and tie than you may normally wear for business will help give your suit a sense of occasion. If the event has an artistic edge, you may consider substituting your shirt and tie with a piece of high-necked fine knitwear worn underneath your jacket.

Where seen: cocktail parties, functions, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, parties, racewear


White Tie
A long black tailcoat worn with a white wing collar dress shirt and white tie.

Where seen: Usually ceremonial or official government occasions.