If Work is Beyond 5 O’Clock: Part 1


Sometimes “work” crosses over into after five with events involving clients, employees or potential customers.  So what should you wear when representing your company doing charity work as many corporations now do? Anytime that the event involves your company whether for charity work, a convention or conference, a special event or the employee party, your appearance is just as important.  Not only are you driving home the company’s image but yours as well.

            Many people feel that the company party or picnic is a time to reveal themselves.  Not quite.  Yes, it’s a time to relax and mingle with co-workers but it’s not a time to get plastered and tell a few things to your boss!  So when it comes to dress it’s not the time to wear your own thing rather, wear what you wear to work but with some casual aspects if it’s a picnic or the office party.  So if jeans are appropriate wear your good jeans and stay away from the designer versions that are holy, torn and bleached.   For women, no cleavage, spandex tank dresses and thigh high skirts or slits.  For both sexes avoid wearing all your jewelry (including body piercings) that you normally wear with your friends. 

So when it comes to after five let’s first cover the definition of terms often found in invitations and the attired that they are requesting.  Often under the formal category there are lots of different codes with different requirements.  If you have to attend lots of black tie affairs consider investing in a black tux or a dark suit for men and a either an evening suit or cocktail dress for women.  A great place for cocktail dresses at all price points is www.edressme.com.

·         White Tie: Men a white dinner jacket, black pants, shirt and tie or tails; for women it’s a long evening gown in perhaps chiffon, organza, or taffeta.

·         Black Tie: Men, black tux, shirt and tie and cummerbund.  Women, long gowns or cocktail dresses.

o   Creative Black Tie: Perhaps a black tux, black shirt and NO tie for men; long or short evening gowns or cocktail dresses for women.

o   Formal: Men, it’s a tux with no tie; Women, long gown or short cocktail dress

o   Business Formal: Black tux, no tie for men and tailored dressy evening suits for women

o   Daytime Evening Formal: Usually this means a dark suit for men and a cocktail dress or dark suit or evening separates for women

o   Semiformal: Usually an event after 6pm; for men, wear a dark suit or blazer and a cocktail dress, evening separates for women 

  • When the event is black tie, men will need to rent a tux or wear a dark (black or navy) suit and tie.  Some creativity is permitted in the cummerbund and tie if your corporate culture is less restrictive.  However, with the tux black hosiery and black shoes are a must. 
  •  For black tie events, women might look to wearing a short, three quarter or long dress or gown in silk, chiffon, crepe, taffeta, or organza (keep the velvet for the cooler months of October through January).  This is a truly dressed up event so look your best and accessorize with appropriate shoes such as strapped evening sandals in metallic and ultra sheer hosiery.  Include dramatic jewelry and a clutch.    Showing up in a lounge suit is not an option.  Although tempting avoid showing off too much cleavage and too much thigh.


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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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