Etiquette 101: Dress the Part

As we prepare for the climax of our 50th Anniversary of Independence celebrations, Barbadians and visitors alike will be treated to a potpourri of events throughout the month of November.

One important question which usually pops into your mind after making the decision to attend a specific event is “what am I going to wear?” And while you may have a spanking new multi-coloured tutu in your closet that you are anxious to wear, it might not be the most appropriate outfit for the event you are attending.

It is therefore important to read and adhere to the dress code on invitations and tickets. Oftentimes it may be difficult to interpret, but a simple rule to follow is, ‘the earlier in the day – the lighter the colour, the later the day – the darker the colour’.

blackxtieOne of the most frequently encountered types of formal evening wear is black tie. It is worn for dinners, parties and balls. Black tie dress code is traditionally stated for formal events that commence after six o’clock in the evening, or after sundown.

Receiving an invitation which stipulates Black Tie Dress Code can be a little confusing for both gentlemen and ladies, so here’s a simple breakdown:

Here is a guideline you can follow for the different types of dress you may encounter on your event invitation:

Black Tie

• Black tuxedo jacket and matching trousers
• Formal (piqué or pleated front) white shirt
• Shirt studs and cuff links
• Black bow tie (silk, satin, or twill). Dark coloured bow tie may be worn with matching cummerbund.
• Black cummerbund to match tie, or a vest
• Dressy braces to ensure a good fit (optional)
• Black patent shoes and black dress socks


• Formal (floor length) evening gown


Lounge Suit

• Tuxedo (see “Black Tie” above) or
• Dark suit (Matching jacket and trousers)
• White dress shirt, and conservative tie
• Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks

• Formal (floor length) evening gown
• Dressy cocktail dress
• A “little black dress”
• Dressy separates

Business Formal

• Dark business suit
• Dress shirt
• Conservative tie
• Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks

• Suit
• Business-style dress
• Dress with a jacket
• Heels, low or high

In our next feature we will give you some tips on accessorising for different events.

Stephne Goddard is a Hospitality and Tourism Training Consultant. She may be contacted at 437-4845.