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Dress Code Decoded

Choosing a Tux
How to Tie a Tie

Choosing a Dress
Choosing Your Shoes

Clothing Emergencies
How to Fix a Run in Stockings
Your Shirt is Caught in Your Zipper
You're Splashed by a Taxi
How to Remove a Lipstick Stain
How to Remove a Wine Stain
How to Remove a Sauce Stain
Your Clothing Rips
Your High Heels are Killing You

Dress Code Decoded (from

  • Black Tie means formal. Men wear tuxedos, women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
  • White Tie means ultra-formal. Men wear full dress, with white tie, vest, shirt. Women wear long gowns.
  • Formal usually means the same as Black Tie, but in some trendier cities like New York or Los Angeles, it could mean a black shirt, no tie with a tux. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
  • Ultra-formal means White Tie. Men wear full dress, with white tie, vest, shirt. Women wear long gowns.
  • Black Tie Optional means you have the option of wearing a tuxedo, but it should clue you into the formality of the event, meaning a dark suit and tie would be your other option. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
  • Black Tie Invited means you have the option of wearing a tuxedo, but it should clue you into the formality of the event, meaning a dark suit and tie would be your other option. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
  • Creative Black Tie leaves room for trendy interpretations of formal wear. He can go more modern with a tux -- maybe a black shirt, no tie. She wears long or short dresses or evening separates (maybe a long lace or sequined skirt with a sleek cashmere sweater).
  • Semi-formal is the trickiest of all dress codes. Usually it means that tuxes are not required, nor are long dresses. An evening event (after 6 PM) would still dictate dark suits for him, and a cocktail dress for her. Daytime semi-formal events mean a suit for him and an appropriate short dress or dressy suit for her.
  • Cocktail Attire means short, elegant dresses for her and dark suits for him.
    Dressy Casual usually means no jeans or shorts. Similar to business casual, but a tad dressier.
  • Casual generally means anything goes.
  • Informal can mean the same as casual. However, when associated with a wedding or other special event, some form of decorum and good taste should prevail. A dress for her or a nice pair of slacks and shirt for him are informal, but respectful of the event.

Choosing a Tux: Can I just wear a black suit? (from Men's Wearhouse):

Your black suit is not a tuxedo, no matter how you accessorize it. If you're not sure what makes a tux a tux, here's what you should look for:

  • Pants. They will always have some kind of satin stripe running down the outside of each leg. They will never have belt loops. And tux pants rarely have cuffs. Plain bottoms are the way to go
  • Jackets. Tuxedo jackets have satin lapels, whether shawl (traditional) or notch (more modern). Satin-covered buttons are also a must.
  • Shoes. It's simple. Tuxedo shoes are patent leather shoes. Always have been. Always will be.
  • Shirts. A dress shirt is not a tuxedo shirt. Look for pleats or a textured "bib" on the front. Vertical ribbing is most common, but any distinctive texture is usually acceptable. Except the aforementioned ruffles. French cuffs are preferred.
  • Cufflinks and a stud set (in lieu if your top four shirt buttons) are standard components of a tux. A pocket silk is a popular accent. In a wedding, pocket silks are often replaced by a boutonniere. Sometimes men wear both, but this tends to crowd the lapel area. Use discretion.
  • Socks. Formal dress socks please. No light colored athletic socks.

How to tie a tie

Visit this website for a graphic demonstration:

How to Dress for a Black-Tie Affair - Women (from

  1. Select a style and cut that flatters your figure, highlighting your assets and minimizing any problem areas.
  2. Look for full-length skirts and dresses; lengths that hover around the knee are usually considered semiformal.
  3. Consider the material and texture. Silk, satin, embroidery, beads, rhinestones, velvet and metallics are all well-suited for formal attire.
  4. Evaluate your options if you decide to wear a two-piece ensemble. Pair a beaded stretch top with a full-length, slim velvet skirt, or a silk organza blouse with a full satin skirt that hits at your ankles.
  5. Remember that your dress options are unlimited. Consider spaghetti straps or a jewel-neck collar; a plunging back or a revealing front neckline; and side or back slits. Some events may call for more conservative attire, so consider this when making your selection.
  6. Choose colors that complement your complexion. Black isn't the only evening color. Deep reds and plums, crisp pastels, and silver and gold can all look equally stunning.
  • Invite a trusted companion to see you in the outfit you're considering before you make the purchase.
  • Consult with your date to ensure that his tie and cummerbund match the color of your ensemble. Black complements everything.
  • Wear underwear that will remain discreet. Check to make sure that bra edges and straps will remain concealed throughout an evening of sitting, standing and dancing

How to Select Shoes (from

  1. Consider the color of your dress. Decide whether you would like to match the color of your dress or whether you prefer to contrast your dress and match your shoes with your handbag.
  2. Consider the fabric. For a flowing, lightweight silk dress, consider strappy sandals or mules. For a heavier fabric such as velvet or a heavy silk, consider patent-leather, supple-leather or velvet shoes.
  3. Complement the embellishments in your dress with those in your shoes. If your dress has embroidery, rhinestones or appliqu?s, look for textured shoes with similar decoration. If your gown has gold or silver accents on a solid background, gold- or silver-toned shoes make a great contrast.
  4. Take a moment to focus on the length of your dress. Evaluate whether it will sweep the floor without a few extra inches.
  5. Think about the height of your date. If you need a few extra inches to reach him, look at mid- and high-heeled shoes. If you're evenly matched in height, look at ballet slippers or low-heeled mules.
  6. Remember to consider comfort when you are shopping. You might find a very beautiful shoe that will be perfect for a sit-down event. If your activities call for a few hours of dancing, however, buy shoes that can get you through the evening as comfortably as possible.
  • If you wear stilettos, give your feet a break when you sit down for the performance or dinner by slipping off your shoes. Your calves and lower back will thank you in the morning.
  • Treat yourself to a pedicure if you choose open-toed styles.

You have runs in your stockings

  • Use clear nail polish around the edge to keep the run from spreading. Hairspray may also work.
  • Move the rip so that you it's not as obvious:
    • If it is at your toe, stretch the toe out further and tuck the excess fabric under your foot so the rip cannot be seen.
    • If the rip is down the front, twist your pantyhose to your inner thigh so that the tear is less visible. Be careful as you twist to avoid ripping it further.

Your Shirt is Caught in Your Zipper (from Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Sex and Dating)

  1. Grasp the shirttail: For internal snags, slide your hand inside the front of the pants above the zippered area. Otherwise hold the material that is sticking out.
  2. Pull the stuck fabric taut and upward
  3. Guide the zipper down with your free hand. Apply steady force to the zipper: pull but don't yank too hard. Be careful not to pinch your fingers. Also be careful to keep the garment away from the body, so the teeth of the zipper don't bite your skin.

You're Splashed by a Taxi (from Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Sex and Dating)

  • If you're splashed with water, head to the nearest restroom and use the hot-air hand dryer. Stand very close to the dyer and rock from side to side, using your hands to billow and fluff whatever garment is wet.
  • If you are splattered with mud, add a dash of salt to a glass of club soda from the closest bar and dab it onto the dirty spots. The soda will work on the mud, the salt will lift out any oil from the street that was mixed in with the mud.

How to Remove Lipstick Stains (from

  1. Dab stain with denatured alcohol using a soft, white cloth.
  2. Rub dishwashing detergent gently into the stain with your finger.
  3. Try using a stain stick and leaving it on for several minutes before washing, if the mark is stubborn.
  4. Wash fabric as usual.
  5. Ask your dry cleaner for help if all else fails.
  • Tip: If you are out and don't have access to alcohol, leave the stain alone until you get home. If you're desperate, try dabbing it with cold water.
  • Warning: Remember to dab, not rub, as rubbing can ground in the stain.

How to Remove Wine Stains (from Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Sex and Dating)

  • For white wine, wet a cloth napkin with cold water and dab the stain. Avoid hot water, which will set the stain.
  • For red wine, soak a cloth napkin with white wine and apply to the stain. Then dab the stain with cool water
  • Rub toothpast - the white, pasty kind only - onto the stain to make it easier to clean later
  • If you spilled the wine on your date, apologize, offer to pay the dry cleaning bill, and immediately pour or order another glass of wine.

How to Remove Sauce Stains (from Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays)

  1. Remove excess food as soon as possible: use a spoon or blunt knife to scrape the stain. The longer a stain sets, the more difficult it is to remove.
  2. Apply a detergent solution: mix one teaspoon of clear, mild liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of lukewarm water. Do not use detergent that contains bleach. Apply the detergent solution to the stain: Do not rub the stain. Work from the edge of the stain in, gently blotting. Rinse the stain with cold water and blot dry. If stain comes out, go to last step.
  3. Apply an ammonia solution: If the detergent solution does not work, mix one tablespoon of household ammonia with ? cup of warm water. Blot the stain with the ammonia solution. Then rinse with cold water and blot dry. If stain comes out, go to last step.
  4. Make a vinegar solution: Mix 1/3 cup white vinegar with 2/3 cup cold water. Blot the stain with the vinegar solution, then rinse with cold water and blot dry. If stain comes out, go to last step.
  5. Apply commercial enzyme detergent: Enzyme detergent is available in grocery, drug, and hardware stores. Blot the stain, rinse with the area with cold water.
  6. Blot dry: Place a ? inch thick pad of white paper towels over the stained area and weight it down with a flat, heavy object-a thick book works well. Change the absorbent pad until the transfer of the stain is no longer visible on the pad
  7. Launder according to manufacturer's label

What to do if your dress/pants/bra rips (from Dating for Dummies)

  • Find or borrow a jacket, sweater, shawl etc. to tie around your waist.
  • Borrow a safety pin.

What to do if your high heels are killing you (From the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists)

Lucky for all divas, The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists have discovered the 'G' Factor of High Heels, offering four easy tips to help women enjoy wearing high heels without damaging their feet:

  • Glamour - Let high heels give you that extra 'sparkle' and save wearing them only for glamorous, special occasions. Try limit wearing them to around three to eight hours, and the height of heels, even for the most 'A-list' of events, shouldn't be so high you have trouble walking! For everyday wear, heel height shouldn't be more than 4-5 cm's.
  • Glide - Don't look like you're rushing to catch a bus. slow down, take smaller steps and shorten your stride when wearing high heels. Put the heel down first and glide! Not only will this minimise damage to your feet, but will give you that sexy high-heel wiggle! In fact, Lady Di wore low heels as her long legs and slender frame didn't allow her to wear high-heels and glide elegantly.
  • Guide - Let the experts guide you into buying the right size shoe. According to leading podiatrist, Trevor Prior, 90 % of his patients wear shoes that are too small. Sizes vary according to the brand and style, so, be sure to have shoes correctly fitted and check that there is up to 1/2 inch of space in the shoe beyond the longest toe and that the shoes are not too narrow. Also, nip any foot related problems in the bud to avoid them getting worse and before they impact on your lifestyle - use the guidance of experts such as your local podiatrist for advice.
  • Give - Give your feet some extra special attention during, and after wearing high heels. Exercise the calf, heel and foot muscles by stretching them out to increase circulation and help them relax - you can even do it whilst standing at the bar waiting for a drink! Give your feet a moisturising massage when you get home (after bathing!) to again help your foot muscles relax and put back some of the essential moisture you lose wearing backless, or open-toe heels.

~ Provided by the Class of 2005 Senior Ball Committee ~


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