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Session 2: Matching Your Personal Style To The Occasion

Last week we used a quiz to identify and explore your personal style. Knowing your style is great, but knowing how to use it is truly life-changing. To make the most out of your personal style, you must match it to the occasions you encounter day-to-day. 

What The Occasion Calls For 

Your image is intended to first and foremost please you. Be true to you. Reflect your real personality and mindset. However, a close second is that it’s appropriate for the occasion. 

This appropriateness plays a huge role in both how comfortable you feel in what you’re wearing and others having a positive first and lasting impression of you in your business and personal endeavors. 

How do you know what’s appropriate? 

If you receive an invitation, whether it’s a social event, business meeting, romantic date, or otherwise, then the invitation itself will likely tell you where and what you’re attending. In many cases, such invites will be accompanied by a predetermined dress code, such as black tie or semi-formal. Otherwise, you’ll need to use deductive reasoning skills based on the venue, audience, and activity to determine the appropriate dress.

But, what do all these categories of dress code entail? Great question! 

Every category of dress conveys an unspoken message alongside its obvious visual communication. This is what sets the tone, mood, and flow of interactions at an event. What’s appropriate for each category, and what are those messages? Let’s find out. 

1) Casual Relaxed 

This means that your host wants you to be presentably relaxed and informal. It’s streetwear, but it’s not so carefree that you’d wear tight exercise clothing, beachwear, sleep clothes, or otherwise revealing clothing that’s immodest. The message here is that you’re entering a friendly environment where good impressions are based more on how you present yourself in what you’re wearing than what you present yourself wearing. 

2) Semi-formal & Cocktail Attire 

This is your after 5pm dress code that’s for events with a mix of low key elegant structure and comfortable good times. Your host wants you to look dressy, but still leave wiggle room for fun and games. The goal is to not look like you’re going to a business meeting nor meeting a queen. Think LBD for women and a dark and vested business suit for men. The message here is that you clean up nicely, but don’t go overboard with the theatrics of formalities. 


3) Black Tie 

Black tie is all about the host asking for effort from the attendees. Via an evening gown and tuxedo, you’re expected to look more out together than you do during business hours. The dress is structured formally so that guests know to behave with the same structured decorum in how they carry themselves. The message is to bring out your best dress and behavior. 


4) White Tie 

Just when you think black tie is as formal as it gets, you get a white tie invitation. This is the most formal attire dress code, and it requires pristine attention to every detail because whatever occasion is at-hand is most likely one for the history books. Yes, that means a full-length ballgown and your finest accessories for the ladies and a tail coat and cuff links for the gentlemen. The message here is to go the extra mile beyond standard formal for a once in a lifetime occasion. 

Is Your Personal Style Ready For Any Occasion? 

As you can clearly see, your personal style must meld to you – your personality and purpose. But, it must also match the occasion that you find yourself headed into day-to-day. If you get the dress code message wrong, then even looking authentically you will still leave you feeling very distinctively uncomfortable. 

Need help deciphering occasions and their dress codes? Need help blending your personal style into the different categories of dress? A certified image consultant can pull all the threads together to make your image and occasion perfectly blend.