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Appropriate Attire: Dress Right For The Occasion

It's always important to dress appropriately. And when you do, it shows your respect to the one hosting the event. However, some terms for the dress code these days tend to get in the way of you making the right outfit choices. 



CAT: Did you get the invitation to the Have-We-MET Gala?

MS. DEMEANOUR: Yes, hasn’t everyone?

CAT: I love it when an event is clear about the dress code, and I’m glad there are events that stick to the traditional terms. All these newfangled ideas such as “festive chic” or “sporty formal” just muddle things up. There is nothing wrong with formal, cocktail , business and casual.

MS. DEMEANOUR: Well, I don’t mind a little wordplay now and then, but I do understand what you mean. Being appropriately dressed is easier than trying to be the next Lady Gaga. There is a fine line between creative license and just plain silliness.

CAT: Do you think it is appropriate to wear a short dress when the invite says formal?

MS. DEMEANOUR: I think it has everything to do with material and style rather than length. A maxi dress is long but casual in look and fabric. But anexquisite and stylish short dress can look very formal with the right accessories.

CAT: Do you think a long gown is still the best option to wear to a gala party or a ball?

MS. DEMEANOUR: Well, nothing beats the impact of a proper ball gown.

CAT: And have you decided what you’ll be wearing to the party of the year?

MS. DEMEANOUR: Yes, I’ll be taking a page from the Kate, and wearing what I wore last year. If there are doubts, it is still best to ask the host for clarification.


1. Formal or Black Tie usually means the women are meant to come in long gowns and the men in tuxedoes or a piña barong.

2. Semi- formal or Cocktail means the women can wear a dressy short outfit, and the men in a sports jacket or a business suit.

3. Business means both men and women are expected to be in suits, or a tailored dress if the woman prefers a dress to a suit.

4. Casual means a more laidback look is acceptable, but the guest is still expected to look polished and neat.


Illustration by Arlene Sy