The 3 W’s of dressing for the right occasion

BUSINESS WEARLike everything else today which is governed by rules and regulations? Dressing is no different and is governed by a dress code and these dress codes are appropriate for every occasion and should be adhered to in the same manner as all other rules and regulations that are to be followed.

When one speaks about a dress code, which is categorized by different levels of formality pertaining to the type of occasion which has been standardize for the past sixty years or more as far as formal dressing is concerned, while the more casual style can change from year to year.

One of the most asked questions that people approach me about is “What is Elegantly Casual”? This is a widely misconceive expression and many people are usually at a lost and confused when it comes to receiving a written  invitation for a function that requires a  strict dress code,  and having to implement the three W’s of dressing, Where, When and What.

  1. Where is the function being held and the type of function?
  2. When is it, the time, the day, whether morning or evening?
  3. What to wear?

Normally finding something to wear out is always a big challenge and headache for most people and depending on the type of function, it would be impolite to turn up at a function being hosted and out-dress the host. If ever in doubt as to what to wear, one should always check with the host ahead of time or stick to the required dress code for the type of function.

The dress code for Barbados is the same for both men and women for many events as in Western cultures which are specified, and the invitee should wear clothes that are specified according to the particular level of event, whether it is from a white tie affair to casual.

Occasion Men Women
White Tie Very formal events


No tuxedo or dark suit

Black tail coat, matching pants with a satin stripe.White pique’ wing collared shirt and White vestWhite studs and cufflinksWhite bow tie

White or gray gloves

Black patent shoes and black socks



Formal floor length evening gown
Black TieGalas,  Opera, Fund raisers dinners, Diplomatic functions Black tuxedo jacket and matching pants. Formal pleated or pique’ white shirt, Black studs and cufflinksBlack shinny bow tieBlack cummerbund to match tie, or a vest

Dressy suspenders (optional)

Black patent shoes and black socks

White dinner jacket, black tuxedo pants in the summer


Formal floor length evening gown, Dressy cocktail dress or Dressy little black dress
SemiformalWeddings, Opening nights   theatre


Dark business suit,Matching vest optional and Dress shirtConservative tieDressy leather shoes and dark socks Short evening or cocktail dress, A little black dress or Long dressy skirt and topDressy separates 
Business FormalBusiness Meetings Dark business suit, Matching vest optional and Dress shirtConservative tieDressy leather shoes and dark socks Skirt or pants suit, Business dress and StockingsHeels
Business CasualBusiness purposes Church Blazer or sports coat,Dress pants, Dress shirt, tie optional or casual button-down shirtPolo shirtLoafers and socks Skirt or pants, Open collar shirt or JerseyNo spaghetti straps or low cut necklinesCasual dress
Dressy CasualBusiness purposes


Sports coat, Button down shirtDress pants Dress, Blouse and skirt, Dressy or slacks
CasualInformal settings


Hanging out

Plain t-shirt, Polo shirt and JeansShortsCasual button down shirt

Loafers or sneakers without socks

Sundress, Long or short skirt or JeansShortsPlain t-shirt

Polo shirt

Casual button-down blouse


THE TUXEDO LOOKIf you happen to receive an invitation for a function that says “Black Tie Optional” you can wear a dark colour suit with black tie. However if your female partner is wearing a gown, then you will have to wear a tuxedo.

If you invitation says “Black tie Required” then you have no other choice than to wear a tuxedo, you do not have to wear a black tie, but can accessorize it as you wish.

In the case of a national dress, it is appropriate and can be worn for all occasion.

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