Have you ever gotten an invitation to a networking or social event where, you look at the attire and are left completely confused? I have been there more times than I can remember and so I began to do research and have come up with simple descriptions of some of the most common things that you will be asked to wear.
Smart casual is in fact an actual style that you may be asked to wear. For males, it consists of a nice pair of jeans with either polo or a dress shirt, completed by a blazer, vest, or sweater. Ties are optional and this style is usually worn with loafers. Slacks are also acceptable. Women have a few more options. The first decision is skirt or pants. If you decide to wear a skirt, shorter skirts (to the knee or slightly above) are acceptable. If you decide to wear pants, slacks and jeans are acceptable but I would avoid neon color pants or skinny jeans. Most women wear middle or high heeled shoes, flats, or boots with smart casual. As far as tops go, a nice simple but dressy shirt will do with a nice cardigan and accessories to go along with it will do.
Miami is so special that they invented their own style, Miami Casual. Miami is a laid back place and this style reflects that. With Miami Casual, boat shoes are acceptable to wear to work as well as collared shirts without ties. For women, sundresses can be worn without a cardigan or blazer. I would still shy away from the flip flops and shorts however.
How can something be both business yet casual at the same time? It’s very simple; for women, business casual can consist of a nice pair of khakis, slacks, or a nice skirt (at least to the knee) with low heels, and a nice, conservative blouse. Limited jewelry should be worn and bold nail polish should also be avoided. Business casual for men means a nice pair of khakis or slacks, and clean, polished loafers. A polo or button down dress shirt should also be worn, blazers and ties not needed.
Business professional is simple; it means no khakis for anyone, male or female. It also means that both genders need to wear blazers and men need to wear a tie. The pants or skirt suits should be in neutral colors with a solid colored dress shirt.
Men should wear a full suit; a vest is optional (though I always think that if you have a legitimate reason to wear a vest you should). A tie, either a straight tie or bow tie, should be worn with a simple dress shirt. Try to avoid linen suits, though comfortable, they don’t exactly fall into the semi-formal family. For women, dresses are always a safe bet but pant suits are okay depending on the material they are made out of. The outfits should be somewhat conservative, not showing too much leg or cleavage. Shoes and jewelry should add to the elegance of the outfit, not subtract from it.
When invited to a formal event, think incredibly dressy. Men wearing tuxedos would be appropriate as would women wearing floor length dresses and simple, yet elegant jewelry such as pearls or broaches.