Different types of occasions call for a different set of clothes. It’s easy to distinguish between casual and formal wear, but everything that comes in between most often needs some re-assessing.
For men, the term “formal wear” is easy enough, because formal office wear is not really so different from formal event wear. At most, the only difference is trading a suit for a tuxedo or vest, but regarding the overall look, there is little change.
For women however, “formal wear” is not standardized to fit all occasions. For instance, formal business attire commonly means business suits, dress shirts, suit jackets, and either a pair of pants, or a skirt. Meanwhile, formal black tie events would usually mean dark (preferably black) gowns that touch the floor. During summer, a cocktail dress can do for a formal event as long as it doesn’t look to casual. Likewise, a backless dress, or a plunging neckline is okay as long as you don’t overdo it.
White tie events on the other hand, is the strictest with regards to dress code. Women must absolutely wear floor-length gowns preferably made of silk, chiffon, or velvet, and be very wary about any eye-catching design that calls too much attention. Simple but highly elegant is the theme to remember for white tie events—hair must be worn up, hands are preferably gloved, and accessories smartly coordinated.