Cracking the code: The ultimate guide

Cracking the code: The ultimate guide

Invited to a fancy do? We crack the Brisbane dress code so you don't over dress or get booted by the bouncer.

By Jenna Lee | 19th March 2014

As Brisbane’s social scene grows at a rapid rate, it seems so does our social calendar. Charity balls, the opening of a new bar, spring flings and label launches; the invitations seem to roll in and excitement grows. This soon gives way to fear and angst when you realize you have nothing to wear and even worse, can’t even decipher the dress code. Don’t stress; Style has all the answers to keep you looking perfectly quaffed at every event.

White Tie

This is the most formal of all the dress codes, however, there are not many white tie events left in society - let alone in Brisbane. Unless you’re BFFs with Kate Middleton this isn’t one dress code to stress over.  Floor length ball gowns, gloves and a plethora of jewels are required for the ladies. Men, a coat with tails and hat is appropriate, and a white bow tie is a must.

Photo of the Duchess of Cambridge Katherine Middleton and Prince William

The royals know how to accessorise their White Tie attire - with a horse and carriage and cavalry in tow

Black Tie

Style inspiration: Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o
Ladies this is when you can turn up the glam factor. A floor length formal gown is the most appropriate option for black tie events, which are usually event only charity events and balls. While some women may choose to break with tradition and go with a knee length dress, if you are going to do so, we suggest you turn the glam factor to ultra uber. Amp up your dress with overstated accessories and immaculate hair and makeup. For the men a tuxedo or black suit accompanied by a black bowtie is appropriate.


Style inspiration: Olivia Palermo,
Cocktail denotes anything from above to below knee length. But, do keep the length respectable – there’s nothing worse than showing up looking like you stole your outfit from a cast member from Geordie Shore. In Queensland, you will need to dress for the climate, so don’t wear a heavy, beaded dress if it’s the middle of summer and the event is outside. A light coloured frock in breathable fabric with statement accessories is ideal.
For the men a dark coloured suit is appropriate. You can show flare through the use of pattern and colour in your tie and pocket square.
Think special event at Cloudland or exhibition launch at GOMA while sipping on Chandon.

Angelina Jolie in green ball gown and Olivia Palermo in a white cocktail dress

Ange and Liv know how it's done


Style inspiration: Cameron Diaz, Nicole Richie, Rachel Zoe
Relaxed glamour is the key. Think Saturday night dinner and cocktails at Blackbird Bar or Mr. & Mrs. G’s. Camilla kaftans, Sass and Bide dresses, separates, jumpsuits and palazzo pants are all acceptable. A cocktail dress is definitely still appropriate however you have a little more room to play around with trends and silhouettes. For the men a jacket is still required however you may mix it up with colour, navy, grey and taupe are acceptable.

Smart casual

Style inspiration: Kate Bosworth, Elle McPherson, Gwen Stefani, Miranda Kerr
It may be the most common dress code but it is also the one most open to interpretation and therefore anxiety. Think drinks on the deck at Alfred & Constance, or a wine on a Sunday in the bar at Stokehouse. Usually used for less formal events, the trick is to show polish where you can. Opt for dress or skirt and blouse combo with a pair of ballet flats. If you do want to wear jeans, keep them rip free, and avoid thongs, Bonds singlets and footy shorts at all costs. Men should opt for tailored trousers or chinos with a collared shirt. A blazer or jacket is optional.

Actresses Cameron Diaz on the red carpet and Kate Bosworth

Cameron Diaz does a playsuit, while Kate Bosworth is the epitome of casual chic

In the end, it ultimately comes down to one thing… make an effort.  After all, it is a compliment to your hosts when you dress up for the occasion.


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Article by Jenna Lee

Jenna Lee is a girl about town with a background in marketing and fashion design, with a passion for supporting Australian fashion labels, cold-pressed juices and design of any discipline. She is a self-confessed sunseeker and doe-eyed dreamer, spending her weekends escaping to the beach by day and indulging in Brisbane’s finest culinary offerings at night.


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