Foreign, African perspective on dress codes

BY: Emma Addo-Owusu

It’s that time of the year when the invitation to events start to trickle in and you start to see strange dress requirements and what nots.

 Don’t worry, we have your back covered and will take you through what they mean and how they affect your image.

Put simply, a dress code is a set of rules that define what sort of clothing should be worn during certain occasions in a formal or informal setting.

We, therefore, have a dress code for social events such as a cocktail party, wedding, sports and a dress code for business environment depending on the particular dictates of the institution.

In view of the flurry of events coming up between now and the year’s end, lets direct attention to the social dress code, namely the black tie dress code and the white tie dress code.


That said, however, you should remember that the underlining factor to achieving grooming success through our choice of clothing begins with understanding what these dress codes are and how we can use them to ensure that we project the right image of ourselves.

 Black tie dress code

The black tie dress code when stated on an invite indicates that the function is semi formal. However, there is a list of appropriate attire to be worn to fit this particular dress code for men or women. The black tie code often applies to evening function wear and is suitable for a not too formal occasion.

 Black tie code


They will need of course a black tuxedo jacket. Note that  white jackets (Ivory coloured) are worn during hot weather,  a cummerbund or black waist coat, silk bow tie, a dress shirt definitely a Marcella or a pleated front with French cuff and of course, cufflinks. Shirt studs are optional.

 Finally, you complete your look with a pair of black Oxford styled shoes which are a must with your silk or woollen socks.

Where the host indicates that the Black Tie is “optional”, then a Tuxedo is not compulsory and a formal business suit will do. Tuxedos are quite expensive, borrowing or buying.

 A black tie code, foreign or african.


The attire for this particular dress code is not too regimented when compared to those for men. The length for a lady’s dress in a Black Tie event varies. The dress can be ankle length or mid calf.

These days’ knee length dresses are acceptable as long as it is formal in cut and appearance. All dresses worn for this code must have a formal look.

 Black tie dress code, the African perspective

There is nothing wrong in trying to promote and encourage the Black Tie dress code from an African perspective.

The key to success in opting to go African for a black tie dress code  and pulling it off is in wearing a simple yet sophisticated style that encompasses an African look.

I know this because not every lady is comfortable wearing a dress not fashioned in an African way. So, ladies, the choice is all yours to go foreign or African? It’s your call.