Dress Code Decoder

When it comes to Hollywood party attire, what an invitation says and what it means are two different things. Here’s a celebrity style guide

theessentials_masa_t“Business cocktail”
Think of it as: Celebrity meets CEO
Annette Bening pulls this one off best. So does Julia Roberts. Got a black suit and a sparkly bag? A little sparkle in the shoes won’t kill you. There you go. Business for your bod and a party in your bag.


theessentials_masa_t“Black tie preferred”
Think of it as: No bow tie
Le Petit Cranky Pants (aka Ben Stiller) sports this look often. Picture this: straight tie, black shirt. It’s an updated version of the Reservoir Dogs  look (black coat, white shirt, straight black tie). Your shirt can have a hint of color too. No neon’s—unless you’re in the band. You’re “black tie preferred” when there is no bow to be found. Sporting a bow tie would be trying too hard for this one.


theessentials_masa_t“Dress up”
Think of it as: Suits in various hues and a fedora
John C. Reilly tops just about every suit with a hat. “Dress up” means get creative. Reilly’s suits are rarely black but are beige, tan or pinstriped. I’ve also seen Thomas Jane sport a fedora with a rust suit. He forgot his shoes, though, which brings me to…


theessentials_masa_t“Beach chic”
Think of it as: Sporty, pricey. shoes optional
Partying on the sand requires some thought. Cameron Diaz does terrific Beach Chic, which means comfy fabrics, an appropriate amount of skin (tans from the sun went out ages ago), and shoes that don’t stay on long. Julia Roberts and Diane Lane sport this look at ‘dos in Malibu a lot. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still talking money and designers, but when your heels start sinking into the sand, it’s time to ditch ‘em.


theessentials_masa_t“Festive ”
Think of it as: All glitz, no gray
Kerry Washington wears everything from orange to purple when it’s time to get “Festive.” Leave the black and grey in your closet and if it has a bejeweled neckline, even better. Because everything is better when it sparkles.

Photographs courtesy Shutterstock