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Evening Gown Dress Code

Morning/Day For Her

(UK and Commonwealth)

In General

Daytime Dress
Evening Dresses are not normally worn before 6pm. For ladies, daytime dress for a semi-formal event would normally be Cocktail Dress, and then a change into Evening Dress for any reception in the evening.
Cocktail Dress
A short gown.

Also known as a 'Dancing Costume' or a 'Cocktail Gown'.

Ranging in length from just above the knee to about two inches above the ankle (Tea length), however the longer length is appropriate to semi-formal wear.

Popular materials include silk, satin and chiffon.

Less elaborate dresses are most appropriate for semi-formal wear.


Hats are conventional at weddings and outside summer events such as horse racing.

Coordinate with your outfit.

Hats tend to be modest at weddings, but extravagent at the races.


Lace. To complement a Ball Skirt.
Cashmere. To complement a Ball Skirt.
Dressy Top
To complement a Ball Skirt.


Ball Skirt
Full long skirt as an alternative to a gown.
A relatively recent innovation.


Formal Shoes
To suit your gown or skirt.
To suit your gown or skirt.


Chesterfield Coat
The ideal accompaniment to Semi-Formal wear.
Luxury Coat
If weather permits.


As much as you feel is appropriate.

Show off your best.


Scottish Dress
A White Gown with a tartan sash.

Alternatively a long kilted skirt with a jacket.

The tarten of the lady or her companion can be used for the skirt or sash, or a 'district' tarten approved for general use can be used.
Traditional Dress
Traditional dress is always appropriate for semi-formal events.


Formal and Semi-Formal
In high society, White Tie and Ball Gowns was the standard formal form of dress for social gatherings. It shows the wealth of the upper classes and their familiarity of etiquette, and is still expected at the very highest class of event.

However, such elaborate presentation is not very practical for frequent usage, and so the semi-formal dress code Black Tie, consisting of Dinner Jackets and Evening Dress or even the shorter Cocktail Dress was established, for dining in a sophisticated manner, without the impracticalities and lavishness of full formal dress. Overtime, this has become the more standard form of dress for most formal events.