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How to Dress for Charity Events

How to dress for charity events

Charity events are always a special occasion, but to find the perfect dress for such events can be challenging. You would want to avoid being too dressed up but yet dress in a way that expresses respect for the event and its host. Fortunately, decoding dress code clues can help you make the right choice every time. So, what to wear to a charity event?

Dress code for charity event

A dress code is always tricky. Men may be required to wear a black suit and a white bow tie for most of the charity events. Selecting the dress code that matches the event you are attending is another dilemma. For example, when the invitation states “casual,” you can almost guarantee that no woman will show up in a gown or a floor-length dress. A sundress or even a stylish shirt and jeans ensemble are entirely appropriate. For a cocktail event, women tend to wear shorter dresses with some frill, and if nothing fits the bill, then a classic little black dress will always make for great cocktail attire. Men usually opt for dark suits, coats and tie paired with stylish jeans for cocktail events and a jacket and a tie for the casual events. So think twice before you finalize your attire and read the instructions on the invitation to avoid coming to an event slightly overdressed than the rest of the guests.

Dress code for charity events trends for 2019

Neglecting your appearance in comparison to the rest of a crowd at an event doesn’t make you look like a creative spirit; instead, it expresses a frivolous attitude towards the event and subtle disrespect to the attendees. That’s why a dress code is widely applied to charity events. With that in mind, let’s check out the latest dress code for charity event trends for 2019.



Slightly less strict than a black tie event, semi-formal still fits on the list of regulated formal dress codes. There should be no difficulty in keeping a fashionable agenda with this level of formality. Women’s dresses can be shorter than evening dresses, including the classic “royal” length. In England, elegant coveralls or other elegant options with dress suits are quite acceptable.


For men, it would be appropriate to wear a black, dark grey, or dark blue suit, complemented by a white shirt and silk tie.

Cocktail attire


Cocktail outfits are often requested by organisers if an event is held no later than 5 p.m. If an event is just beginning at 5 and may end later in the evening, then an evening dress can be worn.

Women should wear cocktail dresses, the length of which should reach the knee. Other valid options include a skirt or pants, and low-key jewelry is allowed. In the afternoon, ladies are often invited to add a hat to their outfit but only when the event is held partially or completely outside.


Men are invited to wear a dark suit and a dress shirt. In the case of cocktail attire, men can take a creative approach and choose a bright tie that matches their pocket square (or this piece of clothing can be ignored altogether). A cravat is a wide tie wrapped around the neck. Also, be sure to wear less formal shoes—a pair of classic Oxfords, for example, or loafers without socks—and you will perfectly match the charity event dress code.

What to wear for a charity event

To avoid any unpleasant feelings or offensive comparisons throughout the evening, we suggest thoroughly understanding the most common dress codes for parties so you can make the right clothing choices and shine at any charity event you attend.

Types of charity event dresses

With new styles and fashion trends coming up by the hour, it is quite difficult to purchase a dress that will match your accessories and look fantastic on you. The same can be said about a man’s bowtie, tuxedo or jacket. So, here is a short list of the types of charity event dresses that are on the top in 2017.

Glitter and sparkles

When it comes to a glitter dress, you may want to shine but make sure you do not overdo it. A sparkling dress, with a black choker and some lovely diamond jewelry, will get you tons of praise.

Short and Bodycon

Be careful with these. Short and bodycon dresses are mostly appropriate for casual events, but you have to be careful as these dresses are high maintenance. You need to remember at all times to maintain an upright posture and resist from pulling them to cover your thighs. Be comfortable in them, and you will look chic and casual, yet with a purpose. Pair the look with some Jimmy Choos and simple ear studs.

Formal and sophisticated

This year, it is a tie between mini and maxi. The sleek LBD is back and is trending in these charity events. A dress with a hiked-up hemline, sheer tights, and car-to-carpet shoes, will make heads turn when you walk in.

Long and bold

The floor-length gowns with floral designs are in fashion this summer for casual events and formal events, dresses with thigh slits are back. Other styles are trending as well like the street style, and open back.

White Tie events

A white tie is a very formal type of invitation and both genders should take exceptional care when selecting their attire. Men usually prefer to wear a black tailcoat (short or waist-length), with black pants. Also, it is important that the trousers display a single satin stripe. If you pair this look with a white, crisp and collared shirt, a black bow tie and white vest or cummerbund, no matter the age you will look as dashing and charming as a prince. Other accessories may include gloves, shirt studs, cufflinks and black shoes. Women, on the other hand, opt for floor length gowns that can range from tea and ballerina to full-length. In such events, the gowns are usually made of velvet, satin, and organza. With elegant updo hairstyles and glittering diamond jewelry, the ladies look quite stunning.

Black Tie

Black tie events are a little less formal. At these events, men dress in black tuxedoes paired with a white, pleated tuxedo shirt. Gloves and cummerbunds are optional, but black shoes, cuff links, and bow ties are a must. Women prefer to wear full-length ball gowns and elegant cocktail dresses. These events usually involve dancing as well, so women tend to wear gowns with a flared skirt so they look gorgeous when a man swings them around.


On such occasions, ladies tend to wear short dresses, skirts and little black dresses paired with high heels and minimum jewelry, while men wear different darker shades of suits with white shirts. In this case, the vest is optional.

Smart casual

It is also known as business casual or country club casual. Women can wear bodycon dresses and formal skirts. Men are usually dressed in collared shirts, slacks, and loafers. Men who like the continental look can wear a navy blue blazer.

How to choose a Tie?

A tie and a bow tie are very necessary accessories during charity events. Men should give a good look at the lining of the tie since that is what tends to bind the tie together. The next important factors are the fabric, its feel, and smoothness. The texture of the tie is also important should be put into consideration.

Men should also look at appropriate sizes for their tie as the selected tie usually corresponds to the width of the jacket. The tie should not be either tight or loose. The intricate methods of tying a tie as well as bow tie is an art, so it is always better if men master it from the start.

Though it may appear as the men’s wardrobe is limited compared to a woman’s, but that is not true. It is hard to find an appropriate tie to match the shirt, shoes and jacket or tuxedo.

Tips on how to choose the right clothes

What do you wear to a charity event? Here are some pro tips concerning what to wear at these common events.


  • It’s best to choose clothes you feel comfortable wearing.
  • Try wearing a tube dress and pairing it with a wide belt. The belt creates the illusion of a well-defined waist.
  • Be sure to wear dresses or tops that pinch at the mid-section, creating some dimension to your body frame.

Make sure you are aware of your figure type to emphasise the advantages and hide the disadvantages.


  • Wear a suit. The key to a suit looking good is how it fits.

Also, don’t be stingy; invest wisely in a good watch, as it is a key male accessory.

  • If you choose to wear stylish jeans, do it with good taste. Keep it simple and semi-formal, as if you were wearing suit pants.

Keep your accessorising to a minimum, and buy a pair of good shoes, which can be just as important as having a good watch.


What you need to wear for the event depends on the dress code and the event type. You should dress to impress but keep in mind that you need to look smart and decent. Choose the outfit that matches your body shape. Regardless of the event, you should be comfortable in what you wear, and that is the most important factor. If you are ever confused about the attire for a fundraiser or any event, just have a peek at this article, and you will surely get a clear idea.

Do check out these links for other relevant topics on fundraisers and charity events. Get started with GEVME and have all your charity event activities run smoothly.

This post is written by Chris Bouchard, a regular contributor to the GEVME blog. Chris is a consultant for non-profits and social entrepreneurs. 

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Latest comments

  • Wow, I did not know that men accessories can be so selective. I will take care of the latest fashion. This blog has really helped to know about latest men fashion. Thanks a lot!

  • This is very nice post. It is also very helpful for us. I have been searching this types of article. Some days ago I read an article about dresses, but this post is better than post.

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