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Dress codes can be a controversial subject; in a recent survey, 22% of adults argued that work place rules on clothing limited their self expression.  On the other hand, dress codes are said to improve discipline in schools, discourage bullying based on perceived income differences, and generally set the tone for what is expected by an employer or authority figure.  In luxury establishments, dress codes offer much the same. Rather than seeing them as stuffy or restrictive, view them as setting the parameters for what’s acceptable; and then go and have fun applying your own style to it.

Be a gracious guest

With the world’s most luxurious hotels going to considerable expense (most notably $3 billion for Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace) to build, lavishly furnish and delight their guests, it is perhaps only fair that you dress to show your appreciation of their beauty.  In any luxury environment, adhering to the dress code signifies your respect for your host. It can also put you at ease, helping you to feel confident and enjoy your stay. If in doubt, go formal; there’s less risk of causing offence and you can always pretend you’re going somewhere even more high-end afterwards.

A cut above the rest

When deciding what to wear to respect a dress code, classics are always your friend.  Brands such as Chanel, Armani and Gucci consistently feature wherever timeless iconic fashion is valued.  A well cut dress or suit will always look sharp and you can easily update it with a splash of on-trend color or pattern in your jewellery, pocket square or bag.  A well cut outfit will also be able to transition with you for events that last longer. Consider a glamorous evening at a casino, for example; you may want to look composed at the poker table, join friends for a meal, take in a show and then dance the night away.  Good tailoring and a well made pair of shoes can stand up to the longest (and most fun) occasions.

Thoughtful touches

A dress code may state formal, but that doesn’t have to mean boring.  You can bring your own sense of style to it by adding a thoughtful nod towards your setting.  If you’re attending a high fashion event, vintage brooches or bags are a perfect way to show your fashion credentials; or, of course, wearing a piece by the featured designer would be an extremely kind and flattering gesture.  Similarly you can use your wardrobe to show appreciation of a local culture or heritage, or to signal a belief in ethical sourcing at an event supporting sustainable values. There are even apps to help you check how ethical a fashion brand is, to avoid any embarrassing mistakes.

No matter what the stated rules are, underpinning any great look is some basic grooming.  A regular haircut, manicure (for both men and women), and attention to skincare will always elevate an outfit, even if it’s somehow fallen a little short of the dress code.  Add a confident smile and you’re good to go.

Tracy Bannister

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