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Semi-casual dress tends to lie a step above casual and a step below smart or business casual on a dress code scale. According to BellaOnline Etiquette Editor Lisa Plancich, semi-formal attire means feeling relaxed and comfortable, without looking like someone who forgot to change out of her pajamas. It is not black tie, but is not casual wear either. Read the tips below to learn how to dress for a dressy casual event.

General Rules

Appropriate semi-casual dress will vary by geographical location, event, and work industry. According to BellaOnline, dark and neutral colors are always safe options. Nice sandals are appropriate for warm weather, as well as hats, gloves and shorter length coats for colder weather. Safe garments often include a dress shirt, dressy pants, an occasional blazer, a polo shirt or collared shirt and dress shoes of some sort, like loafers.

Day Dress

Daytime semi-casual dress for women may include items such as a knee- or ankle-length dress, khaki pants, a knit sweater set or pullover, and light colored hosiery. Women may accessorize their outfits with a patterned scarf, or a piece of jewelry like a pin or broach, according to BellaOnline. Avoid super dressy cocktail dresses, but opt for structured dresses that lie just above the knee instead. Jumpsuits are also allowed during day dress events.

Evening Dress

Dress Code Guide online states that during evening events women may wear skirts to the knee, neatly pressed blouses, dark slack suits or khakis, and a low pump shoe. Maxi dresses and midi dresses are also a great option for being semi casual at night. Men should wear button-up shirts with a jacket over and dress pants. Tuxedos would be seen as overdressed for an evening occasion that is semi casual.


Sweats, holey jeans, band or logo T-shirts, and extensive amounts of jewelry and accessories are never appropriate options for semi-casual dress. Avoid tennis shoes, plain white shirts and other fashion designs that are too laid-back. Run your outfit ideas by someone who is familiar with semi formal dress and will know if your outfit will be consider too casual attire for the event you’re going to.