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What is Upscale Attire?

Upscale attire might be an unfamiliar fashion term to many people. As the phrase implies, upscale attire usually means dressing a cut above shorts, T-shirts and casual jeans. However, upscale attire does not mean putting on a suit and tie for men or putting on a business suit with a skirt or a pantsuit for women. Upscale attire usually refers to dressing for occasions that take place outside the office. It is a higher standard dress code including clothing like blazers, button-downs, collared shirts, dress shoes, black ties, loafers, button-ups, dress pants, dress shirts, formal dresses, leather shoes, oxfords, sport coats, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, elegant dresses and other attire normally worn for a fancy night out, a high-end events, fine dining experiences, and other dressy casual events. Casual wear including flip-flops, baggy clothes, cardigans, dark jeans or even nice jeans, jerseys, some long sleeves, tank tops, and some turtlenecks are not considered in the upscale attire code.

Upscale Attire Vs. Business Attire

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Upscale attire implies dressing for social occasions. While some business attire might be worn for business-related social occasions, such as an office party, business attire, even business-casual attire, is usually not appropriate for occasions calling for upscale attire. One important difference is that dressy or designer jeans are often appropriate for occasions calling for upscale attire, while this is rarely true for business-casual dressing. Men could wear a collared shirt and dress shoes to both work and a nicer event, for example.

Upscale Attire Vs. Formal Attire

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While upscale attire is often dressy, it differs from formal attire. Formal attire usually requires tuxedos of some sort for men and dresses for women. While a dress might be appropriate for women's upscale attire, the type of dress is different--more like a party frock than an elegant gown. For men, wearing a suit would nearly always be considered too stiff for an occasion calling for upscale attire. Unless it is black tie optional, opting for a collared shirt, loafers or dress shoes and a nice pair of pants is best.

Upscale-Casual Attire

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Upscale-casual attire can be roughly translated to mean cocktail-party attire. For women, this can mean a short dress or perhaps jeans and a dressy top. For men, this usually means a jacket and slacks, but not a suit. A tie is usually not worn. Resort wear, or attire suitable for a cruise, is often also suitable for occasions calling for upscale-casual attire. Avoid flip-flops, jerseys and anything baggy when it comes to dressy casual outfits.

Upscale Club Attire

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A phrase often associated with club attire is "dress to impress." For women, this often means more flamboyant or revealing attire than normally worn anywhere else besides the beach. Glitter tops, short dresses and skirts, designer jeans, and heels are all appropriate for upscale club attire, rather than cardigans and capris that could be worn for casual looks. For men, the look is somewhat more complicated. A suit won't cut it, and usually jeans aren't appropriate either. Khaki pants might work with the right shirt or jacket, but not in bland colors or styles.


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Upscale attire implies high-quality materials and often designer labels as well. On the other hand, if an outfit appears to be appropriate to wear to work, it's likely not appropriate for upscale club attire.Cocktail attire and country club attire have various differences that aren’t large, but will lead to a more high-end outfit for upscale events. Women, slip on a little black dress and men find your best leather shoes and menswear pieces, and you’re ready.