People still wear cummerbunds

When was the last time you received an invitation with a dress code? Behind the term dress code or dress code is the host's wish for a certain clothing of the guests. If a dress code is given with the invitation, guests and hosts should dress accordingly. We live in a modern society that is widely accepted and in which dress codes are given less and less. A dress code is often given for a formal event where it is not a matter of course for the guests what clothing is appropriate. A dress code should make it easier for guests to make the right choice of clothes. It also prevents improperly dressed visitors from feeling uncomfortable when everyone is staring at them. When specifying a dress code, you should express yourself specifically and use established terms, otherwise the meaning of a dress code will be lost if it is not understandable for the guests. Normally you don't describe the desired clothing of the guests down to the last detail. A dress code usually describes an abstract level of clothing and leaves the visitor some leeway for interpretation.

For informal occasions in the established circle of friends, a dress code is rarely given. If nothing is written about clothing in the invitation, then you are on the safe side in accordance with the old tradition with chic evening wear - but everyone has to decide for themselves.

Some dress codes have been established for a long time. But even these established dress codes are repeatedly influenced by changing fashion trends. The following dress codes are numbered from 1 to 5. If you know how to dress with these dress guidelines, you no longer need to fear an event.

1. Tailcoat (evening wear)

If evening attire or “white tie” is given as the dress code on the invitation, show up perfectly dressed to the teeth. Here it is definitely a question of dressing correctly. You definitely wear a black tailcoat with a matching white vest and white bow tie. Depending on the occasion, a military uniform can also fit. Whether medals are worn is usually stated separately in the invitation. If you don't have a tailcoat in your closet, you should borrow one. When specifying this dress code, it is not welcome if guests appear in tuxedos or dark suits. Certain occasions allow regional costumes in a festive version as an alternative. You shouldn't wear a wristwatch. The missing wristwatch can, however, be replaced by a gold pocket watch so that you know when it's time to go home.

If “civilian evening attire” is given as the dress code, then uniforms are excluded. If “tailcoat” is actually given as the dress code, regional costumes cannot be worn either. As a special variant of this dress code, there is also the academic evening wear. Here the man wears a tailcoat with a black vest.

2. Tuxedo

Number 2 of our dress code is indicated on invitations with a tuxedo or “black tie” and follows the “tailcoat” as a slightly less formal evening dress. Tuxedos are generally not worn at events before 5 p.m. This dress code allows a black or dark blue tuxedo - preferably with a bow tie and a silk envelope on the jacket and silk stripes on the trousers. A tuxedo can also be worn with a so-called cummerbund. The tuxedo wears stockings and patent leather shoes. Well-groomed, thin black shoes can be worn as an alternative. The pants are worn by black or white suspenders. Traditionally, a white shirt is recommended with a tuxedo. Usually with the classic turn-down collar, the tuxedo shirt is also available with a wing collar. This is sometimes referred to as a "parricide". Unfortunately, we do not know where this name comes from. The tuxedo shirt has cufflinks on the flap and a concealed button placket. There are many alternative options for the shirt surface. This can be completely smooth, with lengthways or crosswise pleats or ruffles. Shirts with a chest made of starched cotton piqué can also be worn. Ordinary white shirts, however, are not very popular. A white tuxedo, on the other hand, is usually only worn in warmer latitudes. There mostly only at events that take place outdoors or on a boat. A tailcoat or a dark suit are not recommended if the dress code is tuxedo.

3. Dark suit (officially business)

Third place, and a little less festive than the tuxedo, is the suit. Don't get confused, we're still talking about looking chic and festive! For this dress code, we recommend choosing a dark gray, dark blue or black suit. Traditionally, however, jet black suits have tended to be reserved for funerals or board meetings. A pure white or pastel-colored shirt is worn with the suit. To match, a tie or bow tie of any color is required, which can be patterned. If the shirt is colored, the color of the tie must of course be matched exactly. Black or white ties are taboo. Dark shoes are worn with the suit.

4. Jacket, earlier meaning

This somewhat older dress code is used less often on invitations. If you think you can only wear a jacket with jeans with this dress code, you are unfortunately wrong. Here, too, men are expected to wear a complete, dark suit including trousers. The darker the suit the better. Although this dress code is seen as less restrictive and ranks fourth, all guests can be expected to be elegantly dressed. Depending on the occasion, there is a relatively large number of options for the suit. There are also almost no restrictions on ties or bow ties. Colored shirts are allowed. However, white shirts look a lot nicer.

4. Jacket, current meaning

Nowadays, if a jacket is part of the dress code, male guests are expected to appear in full suits. However, it doesn't necessarily have to be a dark suit. Bright suits are perfect for summer weddings. Suit trousers are not necessarily required for casual occasions. Shirt and tie are definitely included.

5. Business casual

The least restrictive dress code on our dress code. You like to dress chic and elegant but simple. Cloth trousers, polo shirts, colored shirts or vests are absolutely fine, just like a casual jacket. Jeans, on the other hand, are taboo. A tie does not necessarily have to be worn. After 6 p.m., the shoes can also be brown.


Additional dress codes that may appear on invitations

Small formal suit or Stresemann

This dress code sounds old-fashioned and is rarely used. It describes a special “evening dress” that can be worn from mornings to afternoons. The small formal suit originally comes from England and has actually never really caught on in Germany. As mentioned, the Stresemann is only worn until 3:00 p.m. However, it is not uncommon to wear the suit later at a wedding or christening. The Stresemann is a suit consisting of a tight, single-breasted black or gray jacket and matching black and gray striped trousers. The gray suspenders and white or mother-of-pearl-colored buttons are also striking.

The corresponding, anthracite-colored vest, on which the lower button is left open, must not be missing, nor a tie or plastron. The tie should be dark in color. If a plastron is worn instead, it should only have a gray pattern. The plastron needle should preferably be mother-of-pearl or gold. Anyone wearing a tailcoat shirt should tie around a plastron. You can wear a nice tie with a normal white shirt. If you are invited to a wedding and you wear the small formal suit, please note the following rule. If the groom does not wear a plastron, all other guests are not allowed to wear a plastron, as the plastron is more festive than the tie. If the groom wears a plastron, other guests may wear a less festive plastron or alternatively wear a shirt with a tie.

Neatly dressed

With this requirement it is unfortunately not entirely clear how one should dress. Therefore, this dress code should actually be avoided. In practice, unfortunately, “properly dressed” still appears quite often as a dress code. In any case, it is certain that you should not show up with broken, worn or dirty clothes. Casual clothing, work clothing, sandals or training shoes should also be avoided. For some, jeans don't come under “properly dressed”. Others find jeans okay if they are clean and not torn or drooping. Normally you shouldn't wear shorts either.

Optional clothing

If optional clothing is given as the dress code, you as a guest can really wear what you want.

Dress specifications for parties and other festive occasions


Most couples know their circle of friends very well and then decide how the guests should dress for the wedding celebration (see above).

Inviolable - only the bride is allowed to wear something bright white to the wedding. Individual white elements that are not too dominant are fine. Of course, you shouldn't wear mourning clothes at a wedding. Even in bereavement, joy should rule during the wedding celebration.

At a wedding it is always allowed to wear regional costumes, regardless of the dress code. Don't forget - wearing traditional costumes is otherwise only permitted if tailcoat has been specified as the dress code. Always remember - the headgear is removed inside. If the wedding takes place outdoors, the headgear is also removed there.


At a funeral, male guests wear a dark suit with a black tie and a white shirt. A white tie (still with a white shirt) is only worn by male visitors who are close to you. This includes sons, brothers or very close friends. Ties that can be worn at a funeral include Notch Gino or Notch Ozzy. A white tie for the funeral is e.g. Notch Jarmo.

In rare cases, light-colored clothing can be made as a dress code for the funeral. This is not uncommon at children's funerals, for example. Of course, black clothes should not be worn in such a case. A blue or gray suit with a white shirt can then be the right clothing for men for this sad occasion. A gray or dark blue (but not a black) tie is worn with this.


A graduation or award of a degree to a student is an event that is open to the public. For this reason, there is no special dress code. All colors including black are allowed.

Restaurant visit

For a long time it was unthinkable to visit a posh restaurant without dressing up properly. Even now there are still some exclusive restaurants where ties are compulsory or where it is not welcome when men show up without suits. However, with the emergence of bar and club culture in Germany over the past few decades, many rules have relaxed. Most restaurants no longer have a dress code. If you don't want to go wrong, book a table beforehand and find out whether there is a valid dress code. Regardless of whether there is a dress code or not, you never go to fine restaurants with shorts and sandals. Most people should already be familiar with this rule from their vacation. Instead, wear long pants, a shirt and normal shoes (no sneakers). Everyone has to decide for themselves which restaurant is fine and elegant. In any case, the prices provide a good starting point. The better the location, the more expensive the food and the more exclusive the wine list, the higher the demands on the clothing of the visitors.


Dress codes differ from country to country and culture to culture. It is best to ask someone from the local population to find out whether there are any differences. Anyone invited to someone's home or to an official event can ask the host what to wear. If you can't ask anyone, you can only rely on common sense. Take a look at how the local people dress. However, keep in mind that there are cultural and religious reasons for wearing certain clothes and therefore should not be worn by a tourist. As a stranger in another country, show common sense, respect, and consideration.

As a tourist you are a guest in other countries and thus become the unofficial representative of your own country. Who wants to go through Germany and Germans abroad as unwanted bullies just because some cannot behave properly.

Also, there's no reason not to stick to dress codes just because other guests don't either. For example, in some countries it is disrespectful and impolite to keep wearing sunglasses when entering a room. Of course, this does not apply to the blind or visually impaired who have to wear dark glasses. You can usually recognize such people by a white hat or because they are being led.

Headgear is usually removed when entering a room. An exception are designer hats for women, which are usually only worn on certain occasions.