Corporate Event Dress Code: How to Decide What’s Right

Part of organizing a corporate event involves deciding what you want the event to look like. This includes choosing a venue and, depending on the event, decorating or furnishing the space so it’s appropriate for your purpose. Choosing a dress code is also part of this process because what people wear also contributes to how the event looks and feels. How do you go about choosing the right corporate event dress code?

What’s the Point of Choosing a Dress Code?

Setting a dress code for a corporate event is useful for two reasons:

  1. It’s the easiest way to make sure everyone will be dressed appropriately for the occasion. If the event is an evening awards banquet, a black-tie dress code ensures everyone wears formal attire. On the other hand, if your corporate event is a family-friendly company picnic, anyone who shows up in formal dress is likely to have a terrible time. Setting a dress code ensures everyone wears clothes that are suitable for the activities they’ll be taking part in at the event.
  2. It’s helpful for the people who are attending the event. When the dress code is clearly stated, every attendee knows exactly what is expected of them. It’s easier to decide what to wear, and nobody has to worry about whether they’re dressed appropriately. And, again, by following the dress code, attendees can easily choose attire that’s suitable for whatever they’ll be doing at the event.

Dress Code Options for Corporate Events

Casual Dress Code

Casual is the no-dress-code dress code. When an event invitation or event website says “casual,” it means attendees can wear whatever they’re comfortable in—within reason, of course. Even if the dress code says casual, it’s still generally accepted that nobody’s going to show up in ripped jeans and flip-flops.

  • Jeans and a shirt, with sneakers or other casual footwear, is fine for a casual dress code.
  • Skirts or dresses are okay but should be dressed down, with minimal styling.
  • Avoid dress shoes and high heels.
Casual Dress Code

Business Casual

This is the least formal option for a corporate event dress code, but it’s important to remember that business casual does not mean everyday casual. The casual part just means it’s not required to wear a full suit and tie.

  • Casual pants such as chinos or khakis, with a polo or dress shirt, and sweater or vest
  • A simple skirt paired with a dressy top
  • Dress shoes, loafers, closed-toe flat shoes, or pumps with low heels

Business Formal

This is the most formal business attire. It typically means choosing darker solid colors and avoiding bright colors and patterns.

  • Navy or charcoal suit, with a light-colored dress shirt, tie, and optional pocket square
  • Dresses and skirt suits should be knee-length, with conservative color choices. Skirts should be paired with a collared blouse or shirt.
  • Shoes should be closed-toed, and any jewelry should be understated rather than flashy.
  • Avoid fabrics that are sparkly, shimmery, or neon.

Business Professional

A business professional dress code is similar to business formal, but is more flexible, as it’s not necessary to wear a complete suit.

  • Pants or a skirt, teamed with a collared shirt, a tie for men, and matching jacket or blazer
  • Conservative shoes, such as lace-ups or loafers, low-heeled pumps, or flats


When it comes to evening wear, there are no casual categories: It’s either formal, or less formal. The main thing that differentiates these categories is the length of women’s gowns.

  • For men, a dark suit with tie
  • Cocktail dresses are generally knee-length or just above the knee. Maxi gowns can also be appropriate for this category.
  • Dress shoes, heels, and open toes are all fine in this category.

Black Tie/Formal

Black tie is the most common option for formal evening wear.

  • Tuxedo with vest, tie, cummerbund, and cufflinks. The tuxedo should be black and the shirt white. The cummerbund and tie should match one another but don’t have to be black.
  • If it’s black-tie optional, men can wear a tuxedo or opt for a black suit with a white shirt and dark tie.
  • Dresses should be ankle- or floor-length.

How to Choose the Right Dress Code for Your Corporate Event

For most corporate events, you’ll have up to four possible dress code options: Four for daytime events and two or three for evening events. This makes it fairly easy to narrow down your options and pick what’s most appropriate for any given event.

For evening events: Generally, you’ll choose between business casual, semi-formal, and black tie. To choose the right dress code option, match the formality of the occasion with the dress code style. For instance:

  • For an evening networking session or an after-hours party during a week-long conference or trade show, go for business casual.
  • Holiday parties are typically business casual or semi-formal.
  • A sit-down banquet, awards dinner, or gala is usually a black-tie event.

For daytime events: At daytime events, it’s either casual dress or one of the three business options. The formality of the event and the activities people will participate in should dictate the dress code. For branded events, it may also depend on whether the event is representing a corporate brand or a non-corporate brand.

  • A company picnic or a day of team-building exercises will typically be casual dress.
  • Business casual and business professional are the norm at events such as trade shows, conferences, and networking sessions.
  • For events that represent a non-corporate brand, business casual is preferred.
  • When a corporate brand is hosting the event, it’s business professional or business casual, depending on the nature of the event.
  • For events that are strictly focused on business in a corporate or in-office setting (rather than off-site at a trade show, for instance), business professional is the way to go.
8 Signage and Venue

The Right Corporate Dress Code Matches Attire to Function

Getting the dress code right for a corporate event is a lot easier than it appears at first glance! Once you know what each kind of dress code entails, it’s usually a simple task to match an event to the appropriate dress code. Providing the level of formality matches the location and purpose of the event, it’s hard to go wrong.

Jack Connolly

Executive Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.


Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.


In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jerome Nadel

Chief Marketing Officer

Jerome Nadel is Internationally experienced design-led marketing executive (CMO and GM) with a track record of improved market position, revenue growth, and M&A. He is an advance degreed psychologist and user experience product/service design expert, board member and advisor.


Prior to joining ProGlobalEvents |ProExhibits |XtendLive, he has had a variety of chief marketing officer and chief user experience officer roles at companies including Rambus, BrainChip, Human Factors International, SLP InfoWare, Gemplus, and Sagem. He started his career in the IBM Human Factors Labs.


He is also an avid cyclist with National and multiple California State Champion titles.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler


Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.