Dress Code Decoded 101.

You know when you get an invitation in the mail for a party and then you quickly scan to the bottom to see what the dress code is, and then realize, UGH…I have nothing to wear! Or, just the opposite…you have plenty to wear, but aren’t sure what item in your wardrobe coincides with the dress code. Then you pick up the phone, and call, or text your BFF to find out what they’re wearing to the event, only to find out that she doesn’t have a clue either. Ha! You might be in need of Dress Code Decoded 101.

It’s funny,  even though we’ve both personally been off of the whole black tie attire, wedding circuit for a while now, we are always helping clients decode the dress code for their upcoming events. We get to live vicariously planing all the outfit details for these affairs. But lately, we’ve been itching to get all glammed up ourselves… And then,  Hallie was  invited to the American Heart Association’s 23rd Annual Cleveland Heart & Stroke Ball  – June 10. 2017 at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. Ummm, YAY!! What a good excuse to get all dressed up and support a worthwhile cause at the same time. Pretty lucky, right?

Well, let’s first give you the deets on HOW TO DECODE THE DRESS CODE and then we will give you the specifics of the Heart Ball so you can have an excuse to get all dressed up too…

What Does The Invite Say?

Alright, the invitation says Black Tie. That means the men need to be in tuxedos, and the ladies will need a fancy schmancy long gown, with simple sparkly jewelry. Simple enough, right?

Black Tie Optional means a little less formal than Black Tie. It’s perfectly acceptable for a man to be in a black suit, and black shoes rather than having to be in a penguin suit. If your sidekick opts for that route, then standing next to him in a long gown might feel sorta awkward. Instead, opt for a formal dress that hits slightly above the knee.

Cocktail Attire is our favorite. It’s by far the most fun. Men can wear a dark suit, either navy or black, and a dark shoe. That means a little more fun for your outfit too. A LBD (little black dress) is always perfect with some cool accessories. Or, if you can find a dress that has a little sparkle that says cocktail all the way.

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Where to go? And what to get?

How easy was that! Simple right? But, of course we had to do a little pre-shopping of our own for the occasion.

So…we went to Lisa Moran at Eton. It’s one of our go-to places for special occasion clothes in the CLE. But take note, this isn’t the Mother Of The Bride store that you might think it is. They have tons, and tons of options no matter the dress code.  Go in and take a look. Tell them that the girls from TWC sent you.

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Too many good options. So, we’re asking for your help to decide…

Which one is your favorite??? PLEASE, LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS…

Black Tie Ready Dresses

  1. Can’t beat the simplicity of this dress – straight lines with jewelry built in.  We weren’t sure about it on the hanger (it looked a lot blingy when off) but it was really comfortable and gets two thumbs up once on.


2. The mesh overlay gives this dress an added dimension, literally. And, it’s bra friendly (which is not always easy to find in formal attire).


3. A stretch lace gown that comes in a variety of colors…


4. Feel like this one is channeling Pippa Middleton from Princess Kate’s wedding.


5. The fabric and silhouette makes this one feel like an old school black tie gown but, the pattern, colors, and little belt, make it feel modern.Decoding-the-dress-code-black-tie-gown-wayne-clark-floral


For those of you not in the #216, we’ve rounded up some fabulous gowns from around the web…

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Black Tie Optional, it’s Your Option.


6. The colors in this dress scream spring and summer AND it has pockets – the holy grail of dresses and skirts.


7. The length on this beauty makes it really versatile (and easy to dance in too)


8. This feels very classic, even a bit retro but in a very 2017 way.



Some black tie optional options…


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Cocktail Fun and Flair

9. A true LBD (little black dress) Glam it up with jewels and shoes.


10. This one is pretty in the front…


and wowza in the back…


LBD and Cocktail fun…

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Let’s Party AHA Style.

Now that you know what to wear and where to get it, we have just the event for you. The American Heart Association is having their annual Heart Ball on June 10, 2017. It’s a black tie event. (And now you know just what that means.) Hallie’s going, and you can too. It’s at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. Cocktails begin at 6pm, and dinner will be served at 7:30pm.  At 9:30pm the event will conclude and the “after” event will begin. What a fun night to support a really good cause that’s near and dear to the heart. (Pun intended.)

For event details and to purchase tickets click here

Since,  you’ve passed Dress Code Decoded 101, now you’ll have to let us know if you want the 200 and 300 courses… there we decode things like creative cocktail, country club chic and dress to impress. The list is endless…Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll get on it.Hallie & Elana Signaturedisclaimer

(Photography by Molly Nook)


Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.


  1. I like 2,5,6 & 8 on you Hallie. Would love to see your take on the other, more vague dress codes that are often used.

  2. Love your blog Hallie. Always so much fun and informational, and you look gorgeous in everything.

  3. michele lee Reply

    For a black tie event 2 & 5 ( I know I included another on instagram but I think these two are exceptional!) Please let us know what you decide!!

  4. Pingback: Citrus Social » Citrus Hearts AHA

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