Attire Guidance

Attire Guidance

The information contained herein is quoted from Social Usage and Protocol Handbook: A Guide for Personnel of the U.S. Navy (OPNAVINST 1710.7 dated 17 JUL 1979)

Very Formal occasions (White Tie). Occasionally, a very formal evening event (after 6:00 P.M.) will require full dress evening wear specified as “white tie”. This is very seldom worn except by flag officers or those in the diplomatic corps. When required, white tie is worn to evening dances, weddings, dinners, receptions, and on state occasions.

White Tie

  • Military: Formal dress uniform.
  • Civilian: Gentlemen wear a tailcoat with matching trousers, a white waistcoat, wing collared shirt and white bow tie.
  • Ladies wear very formal evening gowns.

Formal occasions.

Daytime. For a formal daytime function such as a wedding in which civilian gentlemen would wear cutaways, the following applies:
  • Military members of the party would wear the seasonally appropriate Service Dress Uniform.
  • Civilian ladies wear dresses appropriate to the occasion as styles dictate.
Evening. The attire specified for a formal evening function is “Black Tie”. This may be worn to formal events after 6:00 P.M. such as dimers, receptions,dances, or weddings.
  • Military: The seasonally appropriate Dinner Dress Jacket Uniform.
  • Civilian: Gentlemen wear dinner jackets or tuxedos.
  • Ladies wear formal evening gowns.
Ceremonial occasions. For Occasions of State, Ceremonies, and Solemnities, parades and reviews, military personnel participating wear the seasonally appropriate ceremonial uniform. In general, guests wear the seasomdly appropriate Service Uniform. Civilian men generally wear business suits and ladies wear a dress appropriate to the occasion, as styles dictate.
Informal occasions. Business and informal occasions in the afternoon such as luncheons, receptions or dinners will call for “Informal Attire”.
  • Military: The seasonally appropriate Service Dress Uniform.
  • Civilian: Gentlemen wear business suits and ladies wear afternoon dresses or for evening events, short dresses of a dressy material, long skirts or dresses or as current styles dictate.
Casual occasions. Casual functions such as picnics, barbeques, sporting events, etc., will call for “casual attire”.

A gentleman’s attire may range from an open collar shirt or sweater to a sports coat. Ladies wear slacks or casual skirts.
Miscellaneous. Retired military personnel, not on active duty, may wear the prescribed uniform to military functions as considered appropriate. Such occasions may include commissioning ceremonies, military weddings, or receptions in which military guests are expected to be in uniform.

The preceding guidelines are based on the protocol requirements of Washington, D.C. In other areas of the country, such as California or Hawaii, social occasions call for far less formal attire. When in doubt, inquire as to local custom.

For additional information on the composition of specific uniforms, refer to the current U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations.

The increased informality in modern day living dictates a wide latitude in apparel; therefore, guests should be encouraged to feel comfortable in whatever they choose to wear.