Most casinos have some kind of dress code - especially in the evenings. But even if you know your local casino has a "Casual" dress code, what does that even mean? This article will guide you through the ins-and-outs of what to wear to a casino, depending on what type of casino dress code it has.
Types of Casino Dress Codes
Before you visit any casino for the first time, it's worth checking their website to see what sort of dress code they have. If you are going to a specific event, then it may have its own dress code. Let's take a look at some of the common casino dress codes you might come across, from the most formal down to least.
White Tie is the most formal dress code - at a casino or anywhere else. However, it is very rare these days. It is also known as "Full evening dress". White tie is the sort of dress code used for Royal balls and the like. You are unlikely to need to wear White Tie to a casino unless there is some sort of special event going on.
If you do find yourself invited to a White Tie event, you will either need to hire an outfit or spend a lot of money on buying your own. White Tie is so formal that you have to get it exactly right.
Men wear a black tailcoat with a white shirt, white waistcoat and white bow-tie. High-waisted black trousers and black patent leather shoes complete the look.
Women should wear a full-length formal evening gown. They cannot wear shorter dresses or trousers. Long white gloves are also expected, along with the finest jewelry you can find. Tiaras are optional.
Black Tie is less formal than White Tie, but much more common - especially for "Casino Night" events held at venues other than casinos.
For men, Black Tie means a black tuxedo, a black bow tie, a white shirt and black leather shoes. A waistcoat or cummerbund is optional, but never both.
For women, it's an evening dress or skirt - unlike White Tie, the dress doesn't need to be full length. The dress doesn't need to be black - and women can wear trousers if they prefer.
Black Tie Optional
Black Tie Optional is essentially as formal as Black Tie, except if you don't have a tuxedo you can get away with a smart suit. Not everyone has a tux or wants to waste time and money hiring one.
The word "Optional" doesn't mean wear whatever you want, or wear a tuxedo without the tie. It means wear the traditional Black Tie ensemble if you can - but if you can't, you should dress up as smartly as possible.
This means a dark suit, dark shoes, a white shirt and a conservative tie. Essentially you are recreating the formal vibe of Black Tie, with a similar color-scheme.
Women should pretty much wear what they would for Black Tie. You can definitely lean toward less-formal though if you want - for example shorter cocktail dresses.
A Semi-Formal casino dress code is also known as Smart Formal, and it's pretty much what you would expect - smart, but not as smart as Black Tie.
Essentially it's like the "Optional" part of Black Tie Optional - as smart as you can be without being Black Tie. Men wear dark business suits and conservative shirts and ties. Women wear cocktail dresses and jewelry.
This is the first dress code on the list that you will find at a casino during ordinary hours rather than special events. It will only be the most exclusive, high-end places though. Casinos with this strict dress code usually offer jacket and tie hire for guests who have come underdressed - although women don't have that option!
A Business Formal dress code at a casino means wear what people wear to work in client-facing city jobs, such as banking or corporate law. Or alternatively, what you'd wear to a job interview for a white-collar job you really want!
For men, that's basically the same as Semi-formal - that is smart suits and ties. You have a bit more leeway with the colors but don't go wild.
For women, Business Formal is a bit different, as you aren't restricted to evening dresses and instead can wear smart jackets over blouses, and either pencil skirts or smart work pants. Don't overdo it with the jewelry and accessories though.
Business Casual casino attire is basically what most people wear to the office - it's smart, but not as formal as a suit and tie. You can dress down a little - but not too much!
Men should wear smart trousers, but can get away with wearing a sweater instead of a jacket. Very smart jeans are also acceptable, but t-shirts and sneakers should be avoided. Keep the colors neutral.
Women have quite a bit of latitude in what they wear compared to some of the more formal dress codes. Blouses, sweaters and smart skirts or trousers are the name of the game. Shoes should be fairly conservative - you can wear heels if you want but otherwise go for closed-toe shoes. As with Business Formal, jewelry and accessories should be muted.
The Casual casino dress code is both the most common dress code and the most confusing. Casual doesn't mean wear whatever you want - really it should be considered "Smart Casual". Think about what you might wear to go for dinner or drinks at a nice restaurant or cocktail bar. You don't want to dress up too much - but you should make a bit of an effort.
Men can get away with jeans and plain t-shirts and even sneakers if they are neat and clean. But really you want to wear slacks, a buttoned shirt and leather shoes.
For women, acceptable Casual casino clothing is more defined by what you can't wear that what you must wear. Don't wear anything dirty, ripped or too revealing. It's always worth checking because some places do not consider t-shirts and sneakers to be acceptable casino apparel.
What you can get away with also depends on the time of day - most casinos get a lot stricter after 6pm.
Just remember that restaurants, clubs and bars within the casino may well have stricter dress codes than the floor, so you may find you are able to gamble but not enjoy some of the amenities.
Casino Attire: FAQ
Answers to the most common questions on how to dress to go to the casino.
Why do casinos have a dress code?
Casinos have dress codes for a number of reasons. First of all, they started out as exclusive places for the nobility, who were expected to dress a certain way. Although things have got less formal and more democratic over the years, casinos still want to retain some of their high-end reputations.
Let's be honest: gambling can be very seedy if not done right. Casinos want to set themselves apart from underground gambling dens, high street bookies, and slot machine arcades. Going to the casino is not just about getting a gambling fix - it should be an experience like going to the theatre or a nice restaurant.
How to find out a casino dress code?
You can find out a casino dress code by going on their website or by giving their front desk a call. If you aren't sure about anything it's always worth checking - you don't want to get turned away!
What is the difference between black tie and white tie?
The main difference between White Tie and Black Tie is that White Tie is much more formal - you need to wear a tailcoat, not a tux - and your bow-tie (and waistcoat, if you wear one) should be white. White Tie trousers are higher-waisted than those of Black Tie. Women can only wear long evening gowns with White Tie, but with Black Tie they can branch out a bit into shorter dresses.
Where to buy casino clothes?
Where you should buy clothes you need a casino visit depends on how formal the dress code is. With White Tie and Black Tie, you are going to need a specialist gentleman's outfitter or a high-end ladies' fashion store, which will be very expensive. Alternatively, you can hire the clothes you need, or look into getting them second hand. With less dressy codes, such as Semi-Formal or Casual, you have many more options - just make sure the clothes are clean and neat - and fit you properly.
What not to wear to a casino?
You should never wear loungewear or sportswear to a casino - even if they don't officially have a dress code you could still be denied entry. This includes things like tracksuits, loud t-shirts with slogans on them, sports jerseys, flip-flops, leggings, and bright sneakers.
You should also avoid dirty, torn, or revealing outfits. Manual workwear is another no-no.
Casino dress codes are there for a reason - they make going to the casino a nicer and more memorable experience for everyone. The last thing you want is to be turned away at the front door because you didn't check the dress code before you went. And remember that Casual doesn't really mean casual! Dress smart, look good and feel good - and you'll have a great time!