Emily Post’s Guide to Female Dress Codes

A while back, I did a couple of articles going over the care of dress clothes for men. While doing the same for women is nigh impossible with all of the different fabrics out there (read those laundry labels ladies!), I did want to be able to give women a general guideline as to what to wear at certain events. Far too often T tells me of an event we need to attend, and when I ask what the dress code is, his reply is typically, “I dunno”. I can’t imagine that he is the only one that does this. Please remember that these are not hard and fast rules, just general ideas. If you are lucky enough to get a flyer or handout for an event, they will usually have the dress code on it somewhere.

If the event does have a stated dress code, these are the generally accepted options for women:

  • Casual- sundress, long or short skirt, khakis or nice jeans, shorts (depending on occasion), plain t shirt, polo short, turtleneck, casual button down blouse
  • Dressy casual- dress, skirt and dressy top, dressy pants outfit, nice jeans and dressy top
  • Buisness casual- skirt,khakis or pants, open collar shirt, knit shirt or sweater, dress
  • Business formal- suit, business style dress, stockings, heels
  • Festive attire (holidays)- cocktail dress, long dressy skirt and top, dressy pants outfit or seperates, little black dress
  • Semiformal- short afternoon or cocktail dress, little black dress, long dressy skirt and top, dressy seperates
  • Black  tie optional- floor length evening gown, dressy cocktail dress, little black dress, dressy seperates
  • Creative black tie- floor length evening gown, dressy cocktail dress, dressiest little black dress, fun or unique accessories

Masonic events give us a lot of excuses to go shopping for nice clothes. The best thing you can purchase for yourself is a little black dress. Here are some common Masonic events, and the general dress code for them.

Drinks at the Shrine- Some Shrines do not serve alcohol, but ours does. Because of that, it tends to be a popular after Lodge choice to hang out, and because of the prices, often more than that. This definetly tends to be a come as you are kind of place. Jeans and a tshirt are more than acceptable. I wouldn’t recommend less than that (pajamas and the like) simply because it can damage respect from the older generation. However, if you want to dress up more than that, no one would think any different. The Shrine bar is a popular choice for many members of various Masonic organizations, so you may be in jeans while the next table over just got done with an installation in tuxes.

Picnics and Fun Nights-  Jeans and a nice shirt is usually a safe bet. Some people will wear t shirts, while others will be in kahkis. Try to dress best for the activity. You don’t want to wear high heels to go bowling, but you might want to if there is a group pub crawl going on.

Lodge Meeting or Lodge Dinner- This is the one that will have the largest variation Some Lodges feel that blue jeans are acceptable for a business meeting, others wear full tuxedoes for everyone. If you are there for social hour or Lodge dinner before a business meeting, you will want to dress close to the level of dress that your Mason does, perhaps slightly less as you probably will not be spending too much in the Lodge room. If you aren’t sure, dress nicer than you think you should, and then decide for next time based on what other women are wearing. (See below)

Chapter  (OES) or Temple (Daughters of the Nile)-  This one can be a bit tricky. Many Grand Chapters have a rule stating that members cannot wear pants, although this is beginning (finally) to be removed. This rule tends to hold true in Daughters, however. If you hold an office, your Worthy Matron or Queen will probably have some kind of uniform for you; this ranges from a black skirt and white top to a full sequined outfit. If you ever aren’t sure, wear a dress. The more conservative, the better.

Specialty Lodge Dinner- Sometimes Lodges will have special event meals instead of, or in addition to a meeting that week. Examples include Ladies at the Table, Table Lodge, special dinners for Holidays, and fundraisers. Usually for these events you will want to at least wear khakis or other dress pants and a blouse. If it’s a BBQ and pig roast however, jeans and a nice shirt would be fine.

Installations & Initiations- Both for installations and iniations you will want to wear a dress. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, your favorite dress will suffice. If you are the one being iniated, you will want to wear comfortable shoes, preferably flats and not heels, espically for an installation into the Order of the Eastern Star. There can be a lot of walking.

Weekday Event- Assuming it is an evening event, you will proabably want to wear a skirt and blouse or your favorite dress. You don’t need to get really fancy about it, but feel free if you want to. Expect to see a lot of sequins from the older crowd.

Weekend Event- This is the time to dress up. You should wear at least a dress, preferably something longer, floor length if you are in the mood and have it available. Heels are a must if you can manage it. If not, look for wedges or platforms. Target is a great place for last minute shoe buying.

Dances- Always wanted to look like a princess? This is the time. Many women will get their hair and makeup done professionally, and get a special gown just for the occasion. Yes, you read that right, gown. If you aren’t sure where to look for clothes, many department stores will have what you need. Think less poofy prom dress, and more sleek Vanna White gown. You will wear it more than once, I promise.

Grand Lodge-Take all of these suggestions, cram them into a suitcase, and that is what you need to bring to Grand Lodge. Everything from jeans to ball gowns will be worn in a single weekend. Be sure to try and get some comfortable shoes, because there are numerous cocktail hours, and they are usually standing room only. Moleskin will be your friend.

Again, this is a general guideline. Sometimes you will have no idea what the dress code may be. What you can do instead is dress in a similar way to your Mason. Unless it is a women’s event (OES, Daughters of the Nile, etc.), the women tend to dress less nice than the guys. If it is a women’s event, the reverse is true.

If he wears:

  • Jeans- you wear jeans and a nice shirt.
  • Dress pants/khakis and a dress shirt, without tie- you wear khakis or other dress pants, and a nice blouse, or khakis and a collared shirt, or, a blouse and a skirt
  • Dress pants/ khakis and a dress shirt, with tie- you wear a blouse and skirt, or a short dress (knee length or similar)
  • Suit with jacket- you wear a blouse and skirt, or a short dress (knee length or similar), or a long dress
  • Tuxedo- you wear a long dress or a women’s suit (usually you will see the older generation wearing this)

 The bottom line of all Masonic events is dress nicer than you think you need to, and dress more conservatively than you think you need to. Following this has never steered me wrong. Sexy dress is not the place for Masonic events. Just don’t do it. Please remember that these are just general guide lines that follow what I have found to be true for Masonic events. Your Lodge or jurisdiction may always wear jeans, or always wear tuxedos. I’ve found, however, that most places fall somewhere inbetween.

6 thoughts on “Emily Post’s Guide to Female Dress Codes

  1. Pingback: Emily Post’s Guide to Female Dress Codes | Masoneria357

  2. Pingback: 2015: A Year With The Mason’s Lady | The Mason's Lady

  3. Thank you so much for this! My husband invited me to a Table Lodge that will be a 7 course meal. When I asked what I should wear, his reply was a dress. No clue what kind of dress. We are in New England and they tend to be a little more old fashioned so a black cocktail dress is what I will go for. So happy someone could answer this for me!

  4. My husband will be entering the Scottish rite and we will be going to our first event like this. The dress for him is black suit or tux I get that . What I don’t know is the event is on a Saturday Nov 12 at 2pm, the attire is black tire or suit doe he come dressed for the occasion at 2 . I will be going to a program for the ladies with a speaker . Do we show up there at two in the afternoon in evening gown and suit? We are new and I’m trying to keep from embarrassing ourselves. Being its the 150th anniversary will men be more in tuxes or suits?Thanks for you help I’m so glad you are out there to guide us. Andrea

    • I would check with the organizer, but I would imagine there would be time to change before dinner. Did they send an itinerary? I can’t say for certain, so please be sure to send them an email. Since it’s the 150th celebration, I would guess more tuxes. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

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