Dress code

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Many social, academic, and professional events at Columbia require some standard of dress. Conversely, many Columbia underclassmen have absolutely no idea what constitutes an appropriate standard of dress. This article attempts to provide some guidelines.

Guidelines for use

These guidelines are ranked in their order of formality. On most occasion without clear directives (e.g. "black-tie optional" or "business formal recommended"), it is usually acceptable to wear attire one level further up the hierarchy (business casual to a casual function, business formal to a business casual function). However, be careful. If a job networking function specifically says business casual, and you show up in a suit, you will instantly be labeled a major tool / gunner. Likewise, if you show up to the Columbia College Senior Dinner in black tie, you will probably be mistaken for one of the servers. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. However, never violate clear directives.



Anything. Just don't go with shorts and a t-shirt. A collared short-sleeved shirt is OK. Appropriate occasions: class, parties, walking around campus, anything that doesn't require anything more formal.

Business casual / semiformal

Long-sleeved collared button-down shirt and dress pants or khakis. Tie is optional; mostly unnecessary. Matching socks and dress shoes. Appropriate occasions: job networking functions, meals with faculty, most jobs, being a bureaucrat in Iran.

Business formal / business professional

Collared dress shirt. Tie. Jacket with matching trousers. Matching socks and dress shoes. Pocket square is optional and heading out of fashion. Appropriate occasions: job interviews, meetings with Deans for the purpose of discussing disciplinary infractions, some jobs (such as finance).

Formal / black tie

Tuxedo with tuxedo shirt and matching trousers. Bow tie or ascot. Pocket squares recommended. Cummerbund and / or suspenders are optional. Waistcoat and wing collars are also optional. Matching socks and patent leather shoes. Appropriate occasions: formal dinners, formal dances, opening season at the opera, Senior Ball, fraternity formals, John Jay Award dinners, etc.

White tie

If you are a Columbia student and you have to go to a white tie event, then either you are studying abroad at Oxford or Cambridge. Or you are a member of St. A's. Or you are a serious tool. Or you are serious old money and already know what you are doing and have no business reading this entry. But for reference, white tie includes a formal tailcoat, an actual white bow-tie, stiff front shirts, a wing collar, and possibly a white waistcoat. Silk stockings apparently are also required.


Women can #*(@& get away with anything.