As a guest at a casino, you’re expected to dress a certain way. Not only should you honor the casino’s request that you dress a certain way, but you should do so out of respect for the other gamblers in the casino. While not every casino has a specific dress code, more and more gambling venues are requiring that guests wear certain items of clothing.
This is especially true at higher-end casinos. The word “casino” means different things to different people. Some casinos are hallowed halls of gambling, marble and dark wood-paneled cathedrals to classical European games of chance. Others are little more than roadside convenience stores with a few aisles of slot and video poker machines. Clearly, the dress codes at these two venues will be vastly different.
If you want to fit in, feel comfortable, and impress the other guests on your next casino visit, this ultimate guide to casino dress codes was prepared with you in mind. We start by covering the basics of the various attire categories you’re likely to come across. We’ve included a section on the clothing items that every gambler should have in their wardrobe.
This is a special category of formal-wear, sometimes called Full Evening Dress. It’s considered the most formal style of dress in all of Western fashion. The history of Full Evening Dress goes back to the late 1700s, as men abandoned their breeches, flowing blouses, and multi-colored topcoats in favor of a style of dress more recognizable by today’s standards. Strangely enough, this new “minimalist” style of formal wear was styled after the notion of “the country gentleman.” In essence, when you dress for a White Tie event, you’re dressing up as an 18th century hick.
These days, White Tie dress is limited to things like state dinners, royal events, major prize ceremonies, and the occasional formal party. You’re not likely to find a casino that requires White Tie formal dress – but you might find yourself invited to a private event at a casino that requires it.
For men, attending a White Tie event is a little more complicated. Men are expected to wear:
- A black dress coat with tails and a matching pair of trousers.*In the US, the trousers must have one satin stripe down the legs; in Europe (including in the UK), the pants should have two stripes of satin or braid down the legs.
- A white shirt with wing collars and a stiff front.
- Shirt studs and cufflinks.
- A white vest and white bow tie.
- White or gray gloves.
- Black patent leather shoes with black dress socks.
Black Tie is another style of formal dress, a rung below White Tie, but still very formal. The invention and popularization of the dinner jacket in the 1880s was the first big change in men’s fashion in more than a century. The jacket that we’d recognize today as a tuxedo was then considered a relaxed style of dress. Compared to the ridiculous restraints of White Tie dress, a tuxedo is a pretty simple set of garments.
Black Tie is only worn to events after 6 PM, by tradition. The style of dress is sometimes called “semi-formal,” to honor the vast difference between Black Tie and White Tie. We want to emphasize, however, that it’s still an incredibly formal style of dress compared to casual or semiformal styles. The history of Black Tie is fascinating in part because it was spurred on by The Great War. The end of that war had a relaxing influence on just about everything, even men’s fashion.
For men, Black Tie requires:
- A white dress shirt.
- A black bow tie.
- An evening waistcoat or a cummerbund.
- A dinner jacket of black or midnight blue wool.
- Black Oxford-style or patent leather dress shoes.
Take note that if you’re on a cruise, in the tropics, or outside in the summer, most experts recommend that you change your Black Tie affair accordingly: you should wear a white dinner jacket, along you’re your traditional black tuxedo trousers and the rest of your black tie wardrobe.
How likely are you to have to wear Black Tie dress to a casino? If you’re touring Europe, planning to stop in at a place like the Casino Monte-Carlo, you’re very likely to need Black Tie clothing. If you’re attending certain VIP events at the big casinos of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, you may be asked to dress Black Tie. In other words, it’s not totally out of the question.
Black Tie Optional
“Black Tie Optional” is a common dress code request for events like weddings and receptions. It’s a relatively-new term of art for the fashion industry. It basically means “you can wear a tuxedo if you want, but if you don’t own one and don’t want to rent one, just dress as formally as you can.”
We’ll admit right out front that we don’t know of many casinos that advertise themselves as “Black Tie Optional,” though we’ve been to many events that listed the designation. Most of the details of Black Tie Optional are identical to the information in the Black Tie section above, except that you have the right to skip out on some of the more formal aspects if you’d prefer.
For men, the Black Tie Optional dress code means you can choose to follow the Black Tie guidelines above, or you can dress down a bit, wearing:
- A dark suit
- A white dress shirt
- A conservative tie
- Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks
The lesson here is that even when you can’t dress fully formal, you should still try to blend in. Notice the emphasis on the dark suit, the white shirt, and a tie that doesn’t call too much attention to itself. Thankfully, these days, Black Tie Optional has been pretty much replaced by terms like “semiformal” and “business casual,” which are a bit easier to follow.
For events with a level of protocol between informal and formal, the “semiformal” category was invented. Since many morning events are by nature less formal, it’s common for events that take place before noon to follow this style of dress. Thankfully, semi formal attire is the same regardless of the time of day.
Men’s semi formal wear is also pretty close to what we’d consider appropriate attire for an evening at a nice casino, even if they ask for formalwear. It includes:
- A dark business suit.
- A matching vest.
- A dress shirt of a conservative color.
- A conservative tie.
- Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks.
You won’t probably see the word “semiformal” listed as a casino’s dress code. You’re more likely to see the word “formal,” and, if pressed, the conditions of that dress code would closely match what we’ve just laid out here. So long as the woman is wearing a dress or a dressy skirt, and the man is wearing a tie and a suit, you’ll get in the door.