What Clothes Are Appropriate When Gambling (And Which Clothing Is Inappropriate)

by Michael Stevens
on October 21, 2018
12

Minute Read

Movies like Ocean’s Eleven, Casino, Casino Jack, and Leaving Las Vegas always show casino patrons as wearing tuxedos or expensive suits and evening gowns.

But is that really how you need to dress when you go to a casino?

The answer is, it depends. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how you should dress when you go to bet at a casino, and today I hope to clarify what you should wear and when you should wear it when you go to a casino.

Deciphering the Terms

When going to a casino, you may encounter terms like “business casual” or just plain “casual” for dress expectations. While many people have encountered these terms before, there is varied understanding as to what they mean. To help with this, we have come up with a guide for a better understanding.

Casual Dress

This is the more common dress code for casinos. Casual dress usually allows for jeans and a collared shirt with sneakers or comfortable walking shoes. The idea behind this is that casinos are part of the hospitality industry and those who run them, realize that the more comfortable you are the more likely you are to spend money. And while they do want you to be comfortable, there are limits. Casual dress would not include shorts, logo t-shirts or flip-flops in most cases.

There is a caveat to this, however. While casual dress may be acceptable for most of the casino, there may be areas where it is not. These could include bars, VIP rooms, and poker rooms. If you are planning from going to the main casino into one of these sections, it is best to check ahead to see if there are any special requirements.

Some examples of casual dress include:

  • Nice jeans (no tears, patches, or signs of wear etc.)
  • Slacks
  • Polo Shirt
  • T-Shirts without logos in good condition (much like the jeans, no tears or signs of wear)
  • Mid-length or longer skirt or dress
  • Sneakers, walking shoes or loafers

Business Casual Dress

A step up from casual, business casual is common in office settings and can be someone hard to determine for some people. In a business casual environment, men do not need to wear blazers or ties and women do not need to worry about wearing hosiery.

In a business casual setting, despite not having to wear a tie, men should not have more than the top button of their shirt unbuttoned. As for women, cleavage should not be exposed and legs from the knee upward should be covered.

Two questions to ask yourself when trying to determine business casual:

  • If I was at work, would this outfit make clients/customers uncomfortable?
  • Would I get in trouble or get sent home for wearing this?

As for examples of business casual, there is a cross over from casual dress, but there are differences. For instance, jeans and t-shirts would not generally be considered business casual. Nor would sneakers fall under the business casual category. Here are some examples of business casual dress:

  • Button-down dress shirt
  • Polo shirt
  • Khaki pants
  • Slacks
  • Mid-length or longer skirt or dress
  • Blouse
  • Loafers

Business or Semi-Formal Dress

If you work in a professional office environment (a law office, a bank, or a doctor’s office, for example) then you are more than likely already accustomed to dressing in this manner. And to those of you who aren’t, have almost certainly been to an office environment where business dress was required for employees.

Semi-Formal dress used to be its own category, but in the last few decades has merged with business formal.

The rule of thumb is a suit, shirt, and tie for men, dress, pantsuit, knee length skirt or dress, blouse and hosiery for women. However, women do have the option of going for a bit more glamor in this category. For example, a cocktail dress or similar type outfit would fall into this category.

If you are going to a casino that requires business or semi-formal dress, here are some guidelines:

  • Business suit
  • Dress shirt
  • Tie
  • Dress shoes
  • Dark or Argyle socks
  • Pant suit
  • Mid-length skirt or dress
  • Blouse
  • Cocktail dress
  • Dress shoes

Black-Tie Optional Dress

If you’ve ever been to a fancy charity event, an awards ceremony or even some weddings, you may have encountered a black tie optional event. A black-tie optional dress code is a step above semi-formal. Just as the name implies that the preferred type of dress would be a tuxedo for men and an evening gown for women, it is not mandatory.

This type of dress code has grown more popular since the 1980s. To get a good idea of black tie optional events, you can watch red carpet events on television to see the diversity of outfits the stars wear. Some men may wear a nice suit and tie. Others may wear a traditional tuxedo. Still, others may wear something in between.

One common trend that has grown is the Mandarin no collar banded tuxedo shirt. These can either be worn as black tie or black tie optional and do not have the traditional tuxedo collar and are designed to be worn without a tie. While this would have been a huge faux pas several years ago and may have caused rejection from even a business dress or semi-formal event, they are now accepted in most circles as formal wear.

For a black-tie optional dress code, you can wear:

  • A tuxedo (dark color is preferred)
  • A business suit (blue or black)
  • A white dress shirt
  • Tie (either neck tie or bow tie preferably solid colored)
  • Evening Gown
  • Cocktail Dress
  • Hosiery
  • Leather shoes (same color as the suit for men)

Black Tie Dress

When we see popular or classic casino movies, they generally depict a black tie dress code. While most casinos do not have this as a requirement, in many it is still a tradition, especially after 6 pm. In general, a black tie dress code for men means a tuxedo.

For women, it’s a bit more flexible, but traditionally means evening gown, a wrap of some sort, gloves, and jewelry. This has changed over the last few decades and usually just encompasses the gown and jewelry. Sometimes even cocktail dresses and pant suits are worn depending on the woman’s preferences and style.

The great thing about dressing black tie is that since it is one of the more formal types of dress, you can usually access most of the amenities of the casino without encountering issues with violating the dress code. Bars, poker rooms or VIP rooms may have more formal requirements than the general casino and by dressing up, you can access these areas.

If you are dressing up for a black tie casino, then you’ll want to consider wearing the following:

  • A tuxedo (blue or black)
  • A dinner jacket (blue or black)
  • A black bow tie
  • A dress shirt
  • A waistcoat, vest or cummerbund
  • Evening gown
  • Cocktail dress
  • Ball gown
  • Hosiery
  • Dress Shoes (that match the tuxedo for men, evening shoes for women)
  • Elbow length gloves (for women)
  • Jewelry (for women)

Red-Tie Dress

While this is not a formal dress code of a casino, it may be a dress code of events within the casino. Red tie events are formal events that are done for charity. For example, a poker tournament that all process are going to a certain cause like fighting a disease or helping displaced persons.

Red tie is a formal dress code (but does not require anyone to specifically wear a “red-tie”. In these events, tuxedos and evening gowns are going be the most common way to dress. Being a charity event, these tend to bring out celebrities who may be a little eclectic in the way they dress, so some latitude from the standard black tie event may be encountered.

In essence, unless you are a celebrity, you may want to keep your wardrobe toned down for the event.

For women, richer and darker colors are recommended, black, blue, Kelly green, dark red, etc.

If you are going to a red tie event, you should consider the following items to wear:

  • A tuxedo (dark colors)
  • A bow tie
  • A dress shirt
  • A waistcoat, vest or cummerbund
  • Evening gown
  • Cocktail dress
  • Ball gown
  • Hosiery
  • Dress Shoes (that match the tuxedo for men, evening shoes for women)
  • Elbow length gloves (for women)
  • Jewelry (for women)

White-Tie Dress

This type of dress is limited to private events at casinos. This is the most formal type of dress and is quite strict. This is what you would see actors in a classic casino movie wearing.

White tie dress would also be referred to as “coat and tails” for men. While women would wear gloves as part of formal wear, in a white tie scenario, both men and women wear gloves. Men will also wear some jewelry and accessories such as cufflinks and shirt studs.

As for women, long evening gowns and gloves would be called for. Accessories like stoles and prominently worn jewelry would be optional.

For a white tie event, you should wear:

  • A coat and tails. Pants should have silk strips or braids on the side
  • A white bow tie
  • A white shirt
  • A white vest
  • Gloves (white or grey for men, color matching or white for women)
  • Long evening gown
  • Cuff links
  • Shirt studs
  • Hosiery (black socks for men)
  • Dress Shoes (that match the tuxedo for men, evening shoes for women)
  • Jewelry
  • Stole (for women)

Everyday Casinos

Not everyone is going to a 5-star casino in Monte Carlo, so you’ll mostly have to concern yourself with the dress code for US based casinos.

One of the most popular casinos in the US is WinStar World Casino and Resort on the border of Texas and Oklahoma in Thackerville, Oklahoma. They list their dress code as:

  • No sportswear or athletic wear
  • No Baggy or loose clothing
  • Clean and fashionable shoes required: no work boots, flip-flops or tennis shoes
  • No baseball caps, hoodies or bandanas
  • Special events may result in modification of the normal dress code, without prior notice
  • All dress code decisions made by club management are final

As you can see, it’s a casual dress code but they do not allow sneakers or baggy clothing. This is why it is important to go to the casino’s website and check what their dress code is or if they have changed it for the day you are going due to a special event.

Dressing to Gamble

The most important thing to do is dress comfortably. Even if it is a formal event, a comfortable fitting tux or dress and shoes are important. Making money decisions while worrying about how much pain your shoes are causing or how tight a cummerbund is not a wise choice.

As for me, I like the casual atmosphere. I tend to wear a nice pair of jeans and my lucky polo shirt (I always come out ahead when I wear my lucky shirt!) I like to wear sneakers when possible but I have some comfortable slip-on loafers I can wear if I need to.

Also, a lot of casinos are kept a bit on the cool side. It is wise to dress in layers so that if the temperature is not to your liking you can add or remove layers to make you more comfortable.

What Not to Wear

The most obvious things not to wear are items that violate the casino’s dress code. But there are some others that are recommended to avoid:

  • Neon colors
  • Sports or athletic wear
  • Hooded shirts/jackets
  • Neon colors
  • Items that light up (for instance shoes that have lights on the bottom)
  • Sheer clothing
  • Revealing clothing
  • T-Shirts
  • Baseball caps
  • Light colored suits (for men)
  • Light colored dress shoes (for men)

Conclusion

Dressing “to the 9s” can be fun for a casino trip, but is not usually necessary. Casinos want you to be comfortable and really the only time they want people dressed up is when there is a media spotlight on them or they attract a lot of celebrities.

In the US you’ll find most have a dress code similar to WinStar World Casino and Resort, but some will differ. For instance, a casino on the beach may allow shorts and flip flops, whereas a 5-star casino and resort in Las Vegas may require business casual or business attire.

Because every casino has different rules, check their website. If you are traveling outside the US to a casino, it is even more important. While a lot of European casinos have casual atmospheres, some in areas in Monte Carlo, for example, may require black tie.

No matter what your fashion choices are dress comfortably as possible and have fun with them.

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