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Nairobi, Kenya

A guide to dress codes for your important functions in Kenya

Posted On : October 11, 2020

Paul Oloo


Dress codes in Kenya can sometimes tend to get very complex and sophisticated.

You’ve been invited to a wedding and the wedding invitation has some weird dress code you’ve never encountered. And any attempts to google it to get a clear mental image have proved fruitless. Have no fear, King Sidney is here.

I’m going to give you a brief guide to dress codes for any important functions in Kenya. I’ll be brief. No lengthy unnecessary introductions about the history of dress codes. Simply the types of dress codes along with visual representations of each of the function dress codes.

Dress codes come in two categories.

  1. Old school dress codes
  2. New school dress codes.

Old school dress codes.

Old school dress codes are the dress codes established in the age of magazines back before social media existed. There are a number of them but for the sake of dressing up for an important function in Kenya, there are only a few relevant dress codes.

4 to be exact.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Black tie dress code.

black tie gala night dress code kenya

Ideal for gala night charity balls and formal dinner invitations. Black tuxedo, black tuxedo pants, and a bow tie. The pants do not strictly have to be the tuxedo pants with the satin stripe on the side. Formal black pants will do just fine. The shirt can be in a color of your choice. This is one of the more formal dress codes for important functions.

If they state strictly black-tie then you’ve got to keep the tuxedo as formal as possible. However, if they just say black tie and leave it at that, then that gives you the opportunity to go with the following dress code.

Creative black tie dress code.

creative black tie dress code kenya

One of my personal favorite dress codes. This is essentially black tie but with a creative tuxedo rather than the traditional tuxedo. This is a dress code that allows you to showcase your creativity and can really have you building your personal brand image in a powerful way.

Business casual dress code.

business casual dress code kenya

This is a dress code for business meetings where you are not required to wear a suit. Let me put it this way, it’s a casual suit so to speak. Neat pants, nice complimentary blazer with a clean shirt and shoes.

If khaki pants and a linen jacket are a bit too casual for your taste, here’s a slightly more ‘formal’ smart casual approach to the dress code. As seen in this best interview blazer for men post.

business casual dress code for men Kenya

Smart casual dress code.

smart casual dress code kenya

Ideal for country club gatherings and small family occasions. jeans, sneakers, possibly a t-shirt paired up with a nice blazer. For when you need to dress casually but still need to make a statement about just how stylish an individual you actually are.

That wraps up our old school dress codes. Let’s move on to the next category.

New school dress codes.

New school dress codes are interesting. Do you remember my opening paragraph about googling a dress code and not finding anything? If that happens, chances are you’re dealing with a new school dress code.

Unlike old school dress codes that are tried and true and accepted across the board, new school dress codes usually pull adjectives out of thin air to describe the look they’re hoping you will wear.

Here’s an example.

That’s an event poster by B-club in Nairobi Kenya. If you’ve never been to the place, you should make a point of visiting it. It’s a lovely place. A true luxury experience.

Anyway, the dress code is smart elegant. That’s 2 adjectives that mean the same thing. You can’t possibly be shoddy and elegant, and it’s impossible to be smart and non-elegant. So in order to satisfy the dress code, you simply need to rock an outfit that satisfies both adjectives.

Something like this.

smart elegant dress code kenya

If you get invited to a wedding in which the dress code is black vogue, well then that means there should be an element of black within your outfit and you should look like the type of man who’s on the cover of Vogue magazine. Something like this.

vogue dress code kenya

I believe you’re getting the hang of how to manage new school dress codes right?

New school dress codes are not as strict as their old school counterparts. Simply satisfy their adjectives of choice, get creative, and go out and blow the minds of anyone who will be blessed with the good fortune of laying their eyes on you and your top-notch level of swag.

Cheers and God bless.

Paul Oloo

Paul Oloo


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