Look the part: the ultimate casino dress code guide
Casinos have built a reputation for high-end entertainment and value, where players can win big and spend their money in style. With famous live entertainment venues, fine-dining restaurants, and specialty bars, it’s no wonder that many casinos regularly host celebrities, sports stars and the world’s wealthiest.
In order to attract and maintain this sort of standard and clientele, casinos have implemented dress code regulations to make sure that everyone looks their best. The casino dress code sets the tone for the environment and the type of behavior that can be tolerated.
Casinos can be a very charged atmosphere, with players winning a fortune or falling just short of winning. Tempers can flare in these situations. The casino dress code sets a minimum level of decorum for the occasion.
Not all of us are world-famous athletes, movie stars or CEOs. We might not all have a $3,000 bespoke suit in our cupboard. When thinking of how to dress for a casino, we might need to look through our Sunday best or wedding attire. Even then, we might not be sure whether we are over or underdressed. So how do you know what to wear when you visit a casino?
This ultimate casino dress code guide will unpack the different dress codes, what they entail and when you should wear them. It will include the appropriate casino dress code for ladies and gents. No need to doubt yourself further – from here on out, you dress the part.
History of casino dress codes
Historically, it is thought that almost all forms of societies had a variation of a casino. Not necessarily a brick-and-mortar casino as you would find today, but at least a place where people would gather to socialize and gamble on games of chance. In America, this took the form of saloons in New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Chicago.
In understanding how the casino dress code developed, we need to understand changes in fashion. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, fashion was very formal, with many men wearing shirts, ties, blazers, and top hats. The women wore corsets with frilly blouses, long skirts, and broad-brimmed hats.
When serving clientele that dressed as formal as that, the saloons needed to ensure their staff looked the part as well. After all, they were handling large amounts of money from potentially prestigious members of society. In a sense, this was the beginning of the casino dress code that we know today. The staff members had the first casino dress code. They would set the standard of elegance and respectability required by clientele at the casino establishment.
As the 20th century progressed, fashion became more and more informal. In the 1960s, women wore short skirts and men started to grow their hair long. These days, you would not be surprised to see the CEOs of the biggest companies in the world wearing t-shirts and jeans. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are prime examples of this.
Despite this, casinos have still remained a formal environment. The casino staff still wear shirts and ties, with neat haircuts and makeup. In most casinos, this has remained the appropriate casino clothing for clientele as well. Some casinos have lowered their dress code to match a more casually dressed society, but it is generally the exception to the norm.
When selecting your casino clothes, it is advisable to check the casino’s website for the dress code requirements. If in doubt, dress formally. Casinos remain an environment of class and sophistication, where large fortunes change hands regularly.
It all truly began with the casino’s staff dress code. So the next time you’re in a casino, take the time to notice how the casino staff are dressed. Imagine what type of hat you would have worn in a New Orleans saloon when you greet them.
Casino dress in popular culture
With the increased regulation and licensing, and the uptake of online gambling, casinos are as popular as ever. In the period from 2011 to 2016, the global gambling industry market value rose by close to $100 billion. The addition of online casinos and legalized sports betting has continued to grow the value since.
People are still looking to experience the world’s best casinos in large numbers. In 2014, The Strip in Las Vegas was voted as the number one tourist attraction in the world. The lights, sounds and excitement of casinos as well as their hosting of world boxing title fights has ensured that they are still relevant in the 21st century.
In popular culture, casinos have been the scene for many movies, shows, and books for the last 50 years. Gambling songs go back even further. The song Luck Be A Lady was famous in the 1950s and Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas in the 1960s.
In literature, Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has influenced generations. Its movie, brought out in 1998, brought the story to further generations. It has since become one of the classic casino movies.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a cult casino movie alongside the likes of The Cincinnati Kid, Casino, Rounders, Casino Royale, and The Hangover. These movies showcase the casino environment in all of its intensity, passion and joy. The next time you are thinking of heading to a casino, and aren’t sure what to wear, you could draw inspiration from these films.
In these cult casino movies, you can see the characters dressed perfectly for the casino. James Bond in Casino Royale is perhaps the best example with a black bowtie, tuxedo, crisp white shirt a fresh haircut. Ginger in Casino is another great example with her halter-neck beaded white mini dress with a keyhole neckline.
Of course we all don’t have such stylish clothes at our disposal when wondering: what do I wear to a casino? These films serve as an example of how to dress to impress at casinos, but many casinos aren’t as formal these days. Raoul in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas gives a good example of a more casual dress code, with a shirt and a sports jacket. His hat and sunglasses might not pass these days though.
These movies, books, and songs give us an insight into the casino experience. A person is likely to experience a great many emotions at a casino, especially if they place a large bet. This type of personal drama resonates with a lot of areas of life, and this is one of the reasons that casinos continue to appear in popular culture.
Casino outfits by celebrities
If you’re not the biggest fan of movies, you might want to draw inspiration from what real-life people wear to casinos. Many celebrities enjoy an evening at the casino. Some celebrities enjoy the tactical play in poker, others the low house edge on blackjack. Regardless of who they are, they still need to dress by the minimum casino dress code. Below are a few celebrities that you can use as dress code inspiration for both men and women.
Celebrity examples of casino dress code for men
Ben Affleck, Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen are all known to enjoy a visit to the casinos. Ben Affleck will often give a good example of a smart casual casino dress code for men. He likes to wear a long sleeve button shirt over a t-shirt. When he needs to look smarter he wears a blazer and shirt without a tie.
Interestingly, Ben Affleck will often be found at the blackjack table. In the past, he has been asked by casino security to leave a casino because there was a suspicion he was counting cards. He also once won $800,000 on a $60,000 wager. After winning, he gave the casino employees $150,000 as a tip.
Celebrity examples of casino dress code for women
Casinos are certainly not just a place for men. Celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Tilly, and Shannon Elizabeth are all known to enjoy games at the casinos. Jennifer Tilly is a good example of a casino dress code for women as she often wears a low cut black evening dress.
Jennifer Tilly is a very accomplished poker player and has a bracelet from the World Series of Poker after she won the 2005 Ladies Event. Jennifer Tilly and Vicky Coren Mitchell are perhaps the two best female celebrity poker players, with both winning several titles.
Modern casino dress codes
Casino dress codes in popular culture will often show all the players in bowties and tuxedos. While there are still high-end casinos that have a white or black tie dress code, most will allow a more casual outfit. It is always safer to check though. You wouldn’t want to be turned away from the casino floor while your friends go off to enjoy themselves.
These days, most people avoid wearing cocktail clothes if possible, as they are generally less comfortable than casual clothes. The CEOs and CTOs of Silicon Valley have made a clean plain t-shirt and neat jeans a respectable outfit for an extremely wealthy individual. That being said, dress codes still set the standard and with a minor tweak or two, the t-shirt and jeans could bump up from casual to smart-casual.
If you understand the different types of dress codes, you might realize your wardrobe has more clothes that would be considered appropriate. Instead of wondering what could I wear, you’ll be asking what should I wear at a casino.
So what are the different types of dress codes? We’ve all attended a wedding, school dance or work function in our lives where we’ve had to decipher what the dress code meant. Fear not, below is a comprehensive list of the different smarter-than-casual dress codes that you could find required for a casino. Each dress code is clarified for both ladies and gents.
White tie is considered the most formal of casino dress codes. White tie dress code is usually associated with A-list-attended events with the most respected members of society. This dress code is perhaps the biggest reference to the dress code of the upper-class in the 18th and 19th centuries in the early saloons and casinos.
White tie is most likely used as the dress code for an event at a casino, rather than the default dress code for the casino floor. It is a heightened dress code, perfect for state dinners or big business events. Weddings and other social events might be laxer with their interpretation of white tie, but if you’re invited to a royal event, make sure you get it right. So how does a person dress for a white tie event?
White tie for men
For men who want to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’, there are a set of requirements for white tie. You’ll need to wear a black dress coat with tails. The trousers will also be black with a satin stripe down the side of the legs. You’ll wear a crisp white shirt with a stiff front and wing collar. You’ll decorate the shirt with studs, cufflinks and a hand-folded white bowtie. A pair of white or grey gloves would also be accepted. To finish it off you’ll wear black socks and formal black patent leather shoes.
White tie for women
White tie is a little less prescriptive for women. The minimum requirement is a floor-length evening gown. There are no restrictions on color or material. Optional accessories include clutch purses, tiaras, long white gloves and jewelry. With a floor-length evening gown, you won’t necessarily have too much attention on your feet. Nevertheless, it is advised that you wear heels.
The black tie dress code is slightly less formal than white tie. It is also different in that it is traditionally used for events after 18:00 in the evening, whereas white tie could be for day events as well. You might find casinos with a black tie dress code, but it will also generally be used for exclusive events or reserved areas in the casino.
Black tie for men
Black tie is perhaps the default assumption of what a casino dress code is. This is in part because of movies like Casino Royale and Casino, where men in black tuxedos try to call a villain’s bluff. In truth, it is still more formal than is required for general casino floors. However, if you want to dress like James Bond in a casino, you will probably benefit from good seats at tables and admiring glances.
For men, black tie is centered around the tuxedo, preferably with a black bowtie. As a minimum you’ll need a crisp white shirt, an evening waistcoat and a black dinner jacket. On your feet, you’ll wear black socks and patent leather shoes. A black bowtie rounds off the black-tie look.
Most casinos won’t turn you away if you wear a black tie rather than a bowtie. Equally, you could wear a dark navy blue dinner jacket as well. There is however, no space for jerseys or sports jackets.
You’ll often find that casino staff dress in black-tie dress code. They might have a variation on the dinner jacket color. If you plan on wearing a black tie with a white dinner jacket, it might be worth looking for images of the casino staff online. Nothing will ruin your mood more than a fellow gambler asking you if you work at the casino.
Overall, the black-tie dress code is perhaps more in fashion than white tie. A tuxedo is a lot more modern than a coat with tails. If you can afford a good tuxedo, you could wear it to any formal event or space, so it could be a worthwhile investment.
Black tie for women
For women, a black-tie dress code has many options. You could wear a long evening dress, a ball-gown or potentially a pair of palazzo trousers in a pants suit. Long dresses are usually the preferred choice. The only fixed requirement is that you need to wear evening shoes.
Up until the end of the 1970’s, black tie was slightly stricter for women. In the past, a pair of palazzo trousers or a cocktail dress might have been too casual. Instead, black-tie would have meant a floor or calf-length evening gown, with a fur wrap and a pair of long gloves. The classic black tie look is not out of fashion, and a long dress will make sure that you are dressed for the occasion.
Formal or black tie optional
Formal or black tie optional is slightly less formal than a black-tie dress code. Formal is one of the main dress codes used for casinos, partly because it is so close to a black tie dress code. Many casinos set their dress code to formal, but also tolerate semi-formal. In some interpretations, formal means anything above semi-formal, i.e anything that would fit into a white tie or black tie dress code with a tolerance for more color.
Formal for men
Formal for men could be described as adding color to the black-tie dress code. You would still wear a suit, with a crisp white shirt and tie, but the suit and tie need not be black. If in doubt, side towards a conservative darker color. Your shoes would still be leather but could be either dark brown or black. A tuxedo could be worn, but a coat with tails could be too formal. A jersey or sports jacket, on the other hand, would certainly be too informal.
Formal for women
For women, formal is also very similar to the black-tie dress code. You could wear a floor-length gown, palazzo pants suit, or a knee-length cocktail dress. You would still need to wear heels.
Perhaps a knee-length cocktail dress best sums up this dress code. In a black-tie event you would err towards an evening gown, whereas in a formal event, you can feel secure in a cocktail dress.
Not many casinos set their dress code to semi-formal, but it is almost universally accepted. Semi-formal is a dress code that caters for morning events through to late evening. As a result, there is a level of comfort that is catered for in the clothing choices. The comfort does compromise the level of elegance and style still required for a semi formal dress code.
Semi-formal for men
Semi-formal still requires that men wear a suit. A pair of khakis or jeans would not be appropriate. There is, however, no need for a tuxedo. A neat business suit, preferably a darker color would be the go-to. If you have a vest or waistcoat that can be worn as well.
Your shirt does not necessarily need to be white, but it should be a conservative color. The tie color should match the shirt. There is no need to wear a bow tie for a semi-formal occasion. Your socks should also be a conservative color and the shoes either brown or black leather.
In modern times, it has become acceptable for semi formal to not include a tie. A neat shirt and suit remain a must though, even more so if you don’t wear a tie. If in doubt, wear a tie. You can always take it off if you feel overdressed.
Semi-formal for women
The biggest difference between semi-formal from formal is the length of the cocktail dress. In a formal environment it should be no higher than the knee, whereas on semi-formal occasions, you can go slightly higher. Along with the cocktail dress, there are other options of clothing that are appropriate.
Semi-formal for women includes a neat dress, a dressy blouse with slacks and a dressy skirt and top. Color-wise, it is always best advised to err towards evening conservative colors. A beaded dress is also a good option.
As the name suggests, business formal is the type of clothes that you would wear to work. These days that has become increasingly informal, so with time this dress code may need to consider an alternate name. It basically means presentable and professional. The clothes you would wear if you were leading a presentation at work.
Business formal for men
Business formal and semi-formal are considered at the same level for men. Both require a business suit, shirt, and tie, with leather shoes. As with semi-formal, you can go without a tie in business formal. Perhaps the only difference is that you wouldn’t include a vest or waistcoat in business formal.
Business formal for women
For women, business formal is slightly different to semi-formal. Business formal could be considered a more corporate dress code, with business suits and dresses the main attire. Business jackets, stockings, and heels are often associated with business formal.
Business casual is the most common type of casino dress code at the moment. This is including all casinos, not just the world-famous ones. Business casual is a lower rung to business formal. It’s neat, comfortable and professional, but you’re not going to be leading a presentation.
One thing to consider when visiting a casino with business casual as their dress code is that there may be other areas in the casino that require a higher dress code. For example, an exclusive bar or restaurant may require formal wear. Before heading to the casino, make sure that you consider what areas of the casino you would like to go to so that you can avoid asking a stranger for their tie or jacket.
Business casual for men
Raoul in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a good example of business casual. It requires a sports jacket and a collared shirt. The shirt could be a dress shirt, a casual button shirt or an open collar shirt. The first thing that staff will look for is a collar of sorts. A tie is completely optional.
In business casual, slacks and khakis are acceptable. Jeans would not be considered business casual. Shoes-wise, you could wear loafers, but not sneakers.
Business casual for women
Business casual for women is close to casual but still professional. An easy rule of thumb is to think, would I wear this at work? If the answer is no, then it is too casual. Business casual includes collared or knitted shirts with a sweater. It also includes skirts, pants and khakis. The skirts can be shorter than knee length, but should not be a mini skirt. The rule of thumb is to not make it too revealing, although determining what is too revealing is in itself subjective.
Smart casual is similar to business casual. The main difference is that you can remove the corporate element from the dress code. It is slightly less formal than business casual in that you wouldn’t need to consider if you would wear the outfit in a corporate environment. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be, would I wear this in a startup business environment? You wouldn’t find too many casinos with a smart casual dress code, as it could be interpreted as slightly too casual.
Smart casual for men
Smart casual is the first time that jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable in dress code. You could even be accepted wearing a clean pair of sneakers, although this would be a risky call. A smart casual outfit could include a blazer, a button collared shirt or t-shirt, and a well-maintained jersey.
Smart casual should still look neat and presentable. You don’t need to tuck in your shirt as long as it looks neat. Shoes wise, it is perhaps safer to side with a pair of loafers than your favorite sneakers.
Smart casual for women
A smart casual look should always be polished and comfortable. You can wear a jumpsuit, jeans, khakis or a skirt. A shirt and jersey are also smart casual. The shirts don’t necessarily need to have a collar. Footwear wise you should stick to heels, although you could go for thicker heel or flats for more comfort.
Smart casual should bring out more of your personality than business casual. While still professional and elegant, it should be softer than business casual.
In the context of a dress code, casual doesn’t mean anything goes. It still needs to be neat and presentable. This means nothing offensive or polarizing. Military uniforms, jeans with holes in them, and shorts with sandals are not permitted. There still needs to be an evident level of respect for the casino establishment in your attire.
Casual for men
For men, a casual dress code includes clean jeans, khakis or cargo pants. These can be paired with a neat shirt, polo shirt or plain t-shirt. Loafers would still be the main footwear, but clean sneakers are also accepted.
Casual for women
Casual dress code includes skirts, neat shorts, jeans or khakis. Casual tops include plain t-shirts, blouses, polo shirts, and turtlenecks. Colorful summer dresses are also accepted. Footwear could be small heels, flats or sneakers. Casinos have an aversion to sandals, so make sure not to wear them with your outfit.
No dress code
Sometimes a casino doesn’t clearly say what it’s dress code is, while other casinos claim to have no dress code at all. What is the best thing to do in these situations? The first thing is to probe a little deeper. If a casino doesn’t indicate their dress code on their website, it is advisable to call the casino directly. You wouldn’t want to travel a fair distance only to turn around and drive back. Equally, you wouldn’t want to spend hours on the casino floor only to realize that you are inappropriately dressed to enter the bar or restaurant.
It is always advisable to be overdressed than under-dressed for the casino. Business casual is a great dress code to default towards. If you are still unsure if there is a dress code, you should wear/pack the following clothes in case.
General casino clothes for men
An ironed long sleeve button collared shirt, with a pair of khaki pants and loafers, should make you look professional and comfortable. If it’s colder, opt towards a formal jacket, or a sports jacket if you don’t have a formal jacket available.
General casino clothes for women
A safe bet for general casino clothes would be a sophisticated long cocktail dress. It should not be shorter than your knees. On top of this, you could wear a wrap or a sweater that matches the cocktail dress. Your footwear could be heels or flats, depending on what’s your preference is.
Different casino areas
Casinos will often be divided into different sections. There is the main casino floor with the table games and slot machines, but there are sometimes separate poker rooms, sports betting areas, VIP sections and private rooms. Just like the restaurants, bars and event areas, these different casino areas could have different casino dress codes. If you know beforehand what type of game you’d like to play at the casino, you can prepare your outfit accordingly.
Selecting your outfit deliberately
A casinos website should indicate what their casino floor dress code is. The casino floor is the main gambling area of the casino. The table games will have a casino staff member present as the dealer. Some might think that a table games dress code would be stricter than the slots, but this is not the case. As they are both on the casino floor, they will both have the same dress code.
If you are going for the slots, you might just dress to meet the dress code and not for human interaction. However, if you’re going for the table games, you might put a bit more thought into your outfit.
A well-thought through blackjack dress code, as an example, could set the tone for your game with the dealer. If you arrive in jeans and a plaid shirt, the first impression could be that this player is a card counter. If you arrive in a tuxedo, you could be assumed to be a high roller. Table games have an element of human interaction and these first impressions count.
For a game like poker, impressions are even more influential. Here you’re not playing against the dealer, your playing against the other players. You will be watching them and they will be watching you. Refining your poker dress code could help you hide your bluffs and bring out bigger bets from other players. Equally, by being more deliberate about your poker dress code, you could become aware of the image that other players are trying to portray to gain an advantage in the game.
You might want to think again if you’re outfit makes you look like a seasoned gambler, a wealthy high-roller, a celebrity in disguise, or even a newcomer who doesn’t know what they’re doing. If you’re serious about your table games, your table games dress code could be a part of your game strategy.
When it comes to poker rooms and poker tournaments, the dress code is often open to interpretation. Many times players will wear outfits in an attempt to put other players off their game. This could include strange sunglasses, a very suave tuxedo or a low cut top revealing cleavage.
Most poker tournaments don’t have a dress code other than no sandals or flip flops. The rest is up to you and your poker persona.
Figuring out an outfit for a casino can be a frustrating dilemma. Perhaps you don’t enjoy wearing formal clothes and don’t see why you should be forced to wear them in a casino. You might also find the personal interactions taxing, especially if you’re well known in your society. You could feel that it’s getting in the way of enjoying the games. If this is the case, it is fairly safe to assume that you’ve explored playing on an online casino.
With the increased legislation and regulation of online casinos, you can now play casino games online safely and securely from the comfort of your home. Unless you have a household dress code, you can dress in your most comfortable clothes.
When it comes to online poker, this brings a different element to the game. When you play poker online, you won’t be able to see your opponent’s clothing. This means you won’t be able to judge their bets and hands by their appearances, and bluffs become more difficult to read as a result. For many, this is one of the best online casino traits: the focus of the table games becomes more about the games and less about the interpersonal dynamics.
This is true for all online casino games. In an online casino real money is exchanging hands regularly, so the intensity of the game remains. The focus on the gameplay makes every decision heightened and entertaining. As a result, the online gambling industry continues to attract new players in droves.
When selecting an online casino, it is important to do your research. Firstly, make sure it is legal to gamble online where you live. Then see which online casinos are registered for your area. The best online casinos will be licensed with reputable gaming regulatory bodies.
The next step is to research what you would prefer to play. The best online casinos will offer sports betting, online poker and a carefully curated list of the best online casino games. With a healthy welcome bonus, it could be the first time you sit back with your sandals on and ask the dealer to hit.