Writing an invitation for your event that is appropriate and useful is very important. Back in October, I posted a short piece on what to wear and I made reference to the all-too-often used “black tie optional”. This useless and anxiety-inducing direction should be stricken from all invitations henceforth. As an event planner, I help clients define what kind of experience they want their guests to have, and how guests dress is part and parcel of the event’s ultimate look and feel. ‘Black tie optional’ indicates an evening without an identity and inevitably creates a disjointed look and feel with people in drastically varying costume. Should you come across “black tie optional” in DC, my rule of thumb is wear a dark suit and tie; for ladies this can be a cocktail attire . If the evening is billed as a gala or a ball with significant ticket prices, then you may find more evening gowns and black ties among the crowd, and you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about dressing more formally for an event that is presumably more elegant.