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Recommendations of Etiquette Expert Aija Odiņa, author of Lietišķās un oficiālas uzvedības grāmata (a book published in Latvian on practical etiquette) on how to dress at the Academic Ball.

Dark suit

For the 'dark suit' dress code, the choice of colour is limited: black, dark blue or dark grey. If you choose to wear a grey suit, make sure it is very dark - almost black. A dark brown suit is not an option.

Single or double-breasted jackets are acceptable. The last button of a single-breasted jacket is always undone. If the jacket has three buttons, it is also acceptable to undo the one at the top.

A single-coloured shirt is worn with the suit. Conventionally, the colour of the shirt may not be darker than that of the jacket, but the tie must be darker than the shirt.

1 or 2 centimetres of the shirt cuffs have to visibly stick out of the jacket's sleeves. Elegant precious metal cufflinks are recommended with a dark suit on an evening occasion.

A waistcoast underneath the jacket is optional. If you choose to wear one, make sure to keep the lower button undone.

The necktie pattern may vary according to taste considering one's personal status or job position. The more official the person, the 'calmer' the pattern and colour of the tie. A less official person may go for a more artsy brighter tie.

It is considered acceptable for a necktie to reach the belt buckle. For your tie, use the Four-in-Hand, Shelby/Pratt, Windsor or Half Windsor knot and arrange it tightly to the collar of the shirt. A necktie pin is also acceptable, but make sure it is aligned with the outer pocket of the jacket or between the 4th and 5th buttons of the shirt. 

The colour of the belt must match that of the shoes and gloves.

The gentleman wears formal black fine leather laced shoes (no buckles, clips, zippers, etc.) with the dark suit. 

The colour of the socks must match that of the shoes, thus fine black socks would be appropriate.

Length of the trousers: there must be a two-finger gap between the lower rim of the back of the trouser leg and the floor.


A tuxedo is evening wear worn at events after 6 pm.

Tuxedo jacket is similar to that of the classical suit, its collar is always silk-covered.

A black bow tie is worn with the tuxedo. However, occasionally, another colour is appropriate by matching the colour of the lady's evening dress or contrasting with it.

Trousers: black, without turn-ups, with silk ribbon stripe on the outside edge.

Shirt: classical white or with wing collar.

Black silk belt with upwards open pleats should be worn. A belt in another colour is permissible by matching the colour of the lady's evening dress or contrasting with it.

The gentleman wears formal black fine leather laced shoes or black patent leather shoes and black silk socks.

A white pocket handkerchief is acceptable.

The tuxedo jacket should always be buttoned.

Outer garments

Make sure that outer gaments match the style of the suit. A fabric, leather or fur coat with buttons will go well with a dark suit.

Dress (with 'Dark Suit')

If 'dark suit' is the dress code defined in the invitation, the lady is to wear a smart dress suit, dress or cocktail gown. The length of the skirt or dress is conventionally short, meaning it reaches the knee or within a hand's width above or below it.

The colour of the dress suit may be the same as that of the accompanying gentleman's suit or different. It is made of high quality fabric and is not transparent or patterned. The blouse or top underneath the jacket is single-coloured; however, the fabric of the costume may have an elegant pattern, if the lady chooses not to wear a blouse or top.

A small short-handle handbag goes well with the costume; likewise, the lady may choose one with a long strap or a thin chain. Never place the handbag on the table. Instead, the lady may put it in her lap, place it on the chair behind her or hang it on the backrest of the chair.

The dress must be slightly low-cut and not shorter than at least a hand's width above the knee. A clutch or short-handle handbag will be the appropriate choice to go with a cocktail gown.

To cover up her shoulders, the lady may match a smart shawl, scarf or fur with her dress. However, such accessories must be fixed well to avoid situations where frequent re-adjustment is needed, which could cause a feeling of awkwardness and draw others' attention. Younger women may also choose to wear a bolero jacket.

Only closed-toe shoes are permitted. The sides and heels are the only shoe parts that may be open. The heel of the shoe may be even as high as 10 centimetres which will accentuate the gracefulness of the body and the elegance of the garment, and also make the lady feel self-confident.

Choose stockings that match the dress or the shoes. the more elegant the shoes, the thinner the stockings (7 and 10 den); higher density stockings are also permitted (15 and 20 den) in the cold season.

Elegant hairstyle; an evening coiffure will do well for the occasion. Hairpins or hairclips are permitted, but never a rubber hairband.

Should the lady wish to wear jewellery, items made of precious metals are recommended. A proportion of the attendees consider wearing high-quality jewellery acceptable.

Dress (with 'Tuxedo')

If 'tuxedo' is the dress code defined in the invitation, the lady is to wear a long or short evening dress, smart trouser or dress suit. The skirt may be either above or below the knee. Occasionally, even a gentleman's tuxedo or tailcoat will be permitted for extravagant women.

If the length of the evening dress is not specified in the invitation, it could be either, however,  a floor-length evening dress will be the most convenient for dancing.

It is acceptable for ladies to choose two-piece wear - a dress suit. The skirt may be with slits.

A pant suit must be loose-fitting without pleats.

The dress might be bare neck, but not too low-cut. To cover up her shoulders, the lady may match a fur, silk scarf or shawl.

The fabric of the evening gown: smart silk, taffeta, velvet, lace. The evening gown should be of single-coloured fabric, there are no other restrictions in colour.

The lady wears smart closed-toe pumps made of thin leather or patent leather with high heels. Shoes might be golden or silver in colour, made of silk or brocade, embroidered. Choose the finest tights. Silver or gold sheer glitter tights are permissible.

Bag: small, elegant, envelope clutch or short-handled, made of leather, gown fabrics, other decorative fabrics, with pearls, matching the shoes.

Gloves used to be a must-have accessory, however, now it is not the case - the lady may choose to wear them depending on the style of the gown.

Jewellery of precious metals, smart design jewellery is recommended. Costume jewellery is not appropriate, likewise, the combination of costume jewellery and jewellery is not considered to be acceptable. A watch and cap are not appropriate.

Outer garments

Make sure that outer garments match the style of the dress.  A fabric, leather or fur coat with buttons will go well with a dark suit. The lady may wear a cape, scarf or shoulder wrap with her outer garment. The lady allows the gentleman to assist her in handling her outer garment (taking off, putting on, checking in the coat).