Decode the Dress Code

Clare McGarvey solves the riddle of wedding dress codes with help from The Parade, Norwood

One of Adelaide Model Management‘s freshest faces, Clare is also a freelance writer and full time economics student who majors in politics and international relations. As wedding season approaches, she takes time out of her busy schedule to help us navigate dress codes. Smart casual, cocktail or formal – whatever your invite calls for, we bring you the answers from The Parade, Norwood.

Beginning with a silky, softly printed shirtdress option from Seed Heritage which could fulfil both smart casual and cocktail requirements, I ask about Clare’s recent signing with AMM. “I got referred to Diana (AMM’s director) through an Adelaide photographer, I’ve been signed with them for nearly two months now and really enjoying it so far. Diana creates a very supportive environment and the other girls are all really sweet.”
We pair the dress back with neutral heels, an understated tassel earring and Clare’s own fine gold accessories. Letting the pattern speak for itself is the simplest way to elevate the look.

On to Trenery and we’re drawn to a formal option for those who simply wouldn’t feel themselves in a dress. The traditionally gendered rules of event dressing continue to be broken, making womens suiting both a timelessly chic and on trend option.

“I generally prefer dressing androgynously and am drawn to clothing that distorts body shape or uses varying textures & materials. My style can change pretty drastically depending on my mood.”

Three designers who describe your personal style? “I worship everything designed by Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and Alessandro Michele – specifically loved his Gucci 2019 resort collection.”


For those wanting to hint at their feminine side, the addition of delicate jewellery with elements such as natural pearls will act to soften a structured suit – it’s all about balance!

In Dotti we find a smart casual look that won’t break the bank. Invited as an attendees guest last minute? Payday can’t come soon enough? Floaty printed florals paired back with an edgy jacket or belt are your solution here.

As a relative newcomer to the industry, we wonder, has modelling been as Clare expected? “Prior to signing with AMM I had very little experience modelling. I think the lifestyle associated with it is quite idolised, especially now with the prominence of social media. I had the idea that a models life was very glamorous and almost leisurely but in reality it’s hard work! It’s not just a matter of standing still and looking at the camera you really have to be able to see and help produce the creative vision of those around you.”

“Strict dress codes and adherence to traditional wedding customs may be very important to some people, but personally, I find style so integral to my persona that being told or expected to wear certain things is really stifling.”


Birdcage Boutique is an obvious choice for event dressing. Theres an abundance of cocktail and semi formal options here but today we select two floral pieces, a C/MEO mini dress and Keepsake pantsuit.
On dress codes, “I’ve never been a fan of tradition or dress ‘codes’ per se. In high school the teachers were always chasing me with detention slips trying to get me to take out earrings, pull off a jumper or put on a tie. That being said, I do really love themed events – when used as a general guideline dress codes can definitely encourage creativity and interest in exploring your own individual style.”

While searching for the perfect sandal to pair with our florals, we chat about Clare’s freelance writing side hustle. “I’m currently writing blogs and web articles for a good friends events business, I love how much creative control I have in the role. I’ve been interested in journalism for a while, either political or fashion related, I really respect the power and importance of information.”

For an afternoon celebration with a spring chill still in the air, we turn to British label and fresh face on The Parade, Jigsaw. The knee length silk dress layered with a fine knit in soft hues fulfils a more conservative cocktail dress code, leaving you the option to add a little edge with patent accessories.

We’ve saved (one of) the best till last, Sooki Boutique is well known by Adelaide locals and provides smart casual, cocktail and even formal gown options. Drawn to two Bec & Bridge pieces we head to the fitting rooms, I challenge Clare – if you were to be spotted on The Parade, which store would we find you in and what would you be doing?
“Honestly I would most likely be at The Parade scouting for an outfit if I had a wedding or event coming up. I do like to dress up and find stores here have really good variety – I particularly love the Vinnies. Then after a busy morning trawling shops I’d more than likely escape to The Lost Deli for lunch. 

“For my own theoretical weddings dress code I think i’d invite all my guests to dress in thrifted wedding gowns/attire, alternatively a Vegas themed wedding where attendees would come in super tacky outfits, I think either would be really funny.”

On wearing white to a wedding, “I definitely don’t like my style to be constrained by convention and find the idea you’d outshine the bride by wearing white ridiculous. Women aren’t out here competing with one another in a never ending beauty competition.”


Find the wedding dress code solutions you’ve been searching for at The Parade, Norwood.

Words & Photography by Elenor Jones-Gray
Special thanks to talent Clare McGarvey