Casinos used to be looked at as some of the most enjoyable places to dress up. One need only look back at the beloved 2001 casino film Ocean’s 11 to recall Julia Roberts gliding through a casino in a glittering golden dress, or George Clooney and his gang seated at card tables in tailored tuxes. Examples like these presented a somewhat intoxicating image of casino fashion. With that said however, the same casinos have gotten a lot more casual over the past two decades; you’ll now see people in jeans at the restaurants, and wearing hoodies at poker tables.

This can be attributed in part to the poker boom of the early 2000s, and the examples put forward by top players, who seldom bother to dress up. Some of the world’s greatest poker players in fact, such as Erik Seidel and Phil Hellmuth, almost seem to make a specific point of keeping it casual at the casino tables. They’ve prioritized comfort over formality or style, and they’re done so while becoming the very faces of modern casino gaming. And unsurprisingly, countless less prominent players have followed their lead.

But has this casual movement sealed the deal, or is it still appropriate to dress up for a night out at the casino?

This depends somewhat on where you’re going, and what might be expected at a given venue. Some establishments have formal dress codes that you actually have to stick to in order to gain entry. Others are more flexible. Across the board however, we’d argue that it’s still okay to take a fashionable approach at the casino. It’s part of the fun of going out, and you can certainly still do it without standing out or feeling out of place. Indeed, some even say that a nice, sharp outfit can serve as something of an intimidation factor in your favor at the poker tables!

But how specifically should you dress for a casino night in 2021?

Women nowadays might want to skip the Julia Roberts evening gown and opt instead for something like a maxi dress suitable for evening wear at most. High-end jeans and a stylish top work well also, and if you feel you can pull off a sort of hybrid look a la Roberts’s jaw-dropping red blazer-and-skirt combo from Ocean’s 11, by all means go for it! Go ahead and have some fun with your accessories as well. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a bit of flash at a card table.

As for the men, it’s reasonable today to go with a nicer pair of jeans or slacks, coupled with a classy shirt a step up from the average restaurant night button down. That said, suits aren’t off the table even if the casino table black-tie look might be in the past. Instead, men should consider somewhat more casual suits, perhaps even without ties –– oddly enough, a look Clooney modeled in between tuxes in Ocean’s 11!

All in all, it’s undeniable that we’re seeing society trending toward the casual. We’ve already seen office dress codes getting decidedly less formal, and the rise of athleisure has been so dramatic that it’s now common for people to wear activewear on dates. To be clear, these aren’t necessarily negative developments individually. But if you have an eye for style and you feel like there are fewer and fewer opportunities to express it, you’re not alone.

To some extent, casinos are part of this conversation. Casino style certainly isn’t what it once was. But neither is it completely gone. A trip to the casino is still a chance to wear a nice outfit and have some fun with your look. Just don’t go too far over the top!

Gavinn Lem