Tips To Keep In Mind For Formal & Semi – Formal Dressing, Ladies & Gentleman!

After, tediously shopping for an appropriate cocktail dress (needed for an upcoming social engagement, this fall), many things came to mine. Chiefly, I realized just how hard it can be, for one to find the right outfit for an important social event. Particularly, one that requires some sort of acceptable level of evening wear.  One doesn’t want to look like an adolescent nor too risque, but incorporating current trends into classic formal wear is tricky, even for a seasoned shopper.

Here are some generalized tips for ladies and gentleman to consider, while shopping and dressing for an important evening soiree, semi – formal, or formal event:

1. Determine What Is Actually Required Of You:

While formal appears to be a fairly straightforward instruction, it is important to remember that it is, unfortunately, not absolute.

There are gradations within the classification and these will vary from one event to another.

In its purest form, formal dressing can include both black and white tie, and thus might require you to get yourself into an actual ball-gown.

However, the term is also commonly used on invitations to events where the host just wants the guests not to wear jeans and faded trainers.

In order to make sure, you know what you are dealing with, you will want to check things out with the party organisers.

2. Decoding The Definition Of “Black Tie”:

Invitations that specify ‘black’ or ‘white’ tie can be a little confusing for us girls.

While they seem to point out, very clearly, what is required of the men, they say nothing on the subject of what to wear if you’re a woman.

Basically, both classifications are variations on ‘formal.’ Black tie, also known as ‘dinner dress,’ is the more flexible of the two.

Depending on the occasion, you can sometimes get away with a cocktail dress or even a stylish, tailored suit.

Typically, though, women wear longer evening gowns and men get decked out and jazzed up in their formal tuxedoes.

3. Decoding What “White Tie” Means:

White tie is fairly uncommon in certain countries;

however you still see it specified as a dress code to a few very smart events.

Conventionally, the term refers to an elevated variation on formal dress.

Men are required to get dressed up in a tail coat and, of course, they need to wear a white collar and tie as the dress code suggests.

To this kind of very formal occasion, woman are usually expected to wear a ball-gown – traditionally a full skirted, full length formal dress with a décolleté top.

4. When to Consider The Cocktail Option:

As we’ve established, it can be appropriate to wear a cocktail dress to a formal event.

Ordinarily, this kind of outfit is shorter and a little more fun that your traditional, longer length evening gown. Here is a way to step away from neutrals and incorporate some trends into your outfit. For instance an interesting twist, on a cocktail dress might be a slip dress (one with vintage detailing like lace and a nude colored slip, lined underneath). Or, perhaps incorporating a bright color such as cobalt blue, that can be paired with netural colored accessories. Or think of making things a bit glitzy, with some sparkles or sequin details.

you can usually get away with this sort of thing if the formal event you are invited to is something like a drinks party taking place in the early evening.

5. When To Suit Up?

You might like to step away from the norm and, instead of a skirt or gown, wear a beautifully tailored suit and a pair of killer heels to your formal event.

Of course, this might not be appropriate attire for every occasion … but then again, the men will invariably be wearing suits so why shouldn’t we?

6. Considering Two Piece Variations:

If you get invited to a lot of formal events, you’ll definitely be looking to economise a little by making your outfits work as hard they possibly can.

A two-piece evening gown with a long full skirt and a bodice top is a great investment.

Go for a fairly solid, versatile colour and fabric and you’ll find it’ll be able to take you to a variety of different formal events.

Pair the whole thing with heels and uber-glam jewellery to go to a white tie do, and swap the bodice for a tailored blazer before heading out to a less swanky, black tie affair.

7. Formal Footwear:

Basically, your formal shoes should coordinate with your dress.

If you’re keen to take this instruction very literally, you can pick up a pair that has been specially manufactured to be dyed.

However, this is not always necessary: simply go for a lovely heel in a colour that compliments your outfit.

If you’re wearing a floor length gown, you’ll find that few people will see your feet anyway!

As dress codes go, formal is perhaps among the easiest to understand: in short, you need to wear something smart and appropriately glitzy.

However, it is nevertheless important to remember that within the classification, there are distinct levels of etiquette.


Hopefully, this list of 7 tips to dressing for a formal event, will help you to navigate the protocol of black and white tie affairs successfully! Keep these in mind, when shopping for upcoming fall events. May they make your shopping experience, a little less stressful overall! Happy Shopping! Stay Fabulous Looking, Even In Your Formal Attire! Rock Out, Farmingdale Fashionista’s!


'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - Outside Arrivals Featuring: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds Where: New York, New York, United States When: 06 May 2014 Credit: Andres Otero/



No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply