Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my friend’s formal/award ceremony for her sorority. That’s me and her pictured at the top. She’s to the left, doesn’t she look fabulous? It was then that I realized that many people, especially younger people, don’t quite know how to dress for “black tie events”. Many of the attendants were not appropriately dressed for the occasion! So I came up with a few rules to help figure out how to dress to a formal event.
1. READ THE INVITATION!! If the invitation uses any of these words, formal, black-tie, dress-to-impress, gala, cocktail, etc., you better dress your best! If the invitation looks very classy, sophisticated, and well, formal, you know it’s a very formal event!
2. Research where the event is going to be held. Is it going to be held in a beautiful dining hall, catering hall, or country club? Or is it on a beach or someone’s backyard? This is important for determining how to dress. You won’t dress the same way to a beach wedding as you would to a wedding in a country club.
3. Don’t be afraid to over dress! It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. If you are overdressed, at least it showed that you care and that you took the extra time to get ready for the great event! It’s not your fault that people aren’t up to your par! hehe! There’s nothing wrong with standing out (in a good way).
4. Be mindful of the host(ess) and their religion/faith/traditions, etc! Obviously, do not wear white to a wedding. Keep in mind not to offend anyone or their practices. For example, if you are attending a strict Muslim or Jewish ceremony or wedding, try to cover up a bit.
5. Have fun!!! (but be tasteful!) Please know the difference between formal/evening wear and clubwear. You don’t need to wear a dress that’s showing all your goods (unless you’re trying to get the groom in trouble early!!). Black is always safe and appropriate for formal events but don’t be afraid to step out the box! If you are attending a wedding, it’s best to try not to stand out too much and distract the attention away from the bride, but if you’re attending another formal event such as a sorority formal, special gala, or any other social event, don’t be afraid to be the spotlight!
6. If you have to question whether something is dressy enough or not for the occasion, chances are, it’s not dressy enough! If you have to question whether something is appropriate for the event, you might want to choose a different outfit. Oftentimes people confuse nice work/business dresses with formal dressy dresses. Business/work dresses are completely different than formal. Formal events shouldn’t be “work”! You’re supposed to have fun and show off how amazing you can be! This is your change to dress to impress and show the world your beauty!
7. Always be clean and polished! Make sure your hair is nice and neat. Make sure your make-up, if you choose to wear, is fabulous and flawless. Make sure your nails are kept neat and no nail polish is chipped off. Make sure your jewlrey compliments your outfit and is appropriate for the occasion. I would’nt wear my ghetto name-plate earrings with a beautiful gown!
If you have any doubts as to what is appropriate and what is not, don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate when your shopping for help. Many stores have entire sections for formal wear. You can find some great formal dresses at Dress Barn, Macy’s, JC Penny, White House Black Market, etc. Dress Barn has a great selection of formal dresses at great prices.
My friend, Bridgette, wore a fabulous black dress that was short in the front and long in the back. The back of her dress showed her entire back and featured silver chains and a silver pendant in the front. Of course, her shoes were gorgeous. She was the best dressed at the event, in my opinion.
I wore a short one-shoulder black dress that feature ruffles all around the top. (I got it for $10 at Mandee’s!) I wore it with black steve madden sling-backs and a white Michael Kors clutch. I wore silver drop earrings and a simple silver cross.
A gentleman that we befriended at the event was also dressed very snazzy. He wore a navy suit jacket with a blue shirt, orange tie, and cream pants. I think it’s always necessary for guy’s to wear jackets/blazers at formal events!!! (Excuse my gut in this pic, I ate sooo much that night…it was unlimited food and drinks!(: )
Another tip is to be mindful of whether or not the invitation calls for you to wear or stay away from certain colors. Recently, my brother had the opportunity to attend a wedding. The theme for the wedding was purple and white so he wore a black suit from Karako with a white dress shirt and a purple Michael Kors tie from Macy’s. As mentioned in a previous post, I encourage guys to wear colors like purple, pink, and yellow.