How to Dress for a Formal Evening

There’s a time to be casual, and there’s a time to be formal. Your ‘fancy’ skirt and blouse just won’t make the cut for those black-tie events. You’ve got to bring out the big guns. We’re talking flowing dresses, sexy slits, and fur stoles – the works.

Here’s a quick guide on how to dress to impress for all your formal evening needs.


How to Dress for a Formal Evening

For a formal evening dinner, go all out and glam up in an elegant gala gown that shows off your silhouette. Add an asymmetrical slit to the equation and you’ve got yourselves a winner. Alluring high-low dresses with a subtle trail are always a winner. With gender neutrality on the rise, tuxedos are no longer limited to men. Improve the form with a cinched waist and shoulder pads and you’ll be sure to turn heads in the evening.

It’s best to leave the bright colors and catchy prints for a less formal event. Go for neutral or dark colors to go with your skin tone. For more formal occasions like white-tie you should choose fancier materials like silk, lace and chiffon. You can always throw on a glamorous wrap or chic gloves for a better finish.

Evening dresses generally look best paired with heels that add length to your legs, so you can bring out your highest, most glamorous pair. It being a formal event, leave the metallic, plastic and bright colored jewelry at home and instead opt for something classy. In formal wear your accessories should add to the aesthetics of your dress, not overshadow it.

Necklaces, bracelets, earrings – never wear the whole trinity at the same time! Instead opt for one or two understated accessories that will add just the right amount of glitter to your look. Complete your outfit with a sleek clutch – avoid handbags as they can add the stain of informal to otherwise perfectly elegant attire.


A black-tie optional event is still dressy. Yet it gives you more space to play around your comfort zone. The same goes for the dress-codes ‘semiformal’ and ‘creative black tie’. That means you can wear your floor-length gowns but no one will look twice if you decide to don a little black dress ala Chanel, or even an understated cocktail dress. Other options can include and off-shoulder jumpsuit, flowing skirts, dressy blouse, and formal corsets.

Finish it off with some espadrilles or boots – depending on your outfit. Top it off with statement jewelry that will shine up the evening for you.

Business Formal

How to Dress for a Formal Evening

For business formal events you should dress much as you would for a very important presentation, or a meeting with the CEO. Think: polished dress, power suits, pencil skirts and well-tailored blazers. The idea is to look gorgeous without looking inappropriately provocative. Save the flashy, bold outfits for the more colloquial occasions.

Style the look with gorgeous heels or wedges, flats are a big no-no and don’t even think about your sneakers. Keep the jewelry minimalistic like a simple diamond pendant, or a pair of dangling earrings. If all else fails, nothing says formal like a string of pearls.

Last, but not least

A golden rule for formal occasions is to avoid that part of the closet filled with your comfort wear. No pain, no gain. Tee-shirts, pyjamas, sneakers are all a major no no – even if you’re going for something on the creative side.

And as for the last super-secret tip: smile. It’s the best jewel a woman can adorn and can beautify any outfit you’ve assembled. A confident woman is sure to radiate charm and grace.

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