You always strive to awesome, and more so when it’s for a special occasion. But, a shopping trip to find the best formal attire for women can sometimes be a stressful one, given that there are so many types of formal dress for ladies. It can take the joy out of the entire experience. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. A few tips are all that are needed to make the experience fun while looking fantastic at that special event.
We provide professional advice on selecting elegant formal clothing for woman. The wealth of information that you will find on this site covers everything from accessorizing outfits to finding clothes that genuinely flatter your figure. We’ll also share the top places to shop for a formal outfit for ladies at an affordable price, and it won’t involve skimping on quality. It’s all about always looking your best when you have a realistic budget.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Is Formal Attire for a Woman?
- 2 Best Formal Attire for Women
- 3 White Tie Dress Code
- 4 Black Tie Dress Code
- 5 Black Tie Event
- 6 Black Tie Optional Dress Code
- 7 Creative Black Tie
- 8 Cocktail Party
- 9 Festive Dress Code
- 10 Formal Business Attire for Women
- 11 Semi-Formal Attire for Women
- 12 Formal Shoes & Accessories
- 13 Styles of Formal Shoes
- 14 Formal Evening Bags
- 15 Formal Jewelry
What Is Formal Attire for a Woman?
One of the challenges that women face is not knowing the dress code. In this article, you will find information on what you should wear for cocktail parties, weddings, garden parties, balls, proms, and evenings/meals out. You will also find information on formal office attire for women and what you should wear for semi-formal occasions.
Knowing what to wear and when can be mystifying, which is why many women struggle with when choosing even the most simple formal attire. It can take all of the excitement and fun out of shopping for that perfect dress, leaving you feeling stressed instead of elated. Knowing the basics of each formal dress code will definitely make this a much simpler task.
Best Formal Attire for Women
The first thing you’ll want to know is the formality level, such as semi-formal, white tie, black tie and business formal. Most invitations will specify the dress code, eliminating much of the guess work. It is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with each of the codes, though.
White Tie Dress Code
Also, referred to as full evening dress, a white tie dress code involves wearing the most formal attire for ladies. It’s also a rare dress code to come across, being used for evening events such as a royal ceremony, ball or wedding. Your dress would need to be a floor-length evening gown, no exceptions. Think Cinderella! Accessories would include long gloves.
Traditionally, a gown would show off a woman’s decolletage, meaning a dress with a low neckline. It’s OK to wear striking jewelry, such as a tiara, and your evening bag should be elegant and small. You can top it off with elegant wrap, formal evening coat or cloak.
Black Tie Dress Code
Black Tie female formal attire fall somewhere between White Tie and Semi-formal, and there are variations on the black tie dress code; Black Tie, Black Tie Optional and Creative Black Tie.
Black Tie Event
One perception that many mistakenly make is that a black tie event outfit needs to be conservative, but this is not the case. Formal wear for women at a black tie event tends to be a full-length gown, however it is also acceptable to wear a dress that is shorter in length. You can get away with wearing a cocktail dress but the best recommendation is opting for a gown. A gown can have a full skirt or be form fitting, more modern in design or your dressiest little black dress. Just be sure that the dress is a classy one and not something that is too revealing.
Black Tie Optional Dress Code
This dress code is a bit more casual, allowing women more options. Basically, you can choose anything from a long gown to a cocktail dress, as long as it meets the criteria. A dress that just grazes the ankles, your special little black number, or classy separates are all good choices.
Creative Black Tie
This is a code that allows for a bit of fun and is often used as the code for themed parties. You can either go with the theme of the event of just choose a dress that is a bit more trendy. You can dress things up with some unique and fun pieces of jewelry or accessories.
While a cocktail event isn’t as strictly formal as the others mentioned so far, they are far from casual. So the key here is to keep things in balance. Women can choose a dress that is shorter and “party ready”, or go for a skirt and blouse that is formal. Dressy trousers paired with a classy sweater will work as well. Just keep in mind that it needs to look classy and elegant, not as if you were going out clubbing. Steer clear of outfits that flashy or that reveal a bit too much.
Festive Dress Code
We usually see this type of dress code for holiday parties, which is like the cocktail dress code but with a bit of a holiday feel to it. Think sparkly, sequined or satin, as well as opting for holiday colors. For example, for a festive Christmas event you could choose a sparkly red dress, or a satin green skirt paired with a classy blouse.
Formal Business Attire for Women
A business formal event tends to be a semi-formal daytime event, such as conferences and work lunches, or attending court. So, opting for a pantsuit or dress that is tailored is recommended. Your outfit should be business appropriate but a bit dressed up. A tailored suit, a dress with a jacket or a dress that is business styled are good choices. Pair this with low heals or flats.
Your choice of formal attire for ladies would depend on the where you were going. For example, a simple blouse and skirt may be fine for a business lunch but be considered not professional enough for an important business meeting.
For office attire for women, your main focus should be on purchasing a business suit or outfit that compliments your body type and fits well. One of the biggest errors that many women make is to go with a suit that is too tight and can ruin the overall look of the ensemble. You may want to have this type of outfit tailored to your body style by a professional.
Semi-Formal Attire for Women
This would be the next step down from the black tie dress code and includes events, such as dinners, garden parties, or as a guest to a wedding. Cocktail dresses, a skirt that is long and dressy paired with a blouse, a suit or dressy separates are all good options. It will also depend on whether the event is held in the morning or evening. If the event takes place before 6:00 p.m. it is considered a morning, or daytime semi-formal occasion. After that time you would go for evening semi-formal attire for women.
Something else to take into consideration is the season or time of year, as well as whether the event will be an indoor or outdoor one. If the event were to be an outdoor summer garden party for example, you would want to go with colors that are bright and fit the mood of the occasion. For an indoor winter event, darker colors are a good choice.
The safest option is to go with a cocktail dress that falls at knee-length, an option that balances formal and casual into a classy look. Always keep your body type in mind and choose attire that will not only accent and flatter your best features, but minimize the areas you want to draw attention away from.
Formal Shoes & Accessories
You know how to find that perfect dress, but what about the shoes and accessories? Shoes are just as important when choosing an outfit as your dress is. Typically, you would purchase shoes that match the color of your gown and are fit for the occasion. Many dress shops will offer a shoe dying service as well, to get that perfect match to your dress, or add elegant appliques of gemstones around the shoe to dress it up a bit.
Whilst wearing those glamorous high-heeled shoes may seem like a wonderful idea, you do need to consider how well you cope in heels to begin with. Its alright to opt for a 1 to 2 inch kitten heel hat matches your gown, rather than going for high-heeled shoes that could have you feeling awkward when walking around.
Styles of Formal Shoes
Formal attire for females isn’t overly restrictive with respect to shoes. You can choose from a selection of fashionable styles:
Pumps – These can come in a variety of styles and colors, can have a pointed or rounded toe and tend to be made of leather. Heels are usually at least 2 inches and have long been considered the shoe of the working woman, so they work well for those formal business events. They have come quite a long way though, with styles such as peep toe and ankle strapped, as well as now being made in a variety of materials.
Slingbacks – These also have a pointed or rounded toe, a bit of a heel, and a strap that starts from the ankle and pulls up around the back of the foot, leaving an exposed heel. These can be very nice for garden and outdoor events in the warmer weather.
High-heeled shoes – As their name implies, a high heeled shoe has a heel that can range from over 2 inches and gives the effect of walking on one’s tip toes. Not everyone is comfortable wearing heels that are too high though, and its best to go with a lower heel rather than stumbling about in heels that are too difficult to walk in.
Never opt for a shoe that looks like a slipper, such as ballet flats, as these are considered more casual than formal.
Formal Evening Bags
The same rule of thumb goes for evening bags as for shoes; it should match or accent your gown, should be small and hand held. Basically, you want to balance between it being functional and aesthetic. Most tend to choose a bag with no strap or a very thin strapped clutch bag. Many make the mistake of opting for a plain black bag, feeling this gives a classic look.
You don’t have to be boring however, where your bag is concerned. You can choose a color that matches or accents your dress or, if you choose to go with black, make it one that has a bit of sparkle to it. One rule of thumb; if your entire dress is done up in sequins or glitter, don’t go for a bag that is also full on sequined of glittery, otherwise it looks overdone.
The fun thing about formal wear for women is that you can really wow them with intricate pieces of jewelry. It’s that one occasion where it’s alright to wear a necklace dripping in gemstones. You can use color to accent the overall look, or add a bold but tasteful splash of color to a black gown. If you are wearing a gown that exposes the decolletage area, an elegant necklace will look lovely. Just keep it simple and don’t overload on the glitzy jewelry
Shopping for formal clothing for women has become easier in this day and age, with a variety of shops selling quality outfits for affordable prices. If you’re pretty confident with your body shape and other preferences, online shopping can be a great option for you. You can find lovely dresses from makers, such as Ever Pretty and Grace Karin.
With these tips and tricks to help you choose the best formal attire for women, you are sure to step out looking classy and sophisticated while enjoying the event you are attending.