Don’t you just hate it when a special event invades your diary and you just haven’t got a thing to wear? Then, to make it worse, you realise that it’s definitely one of those truly special occasions when you’re probably going to have to wear something more upmarket, possibly even a dress.
The trouble is that most of us have shifted into trousers, some of us permanently, for virtually every occasion. We clean the house in them, weed the garden in them, do the shopping in them, go to work in them, slob around the house in them, and go out to the pub/dinner/theatre in them.
What to wear to a special event?
A dress? Or not a dress?
So when it comes to choosing whether to wear a dress, a lot of us go blank and wonder where on earth we’re going to start looking.
Never fear. Help is here!
Don’t jump to hasty conclusions.
Now before you go screaming off to the nearest shopping mall and rampage your way along the aisles with nothing more than a determined, “I’ve got to find something to wear” through gritted teeth, let’s take a moment to fathom out exactly what sort of outfit you actually need.
What sort of event is it?
If you’ve had a proper invitation (oh, don’t you just yearn for those halcyon days when your hostess told you exactly how to dress and saved you the stress of trying to fathom it out for yourself?) then one of the following might help you:
Black Tie or Formal
Amazingly, this means formal. Gentlemen wear tuxedos and ladies wear cocktail dresses, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
White Tie or Ultra-formal
Astoundingly, this means ultra-formal. Gentlemen wear full dress suits, with white tie, waistcoat and shirt. Ladies wear long gowns.
Black Tie Optional
Gentlemen have the option of wearing a tuxedo; a dark suit and tie is the only alternative as this is still a formal occasion. Ladies wear cocktail dresses, long dresses or dressy evening separates.
Creative Black Tie
This leaves room for a touch of creativity in a gentleman’s interpretation of formal wear; he could update a tuxedo with a black shirt and no tie. Ladies wear long or short cocktail dresses or evening separates.
This is the trickiest of all dress codes. Usually it means that tuxedos are not required, nor are long dresses.
- Daytime semi-formal events mean a suit for him and an appropriate short dress or dressy suit for her
- An evening wedding (after 6 pm) would still require a dark suit for him, and a cocktail dress for her
Translates into short, elegant dresses for her and dark suits for him.
Usually means no jeans or shorts. Similar to business casual, but a touch dressier.
Generally means anything goes. Informal can mean the same as casual. However, when associated with a wedding or other special event, some form of decorum and good taste should prevail. A dress or dressy suit for her or a nice pair of non-suit trousers and shirt for him are informal, but still respectful of the event.
In ‘what to wear part 2‘ we look at what to do if you haven’t received a ‘proper invitation’.
If you love fashion and styling here are two online courses for you: