Find out how formal the event is. There are lots of different terminology for formal occasions and you’ll need to know where the event falls to know how to dress. Check with the party organizers, because being overdressed typically won’t impress people.
- Formal and semi-formal are quite different. For a more formal occasion you’d need to wear a tuxedo whereas semi-formal would allow a dark suit instead.
- An event that’s at night is going to be different than an event that happens in the day. For example: if it’s a semi-formal during the day cocktail dresses, or a light-colored suit and tie combination will be what you’d wear.
Familiarize yourself with the different terms. There are a variety of different formal and semi-formal occasions where you’ll need to know what the best outfit might be, if you want to impress. Evening drinks parties, weddings, even birthdays can be a formal event!
Formal events require that men sport a complete suit. This means tie, cufflinks. Some of the trendier cities have formal events where it’s allowable to come wearing a suit bit no tie. For women, formal events can be a little vague. You can do a cocktail dress, a stylish suit, or a full-on evening gown.
Black tie for men means black tailcoat, black trousers with two satin seams on the outside legs, a white bow tie, with black or gold cull links and studs. Again, for women you can vary it between cocktail dress, suit, or evening gown.
A cocktail party (like an early evening drinks party) means for men a dark suit. Since this is less formal you have more room for creativity (different colored dress shirts and ties and so on). For women it means cocktail dresses (these are less formal than full length evening gowns).
Have the right footwear. You want your footwear to go with your outfit and to enhance your outfit. Fortunately for formal occasions unlike, say, interviews, this is when you can break out the more exciting and fun types of shoes.
Heels are always appropriate for dress occasions, as long as you can walk in them. Shoes that are sparkly can be a lot of fun and give you a bit of a sparkle.
In most formal occasions dress shoes for guys are a must. Make sure that they aren’t scuffed or dirty and that they go with your outfit.
Break out the accessories. Accessories were made to enliven and individualize your outfit. Make sure that you’re not overloading your outfit. The right balance is different for everyone and for different occasions, but you’ll need to avoid too many accessories.
Purses and jewelry can be great additions to your outfit. Make sure that they match what you’re wearing. For example: if you’re wearing a red dress, you can match it with gold jewelry and a gold purse, or black jewelry and a black purse, and so on.
Make-up can also enhance an outfit. For evening, or formal wear you may want to try out something a little more dramatic than the typical smokey eye or natural make-up.
Cuff-links and tie pins can be great additions to a man’s outfit. If you have a date, try to match their color scheme with your accessories.