Archive for the ‘formal wear’ Category
I haven’t posted for a while – it seems the day job has been keeping me busier than usual! A flurry of social events, meetings and client activities means my wardrobe has been put to the test.
In the past two weeks alone, I will have been to a couple of cocktail parties, a black-tie gala, a book launch, donor recognition event and an auto show (for a client).
Having a flexible wardrobe means having the ability to shift gears (no pun intended) quickly and still be suitably attired for each event. What works for me:
- A couple of go-to cocktail dresses that work in all seasons. That means sleeves or a bolero jacket to cover up, plus a couple of stylish wraps.
- A formal gown for the one or two times a year we attend black-tie functions. See my earlier post on the challenges of finding a suitable evening gown that isn’t either Princess Barbie or Queen Mother in style.
- Lots of separates that can be combined – jackets and trousers or skirts provide a great range of possibilities.
- Dresses – because they are a complete outfit. Just add shoes and accessories and you’re good to go.
- A few great suits, for business meetings or more conservative events.
- A large range of shoes – gentlemen, in case you’re wondering why we have so many, it’s because we have to not only be appropriately attired, but also seek some comfort and the ability to change them up after a long week.
What works for you?
When considering options, nothing compares to the style and comfort of a dress. Dresses come complete. Top and bottom, perfectly cut, matched and coordinated. Dresses always look more chic than anything else a woman can wear (in public). Dresses are cool when it’s hot. And, with tights, dresses are comfy when it’s chilly.
Dresses hide a multitude of issues. Tuck a tummy, hide your hips, lengthen your legs. Dresses are appropriate for work, play, special occasion, picnics, dances… Dresses are flexible – worn with a jacket for day, a wrap for evening.
A dress with pearls is sophisticated. A dress with a wooden bead necklace is bohemian. Blingy costume jewelry adds sparkle.
Ballet flats or stilettos, boots or booties. Ah, a dress. Is there anything it can’t do? Tomorrow, slip into a dress and see how it instantly makes you feel better.
Today I went shopping for a formal gown to wear to an upcoming black-tie charity event. Formal wear is a tricky area for women over 50. How to look fab and not frumpy? Why are so many gowns such a nightmare (think “Mother of the bride”)? Heavy polyester fabrics that leave you scared to get too close to an open flame. Dresses bedazzled with sequins and rhinestones on the theory if a little is good then a lot must be better! Matronly jackets over shapeless tent dresses. Catastrophic colours like dusty rose or mint green.
At the other end of the spectrum are little strapless numbers that are just perfect for girls headed to their grad proms. Young women can pull off a broader range of figure-hugging styles in bold jewel tones, shocking pink, fluorescent green or brilliant blue. They can also handle considerably more sequins and rhinestones than older women. Good for them, not so good for us.
It can be difficult, as a mature woman, to find a style that is chic and elegant. Fortunately I was able to find a lovely black gown that features a soft chiffon skirt and sassy black and white bodice and matching bolero jacket. Silver threads are woven into the jacket and bodice giving a little sparkle without being tacky. This style gives me room to add some bling – either glittering chandelier style earrings and a chunky cuff, or a statement necklace and cocktail ring (not both). The key to elegance here is to select accessories in proportion to the gown that add to the outfit, but not overwhelm. It’s important to ensure you don’t look like you’re wearing the entire contents of your jewelry box!
I added some delicate sparkly silver sandals that balance the bodice and bolero jacket. Simple elegance.
Here’s a summary of my tips for formal evenings:
- See your hairstylist for an updo – it adds elegance to any outfit
- Choose jewelry and accessories carefully – they should accent not overwhelm
- Wear shapewear to smooth your silhouette – many gowns cling to the body
- Wear full hosiery (not knee hi’s) under a long gown. Some women forget about slits in the side or back!
- Get a manicure. Your hands are on display at dinner events.
- Choose a delicate clutch that complements your dress and jewelry. Proportion and balance are the keys.
- When you have finished dressing, review your look in a full length mirror. Consider whether you need to modify your accessories or jewelry. Keep “elegance” in mind.
What are your best tips for formal events? I’d love to hear from you.