The Ultimate Guide to Formal Dresses

Homecoming, weddings, evening parties, prom, and such occasions call for a formal dress. Since decoding the formal dress styles is a bit tricky since there are different levels of formality and different types of dresses that are suitable for each, keep on reading for our ultimate guide to formal dresses.

Decode the formal dress code of the occasion you’re attending to.

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ruffled black dress

There are actually different types of formal dress codes and knowing it will keep you stylish and occasion-appropriate. For instance, a woman attending a white-tie event should always wear a formal floor-length gown. Since a white tie attire is the most formal dress code of all, accessories may include a tiara or gloves. On the other hand, black tie is still considered formal but is more relaxed than white tie. This time, a woman can wear a formal floor-length gown, a formal gown in tea length, or even a shorter cocktail dress. On the contrary, a semi-formal event requires a formal outfit, though a formal gown is not expected.

Pick the right fabric of dress for the season and the occasion.

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Heavier fabrics such as velvet are normally worn only in cold weather, while light chiffon is better for warm weather. Chiffon is a thin, light, sheer fabric that drapes well and is often layered in a garment for opacity. Also, organza is a popular formal fabric, which is a sheer silk or silk-like woven material that has a moderate amount of body as opposed to a very stiff or very free-flowing fabric. Has a crisper finish than organza, taffeta is another silky fabric that’s more opaque and has more sheen to it. Also, some fancy materials include some that are familiar, such as velvet, silk, satin, and lace.

Opt for a dress style that flatters your body type and proportions.

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Formal dresses are cut distinctively, so you must go for ones that flatter your proportions. For instance, a column or sheath style is a straight but not fitted line with a narrow skirt, usually with a simple design, while mermaid style has a distinctive flare to skirt beginning at about the knee or lower, like the body and tail of a mermaid. The most universally flattering style, fit-and-flare dress has a fitted bodice and flared skirt for where the skirt’s flare starts higher than the trumpet and mermaid styles. A-line or princess style has fitted bodice that leads to a skirt that tapers outward evenly from waist to hemline, like the letter “A”, while a ballgown style has a fitted bodice with a full, dramatic skirt that resembles the style “Cinderella” is often depicted wearing.

Pay attention to the dress length suited for the occasion.

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While a white-tie affair always requires a floor- or full-length gown, black-tie allows for some leeway with gown or dress length. If you’re attending a white-tie event make sure your dress comes to the floor and conceals the shoes. You may go for a dress with a train, an extension of fabric at the back of the hemline, or go for full style where your hemline reaches your feet but stops short of the floor. If you’re attending semi formal or cocktail parties, ballerina lengths that ends above the ankle with a full skirt, or a tea length for where the hemline comes to about the middle of the calf would be perfect. Also, mini lengths that come to the thigh are only appropriate for cocktail attire, not formal ones.

By knowing these dress codes, you’ll be able to dress appropriate for your upcoming party while looking glamorous on your formal dresses.

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