Dressing for a Formal Event

by Doris Donnerman
(last updated January 13, 2016)

An invitation saying "black tie" used to mean formal evening dress, where rules were rigidly observed: men wore black dinner jackets and trousers, white dress shirts and black hand-tied bow ties; women wore long or short dresses in rich fabrics or the classic "little black dress."

Today's interpretation of black-tie formality is more relaxed, and personal style is acceptable: for men, colorful bow ties in rich fabrics, but still hand tied, are perfectly correct with or without a matching cummerbund—and women can wear nice pant suits.

The conventional dinner jacket can quite easily be exchanged for a brocade or velvet one. For formal summer occasions, light-colored linen suits as well as a white dinner jacket and black evening trousers are all acceptable dress.

Renting an evening outfit makes financial sense especially if yours is a once-in-a-lifetime function, if your weight fluctuates, or if you want to wear the most fashionable styles. Women's formal-wear rental agencies often have complete designer outfits for a fraction of the real cost. However, for men who have many black-tie engagements, buying a classic dinner jacket and trousers is a practical idea.

If you are looking to purchase eveningwear, rental shops may sell some of their stock. It is often also worth the effort to shop at second-hand and charity outlets or garage sales. Many outfits have hardly been worn and go for bargain prices. Look out for broken zippers, damaged linings, and heavy perspiration stains (which are rarely successfully cleaned). Moth holes and cigarette burns are also very expensive to repair.

For a good fit it is worth enquiring at your dry cleaners about alterations: sleeves can be shortened and hems expertly let down and taken up. Large sizes can be altered to several sizes smaller, but a small size can rarely be altered to a larger one.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


Getting Rid of Dark Circles under Your Eyes

While the dark circles may be a completely natural and normal part of life, they are something that does embarrass us and ...

Discover More

Preventing an Annual Crop of Weeds

Keeping weeds out of a garden or flowerbed seems to be a never-ending battle. What strategies can be used by the ...

Discover More

Dealing with Toilet Bowl Lime Scale

When most people here the term "lime scale" they think of problems in their bathtubs, showers, or maybe on the water ...

Discover More
More Beauty Tips

Which Type of Jeans Look Best on You?

The best jeans have a perfect fit that flatters your specific body type. Once you've determined the best cut of jean, ...

Discover More

Finding Quality Lingerie

While it's sometimes a great idea to shop at thrift and second-hand stores for clothing, it's best to buy lingerie brand ...

Discover More

Prom Fashion Basics for Girls

The number one rule to remember when choosing accessories for your Prom ensemble is never to overpower your dress. The ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured beauty tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is six more than 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured beauty tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)