Special Occasions To Wear A Formal Dress

Special Occasions To Wear A Formal Dress

November 30, 2022
By Meg Rose

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Formal dresses are the only way to go when you need to look fancy, and we hope you never run out of events to dress up for. But ensuring that you deliver a formal dress when it counts and don’t come off as overdressed when it doesn’t is an important balancing act and we are here to help.

Queenly is here to give you a list of the top occasions where a gown is not only at home but completely called for. While there might be a few other events where you can and should wear a formal dress, we want you to have at least a basic set of events to help guide you on your way.

Wedding Guest

The first event we want to talk about is a wedding. Regardless of the season, a formal dress is pretty much mandatory for this event. These events are generally black tie, but even if they are a business casual dress code, a formal dress is a necessity when planning for someone’s wedding.

If you’re planning on attending a wedding in the summer, opt for lighter-colored dresses in a flowing silhouette. Ruffles, dusty pink, or satin dresses would be great for a wedding guest during this season. It will still read as a formal outfit but will have the appropriate vibes for the heat. The last thing you want is for you to sweat at an outdoor ceremony and have that show during the reception.

Maybe you’re attending a spring ceremony. Well, the same summer rules apply, but you can also add options in floral patterns. Flowers start to bloom during this season and while we realize it’s not a groundbreaking notion, paying homage to the budding bouquets will never go out of style. Weather in spring can be a bit unpredictable so bring a light cardigan or wrap to keep warm and still be fashionable.

Winter and fall weddings call for warmer colors in red and orange tones. It will match the turning leaves and they are complementary colors for most skin tones. If you want to channel your inner Elsa during the winter months, choose deep blue dresses in longer cuts that will keep you warm and looking trendy. We love the style of a high-slit formal gown with thigh-high boots, and this is a trend that is perfectly at home in the winter months.

Celebrate love in these adorable wedding guest dresses:

Gala Gal

Charity fundraising events like galas have the need for very formal attire. They are almost always black tie only, so you will need to go all out for an event such as this. Expect to wear a floor-length gown. While strapless options are acceptable here, the vibe for the evening is very seriously sophisticated, so something too low-cut is inappropriate at a gala.

If you have the need to show off some skin try a gown with a low back. It is a way to still be sexy and sultry but not insult the hosts of the evening. We would recommend an off-the-shoulder style as well if you want to keep it a little more covered but still have interesting details to catch the eye.

Turn heads in these classy gala looks:

Promming It

We know that prom is an event that calls for style with a bit of edge, and we also know that prom is an acceptable event to push the fashion envelope. But prom is also a special occasion that does call for a more formal dress than the average second period.

A prom is an event that you can go for any hemline in any pattern and neckline without being out of place. We definitely suggest that you play with different fabrics and styles before finding your perfect gown.

If you want to do a ball gown but add your own spin, try a pair of platform sneakers for a little rebellion. You could go for a short style but go a little extra with your accessories to add more of your personality to your prom look. Regardless of style, don’t wear jeans and a t-shirt to prom; your look doesn’t have to rival your future wedding day, but it should be more formal than a pep rally for homecoming.

Make it a night to remember in these trendy prom dresses:

Artsy Affair

Art galleries don’t usually call for the most formal attire in your wardrobe, but you need to dress up for an art show. These shows are the opportunities for artists to meet and greet with potential buyers and they need to be dressed up, which means that as a guest of the event you need to do the same.

Midi dresses in silk or satin material are great options for this type of event. They are formal but a simple and understated style, so walking around an art gallery where you will need to sometimes be in close proximity with other people will be perfect for getting around the rows of sculptures and paintings.

You can also go for a cocktail dress in a shorter cut, as this is an occasion where less fabric is better. Not to say you should go naked, but you don’t want to wear a ball gown to an art gallery. It will be cumbersome and probably irritate people as you bump into them constantly trying to move around.

Don’t be afraid to play with patterns and necklines at an art gallery. The vibe of the evening is art, and what better way to show your creative side than with your fashion sense. Plus, a plunging neckline or a dress with patterns of sequins or lace will be an interesting talking point with someone admiring the same portrait as you.

Be the art in these stylish dresses:

Networking Nights

Networking events are corporate events where you can mingle with industry leaders and peers to discuss opportunities for employment or collaboration interests. These events don’t have a need for floor-length gowns, but they do call for a formal dress code. You can’t conduct business and expect to be taken seriously in a hoodie, so plan on wearing something more sleek and sophisticated.

A networking event is a great time to show off a bit of personality, but keep it professional. We love the idea of an animal print as a special touch to your outfit for this type of occasion. Animal prints are trending right now in more subtle patterns and fabrics and they are a great touch for an outfit that can have style but have a professional side.

Another trend we would love to see at a networking event is a blazer-style dress. We love the boxy look of these shorter styles that cover up the top to really show off the length of your legs. We love the look of these garments that also utilize the 80’s style shoulder pad. It’s a look that breathes new life into an old trend and screams trend and creativity.

Put your best foot forward in these sophisticated looks:

Ceremony Situations

Ceremonies come in all forms; whether it’s a graduation, military, or awards for special achievements, these are all events that call for more formal attire.

Graduations generally take place in outdoor settings and the spring months, so plan for floral patterns, lighter colors, and weightless fabrics. Ruffles on sleeves or skirts is a great detail for outdoor events, as it provides movement and an airy detail to your look.

You can also do whites in satin or lace. This isn’t a wedding so you’re totally cleared to wear white to an event such as this. Which we do think is a great choice! White dresses are great for spring; they represent renewed energy and life and a graduation ceremony is a time for celebrating what you just accomplished and what you are going toward in your next journey.

Even if the graduation isn’t for you, wearing the color can symbolize your solidarity with the actual graduate. We love women supporting women so bonus points for being such a great cheerleader for someone in your life!

Military ceremonies and balls definitely call for something more formal than outdoor graduation, so think floor-length and more neutral colors. While ball gowns can be formal in bright colors and funky patterns, military events have a more serious undertone, so stick with muted colors and simple styles.

Do this to show your support for the event you are attending and to be respectful of those hosting the event. Military dress uniforms are limited color palettes and straight lines with zero pattern so keep in line with these rules and you’ll do just fine.

Awards ceremonies are dressy events but the tone of the evening depends on the type of award being presented. If you are at the White House being presented with anything, you want to go all out in formal attire. A floor-length gown is the only way to go for something of this nature. Ball gowns might be intrusive to mingling and walking, but an A-line dress with style and perfectly fitted is the way to go here.

Events of this nature get press so you will want to look your best. Color is acceptable but keep the patterns simple. You want to look sophisticated but stylish so go for a cut that hugs your body in places you want to showcase the most and remember to cover up with necklines to events here.

Awards for city officials and such will call for A-lines as well, but think of a midi length instead of a full floor length. You’ll be able to show more of your personality in a dress for this event but you’ll still be dressed appropriately for the seriousness of the day.

Awards for schools and such have the most casual vibe of these styles of events. You can wear ruffles, shorter dresses, or maybe even a great two-piece set. Whatever it is, the biggest rule here is going to be keeping little skin showing. This is a school event so keep the attention on those being honored.

Find the perfect fit with these dresses and jumpsuits:

Dress Up Dollface!

We are confident that sticking to these style rules will keep you looking formal and fashionable for any event you are looking forward to next year. Special occasions are a great time to show off your unique style but only in the right increments, and we know that sticking to our tips will always have you coming up roses.

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