Helen Mirren – My favorite fashion role model dressing up.
Dressing up for a formal occasion can be fun. The invitation comes in the mail, and as you open the envelope, you’re already getting excited about the festive event. And then you see it. At the very bottom. “Black tie.” Or maybe “white tie.” What the heck is the difference? Following is your guide on how to dress up for the most formal celebrations.
A safe rule of thumb when deciding what to wear to a black-tie affair is this: the greater the effort put into hosting an event, the more formal the guests should be. Using this as a guide, you would dress up more for a wedding reception (drinks, dinner, dancing, and assorted festivities) than for a cocktail party (drinks and hors d’oeuvres).
Floor-length, tea-length, and short dresses are all appropriate. The length of a dress depends on your age and your legs—for obvious reasons. How much skin you show also hinges on how old you are and what shape your body is in.
Sparkly jewelry can help elevate a simple dress, but should be avoided if the dress itself has a lot of bling. Depending on the style of the dress, wear either a statement necklace or statement earrings—not both—and a bracelet. A dress for a black-tie celebration need not be black, but it’s always a safe choice.
White-tie events are super formal, so a glorious floor-length gown is the way to go. Evening sandals or pumps, a dressy evening bag, and elegant jewelry are the perfect complement.
As we get older, dressing up becomes more of a challenge. The decision to show skin is more calculated. Plus sizes are difficult to find. (A recent search on a major department store website indicated 1214 evening dresses…only three of which were “special sizes.”) It’s wise to work with a personal shopper or savvy salesperson when making a purchase for a dressy event. She knows the store’s stock, and if she’s a pro, she’ll know what works best for you.