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How to Dress Formally Without Feeling Uncomfortable
Formal clothes are infamous for being uncomfortable, but they do not need to be. Feel and look your best by choosing pieces that fit the occasion and flatter your build. Stick with styles, colors, cuts, and accessories you feel relaxed and confident in. If all else fails, have a backup plan in case some of your garments prove less comfortable than you hoped. Keeping yourself mentally and physically comfortable is key to enjoying any formal event.
Choosing Appropriate and Flattering Clothes
Asses the formality of the event.This information might be included on the event invitation. It’s important you dress for the occasion, because being under-dressed will likely make you feel uncomfortable during the event. The phrase “formal attire” is used broadly, but there are specific expectations for different levels of the formal dress code.
- White tie: typically reserved for diplomatic events or prestigious award ceremonies, this level of formality calls for a tailcoat, white vest and tie, and gloves for men, and a floor-length evening gown with optional gloves for women.
- Black tie: for men, this means a stroller or morning dress for daytime events, and tuxedos for evening events. For women black tie means a cocktail dress or long gown, and the choice can be guided by what the event host is expected to wear.
- Black tie optional/preferred: for men, either a dark suit with bow tie or a tuxedo. For women, black tie optional means a cocktail dress, a long dress, or dressy separates. The host will likely wear black tie, but guests are allowed some flexibility.
- Creative/themed black tie: for men, colorful shirts and bow ties are encouraged, along with appropriate accessories. For women, a trendy gown would be a good option.
- Cocktail: for men, a dark suit and tie will suffice. For women, a short dress, including the classic Little Black Dress, is called for.
- Festive: this dress code usually means cocktail with holiday flair. Choose colors and accessories accordingly.
Pick clothing that makes you look your best.Confidence in your attire will make you feel confident about yourself.Think about colors and wardrobe pieces you’ve received compliments on, and use these as a starting point for putting together your ensemble.
Address your problem areas.If you have short legs, wear heeled shoes that elongate the leg. If you have excess weight around your stomach, a well-cut sports jacket can create a nice silhouette. De-emphasize the areas of your body that you feel self-conscious about by choosing cuts and styles that mask them.
Play up your positives.If you have fantastic arms, don a sleeveless dress. If your chest is trim, consider a slim-fit button-up shirt. If your eyes are an arresting deep brown, wear a color that makes them stand out. Drawing attention to the parts of your body you love will make the parts you feel uncomfortable about less noticeable, improving your overall confidence level in the process.
Let your clothes inspire self-confidence.Formal attire makes us feel powerful. The external change can create internal change. Use that positive surge to carry yourself with your head held high throughout the event.
Paying Attention to Details
Have your outfit tailored to fit.If you can afford it, take your dress, suit, or other formal attire to a tailor for a proper fitting. The right hems will keep you from tripping up the entire evening, and a proper fit that conforms to your body perfectly will leave you feeling confident and at ease.
Groom your face.Trim or shave facial hair the day before the event so your skin is not irritable on the day of.If you’d like to wear a little makeup, choose one facial feature to play up while keeping the rest of the look neutral.
Style your hair simply.Choose a style that you can set and forget. If you’re worried about strays and frizz throughout the event, you won’t be at ease.If you want a fresh cut for the event, have it done in time for your hair to relax into the new length and style.
Wear a shoe you can handle.High heels may make you look great, but if you are not accustomed to them, they will hurt your feet. Oxfords with a tight vamp will pinch throughout the event. Choose a formal shoe that feels comfortable and familiar.
Break your shoes in before the event.No matter what shoes you decide on, you should wear them a few times before the occasion itself. Wear them around the house, but keep them looking clean and polished. This allows the shoe to conform to your foot, which will make you feel more comfortable during the event itself.
Upgrade your outfit with smart jewelry.A bit of sparkly jewelry can turn a plain ensemble into formal attire.
- Shirt studs, cufflinks, and tie pins provide a chance to add a touch of personality to a suit or tuxedo.
- A stylish watch will catch the eye when it peeks from beneath your cuff.
- A necklace and bracelet combination with sturdy clasps can be topped off with simple gemstone stud earrings.
Planning For Mishaps
Carry foot pads and blister bandages.If your shoes start to get uncomfortable throughout the course of the night, you can always run off to a quiet corner and remedy the situation by applying whatever gel pad, insole, or bandage you need in order to get you comfortably back on your feet.
Bring extra hair accessories, earring backs, and some safety pins.These will help you keep your look together if you should you drop a curl, a stud, or a hem.
Cover your arms with the right coat, jacket, cape, or shawl.If the temperature takes a sudden drop, you will have a means of keeping yourself warm. Choosing a cover-up as a part of your outfit keeps you looking sharp even when the weather turns.
Consider carrying a small clutch with a detachable shoulder strap.The clutch is considered the most formal type of handbag, and the strap gives you the option of either carrying it comfortably over your shoulder or in your hands. A clutch is a fashionable way to carry your backup items.
QuestionIs a maxi dress suitable for a farewell party?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, if you wore it with sandals or open high heels. If it's a more formal event, make sure it's a maxi dress with maybe not too much of a pop of color, but more monochromatic.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I wear to a formal school dance?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhat you wear to a school dance should make you feel attractive and confident, yet it shouldn't be too uncomfortable. If you're a boy, I would recommend getting a well-fitting suit or jacket. If that's too warm, try to wear light, breathable materials. If you're a girl, you might try wearing a dress made of soft fabric, and its material and length would be dependent on the weather/temperature. If dresses aren't really your thing, you might be able to pull off a dressy top and capris. The most comfortable shoe options are flats, short high heels, or pumps. If you choose to wear heels or pumps, make sure that you can walk in them and that they're the correct size so you don't fall.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I be comfortable dressed so nicely?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJersey dresses are always a good pick if you want to be super comfortable and look just as nice.Thanks!
Is a net maxi appropriate for a farewell party?
Can I knot my shirt buttons to the top without using a tie?
- Get an idea for what to wear by looking at pictures of similar events held in the past. If you are attending a recurring event, try to find pictures from the event itself during previous years.
- There’s no need to hide your style to dress formally. Take care to select an ensemble that merely presents a polished version of yourself.
- If the invitation does not provide you with enough details about the dress code, ask the host directly, or ask another guest.
- Err on the side of being overdressed rather than under-dressed.
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