The first thing to consider when dressing for an event is the invitation. Is it semi-formal? Black tie? Also consider the hosts, the theme and the setting of the party. Whether you are hosting, attending or merely accompanying someone, dressing appropriately is important. You do not want to look too underdressed for a formal event. Being overdressed is always advisable as you can convert your formal look to a less formal one at any time, simply by getting rid of a few pieces such as a jacket or a tie.
Preparation Is Key
Is the event a wedding? A dinner party? A graduation ball? Dress accordingly. If you have limited experience dressing for formal events, you can always check with the hosts or ask around for advice. No one will judge you if the invitation does not mention the dress code and you are unsure about the attire. Planning your outfit beforehand is especially important for a formal event and you do not want to rush around at the last minute.
Stick to the Dress Code
Normally it is easier to dress for a formal event than for a casual one, as there is a dress code to follow. You might find that it is impossible to stick to a personal style as the dress code demands a sense of uniformity. For instance, you cannot afford to dress too flamboyantly for a traditional wedding. You could always rent a suit or tux if you cannot afford one or have no time. The secret to this style is to blend in rather than stand out.
Black tie is a formal affair and you will be expected to look elegant and well groomed. The preferred attire for men is a suit, also called a tux in America. A black evening jacket, black trousers, waistcoat and white dress shirt are staples for this outfit. A black bow tie and mens shoes complete the look. Choose a well-shined pair of black Oxfords, which are light on the feet and will let you glide effortlessly on the dance floor. White tie events are rare these days and most people will probably never have to attend one in their life. White tie is more formal than black tie and the chosen attire for men is the tailcoat.
For a more relaxed setting such as an intimate dinner party, choose a dark suit or an evening shirt with black trousers. A tie is optional. For a daytime affair you could try a suit in a lighter shade. Just remember to avoid jeans! This look has gained popularity over the past decades as dress standards have become more laid-back. Thus you need not worry about renting or buying a suit. Just pay attention to the colour scheme and stay away from bold prints and bright colours. As for shoes and accessories, match a leather belt and a pair of dressy shoes with your outfit. Wear black or dark brown shoes with a pair of dark coloured socks.
Dressing for a formal event can be an enjoyable experience. Keep it simple, yet classy.