How To Dress Formal

Don’t let an invitation get the best of you; learn how to dress formal and be ready to face those slick pieces of mail without fear and attend events without looking like a dunce. A black tie event requires formal wear, as do events that state black tie optional. These are only slightly different.

  1. A black tie event typically calls for a tuxedo, or the equivalent Traditionally, daytime dress formal means wear a black or gray tailcoat or walking coat with matching trousers. This is a rare look these days, except for weddings or formal diplomatic receptions in Europe, but it is always good to know the guidelines for such events. Add a double-breasted vest, long tie, gloves and nice cufflinks. A tall hat and boutonniere makes for a complete morning dress, which is the other name for daytime formal.
  2. Evening formal, even black tie optional events, still call for a tuxedo or dark suit. Pair the suit with a white shirt, dark silk tie, or bright color or pattern with a matching handkerchief if you want to express a little personality. Be sure the tie is of good quality and tied with a classic knot if you are attending a formal evening event.
  3. Dress formal does not allow for even the nicest T-shirt, polo or open collar dress shirt. Choose a fitted dress shirt for the best look. Have a nice button down tailored to your body for a designer look for less.
  4. Nice shoes are a must to dress formal. Don’t skimp on quality here, you may think no one will notice, but trust me, they do. Choose black for a traditional and safe choice or depending on the suit, brown or ox blood will also fit in nicely.
  5. Attend to detail. Wear a nice watch, not the Swatch or plastic number from the corner store. No watch is better than a cheap watch. Match the belt to your shoes, put on cufflinks and make sure you are impeccably groomed when you need to dress formal.
  6. Wool is your best choice when choosing a formal suit. Worsted wool is nice for spring and summer events. Wool crepes have a soft finish and are lightweight while gabardine and flannel wool is heavier.
  7. Official dress formal events call for strict adherence to the rules. Other events can be tweaked to your particular liking, but in order to look stylish and make a good impression, you will want to conform.  
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