Reader, good friend and all round fabulous person Jess has written in with the following enquiry:
Hi Lovely Ladies! My partner has organised for us to attend a black tie event in Europe in July (I know I know I’m spoilt!)… This former farm girl is freaking out a little as to what the hell I should be wearing??? As always really appreciate your fantastic advice!
Firstly you are more than welcome Jess and secondly here are some thoughts on a black tie event:
- Go all out in one area only – it is tempting to go OTT when you go to some fancy schmancy event but I would say that if your gown has a lot of WOW factor keep everything else simple and complimentary. Alternatively if the Queen has lent you the crown jewels for the evening keep your hair simple and off your face so that they can be seen easily.
- Save a bit of cash – borrow some family heirlooms, if you are like me and you are rarely at these type of events save some cash and ask the ladies in your family or friendship group to loan you some appropriate bling. Of course the other way to bling it up on a budget is to get some costume jewelry and there is no problem with that at all, but if your nana has a string of natural pearls that would help you rock your frock I say pop around for a cup of tea, give her a big hug and ask a favour. With regard to a dress, you might already have something in your wardrobe which is the ultimate way of saving money. If you are on a tight budget and someone you know is the same size they may be able to lend you something or you can scout around for a formal dress on sale, they can be elusive but great bargains pop up, especially around change of season.
- The ultimate dilemma – If you can find a great dress with pockets in it you can ignore the rest of this advice but chances are that you wont be able to. So the next best thing is a bag that is something between a purse and an actual bag. For this type of event, especially if there may be dancing (yay!!!!!!), I’d get one that you can slip on your wrist and at the very least fit a credit card/ some notes, your key, some lip gloss and your phone in. You can usually forgo all the other stuff you carry around with you for one night. Bags that are too bulky will spoil the look. Clutches that can’t be attached to your body in some way can also be annoying because at some point you’ll probably need to put it down (Canapes and Bubbles FTW) and not all black tie events are sit down affairs.
- Give yourself permission to shine – now normally I am all about being budget conscious, no one has endless money but if it is truly a rare event I say take your self off to the hair dresser with a picture of the dress and the bling you are wearing and ask them to prep you accordingly, spoil yourself a little bit. If you can’t afford that you might still want to put a new colour in your hair or ask a friend to help you out so you feel super special on the night.
- Don’t be a slave to fashion – You will have an awesome time if you are comfortable (within reason, we can’t be friends anymore if you think black tie= your best uggs as footwear) so pick a dress you can breathe in. Designer labels often run small so make sure you’ve done a test of sitting down and bending over before you buy/ borrow the dress, if you feel like at any moment you are going to snap a rib go up a size, no one can see the label. I know I say this all the time but take the underwear you intend to wear along to any dress trying on sessions, great underwear is the foundation to any outfit but nothing spoils your new dress buzz like a bra that pokes out too far or VPL issues. Also think about how long you will be on your feet, if you are standing up all night you might want mid level heels rather than the awesome sky-high ones you’ve always wanted an excuse to wear.
- What Rules? – Social norms have changed and these days the only one left in place is if I can see you belly button either your top is too high or your skirt is too short. My main point is that you no longer need feel out-of-place at a Black Tie event in a very nice dress, you don’t have to wear a “gown”. You can also branch out and do colours so don’t worry too much about what colour you pick as long as it looks awesome on you. That being said it is a chance to wear a floor length dress and really have fun dressing up so the girly girl in me says do that!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
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