Text by Heather Seftel-Kirk

Black tie events can be great fun and the perfect opportunity to glam up. Take advantage of the chance to show your inner princess.

If you want to be technical you should know there are subtle differences (more so for the guys than the gals) when it comes to these formal affairs. Invitation terminology varies from black-tie to white tie, black-tie optional to black-tie preferred and formal to semi-formal. Unless it’s a white tie, which is usually reserved for royalty, dress for women is typically the same for each type of event.

For formal soirees take full advantage of the opportunity and dress for the night. Get your hair done (a simple classic updo without too much pouf), pick up some new make-up or jewellery or get a stylist to consult on your best look for the evening. Ladies’ clothing styles will range from cocktail to long dresses and even dressy evening separates can be a go so you have lots of options depending on your personal taste.

Whichever style you choose remember that fashion sense goes a lot further than cleavage and opt on the conservative side, especially if you’re not sure who else is in attendance. Above the knee is OK but not too far above; slits are OK but not too high on the leg is best. Floor length gowns are classic and come in enough variety of styles that you’re sure to find exactly what you want. While this may not be a Hollywood red carpet affair you want to feel like you could be there, so look for flattering rather than stand out looks. Glitter is OK in moderation – such as a classy glittery top with simple satin pants.

Whatever style you choose take advantage of the special occasion with a special occasion material. While you wouldn’t wear these for everyday, formal events are the perfect time to add a touch of elegance with satin, taffeta, chiffon, sateen, brocade, rayon and lace. If it’s a dance event look for materials that flow and move with you and aren’t too warm. If you hope to spend any time on the ballroom floor you don’t want to be wearing heavy velvet that will leave you overheated.

Preference should be given to colors that are more muted and subtle. Neons and bright hues will make you stand out in a way you don’t want at a formal affair. Stick to basic blacks or creams if you aren’t sure. If you absolutely love wearing color make it muted shades that are classy, not brassy. Pale pinks, blues, yellow, even shades of purple, can be elegant and beautiful in the right style and shade. Red is a good color if it’s one that works for you and if you want a look that stands out.

Jewellery should be real or simple. This isn’t the time for chunky beads or diamond earrings so big that if they were real you’d need a bodyguard. You want the whole you to shine rather than the fake bling around your neck or dangling from your ears.

Black tie events for most people don’t come around every day. When you get the chance to go make it a special night out and make sure you get your Cinderella look.

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