What To Wear To A Formal

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The key to formal wear is to not over think everything! Narrow down a key trend or look you like and go from there. Statement necklaces go well with plain dresses, whilst simple hair and minimal accessories compliment detailed or patterned dresses, it’s all a balancing act!

What To Wear To A Formal - Women's Clothing

The Dress – the dress you wear to your formal event is of the utmost importance and sets the tone for the rest of the outfit and your night. If you’re feeling comfortable and classy you’ll exude confidence and have a great time. In most cases you will need a long dress. There are so many different styles of long dresses, even if you are not usually a long dress wearer, you’re bound to find something that suits your body shape. Do your homework and online is the perfect place to do that. Have a look at White Runway for evening wear styles in just about every colour of the rainbow and many different styles and cuts.

The Shoes – opt for something that compliments the colour choice of your dress and something you can walk in. There’s nothing worse than someone who either can’t walk in their heels, or doesn’t enjoy themselves (aka won’t dance) due to sore feet on the night. There are plenty of platform options that give you a bit more comfort and plenty of style. No matter what you do, don’t take your shoes off. Ever.

The Makeup – keep the makeup classy and opt for lots of colour on the eye or the lip and not both. You want to look gorgeous and clowns aren’t gorgeous! In our opinion anyway! A soft lip with a smokey eye, or a strong lip with a softer, minimal eye colour.

The Bag – minimal is best when it comes to choosing a bag appropriate for a formal event. Do not bring your everyday handbag or your work bag. Not ok. Go for something small and sleak as you only need your phone, coin purse and a lippy and you are all set.

Jewellery – ladies, your jewellery should compliment the rest of the outfit and if you have silver shoes and bag, opt for silver / white gold jewellery and vice versa. And you don’t need to spend a fortune. There are some amazing costume jewellery options that look expensive but aren’t.

Here are some great looks to get your formal outfit kicked off.

formalwear look  evening wear formal dress
formal dress gold Evening dress Formal wear

Items shown above – Formal dresses from White Runway and Royal Tag, Accessories from Bellucci Collection, InHerShoes, pinkcandy, First Sin, shoes and bags from Susie Sawaya Shoes, Novo Shoes, ShoeSales.com.au and Betts. You can find all of these amazing designs via our Style Directory.


Ever received an invitation and had no idea what the dress code meant or what the etiquette was? Wonder no more with this useful advice on how to deciper a dress code.

White Tie
The most formal of them all. The White Tie dress code means you are required to look and wear your absolute best. Think suitable attire for dining with the Queen! Tailcoats, bow ties and floor-length gowns are the go and nothing above the knee!

Black tie
A formal dress code where gents should be wearing a tuxedo or dinner suit, and ladies should be wearing floor length gowns. Think what you would wear if you were attending a red carpet event. Black Tie is most commonly used for formal occasions and weddings although these days a lot of women do bypass the code and opt for suitable knee-length dresses.

Gents should be in suits and the ladies should generally be in a long pretty dress. The Formal dress code is not as glamorous as the Black Tie code so as long as it’s sophisticated and knee-length or below, it will work. Heels are a must!

Semi- Formal
The semi-formal dress code means gents can be suited up without a tie and the ladies can go in sophisticated cocktail dresses. The semi formal dress code is very similar to a ‘cocktail’ dress code.

Lounge Wear
Lounge wear is a mix between Formal and Black Tie. It’s the dress code used for a party or social function where you are not required to wear a black evening suit (aka “a penguin suit” for the men and where you are asked not to turn up in jeans and an open shirt.

Smart Casual
This basically means “please look good”. The smart casual dress code means shoes for gents (no trainers or sneakers please) but jeans are allowed. For the ladies, smart casual could be a pretty frock or jeans/trousers with a blazer and heels.

Good luck with finding your evening dress. Check back to this page for some outfit suggestions coming soon and in the meantime, if you’re looking for a formal dress don’t forget to check out some great evening wear suppliers in our Style Directory, in particular White Runway has an amazing selection of dresses suitable for all formal occasions.

Image at the top of the page created by Katelyn Hague, wording with the help of Rebecca Lau and Sally Dunn. Shown in the image, dress from White Runway, Shoes from ShoeSales.com.au, Jewels from pinkcandy, makeup from Gorgeous Cosmetics and Ry.com.au, Evening Bag from ZU. All can be found in our Style Directory under Evening / Formal wear.