Party Style: Give The Black Dress A Rest


I was chatting with some colleagues yesterday who are going to a networking evening at the end of the week which has a formal dress code. Naturally, the conversation turned to what everyone was going to be wearing and it quickly became apparent that all of them were going to be wearing black.

First, let me caveat this by saying that there were only 4 of them, so it’s not exactly an earth shattering coincidence, but it did get me thinking about how we tend to just automatically think of black when going to a formal occasion or when looking for party dresses.

I did a wee bit of digging to find out firstly what the rules are for ‘black tie’ formal events. There’s some good info in this article, but in summary: –

Drinks Reception

If it’s a drinks only event (between 6 and 8pm) you should go for cocktail attire with the main stipulation being that your dress shouldn’t go any higher than the top of your knee. You should also wear stockings. No stipulations on colour.

Formal Dinner

For formal dinners, the advice is to consider a full length ball gown or dress, but it does say that this is not mandatory. Again, nothing specifically about dress colour.

In fact, the article goes on to say that you should consider colours other than black, that suit your complexion.

So, in fact you pretty much have free reign when it comes to colour choice. So, what should you choose?

Well, the advice above is good and just like when putting together any other outfit you should choose colours that suit you and you feel confident in, but you can also think about what sort of impression you want to make.

For an elegant look a light silver dress looks great, or how about a light pink, such as the Prada gown worn by Anne Hathaway at the Oscars. In fact, on the topic of the Oscars check out Harpers Bazaar’s best dressed pics – only one black dress in their top 10!

If you want to turn heads and be the centre of attention then nothing does it quite like a red dress. I’ve said it before many times, but men can’t resist a lady in red!

Finally, if you’re looking to blend in a little more, then why not go for a navy, or dark purple, which will be subtle, but still gives you a point of difference over the sea of black dresses.

So, the next time you are invited to a formal party, don’t automatically reach for your black dress! Inject a bit of colour into your outfit and you’ll be conforming to etiquette and standing out from the crowd!