Please help me by clarifying this. I have a National organization event that will be a recognition ceremony at which I am receiving an award. The invitation states FORMAL but the event is at 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening. Were it at 6:00, I would be more likely to wear a long formal, but 5:30??
What do you think is appropriate?
–Dr. Dawn DuPree Kelley, Birmingham, AL
Congratulations on your award. I agree with you about the problem with the Formal 5:30 p.m. dress code. In many instances these days, Formal means Suits & Dresses; where a knee-length dressy cocktail dress is de rigueur. Traditionally, the dress code for a Sunday night event does not require Formal attire — meaning an evening gown.
Personally, I also think a long dress can look dowdy in the early evening. We don’t want you looking over-dressed. You want to be perceived as elegant and dignified, but with a noticeable spring in your step.
Chic but not too sleek, slick, sparkly, or glitzy. Your outfit would be more about the quality of design and workmanship rather than how many sequins are twinkling on your dress.
Here is a look that would look well on a stage or up at a podium. A plus is that you wouldn’t have to worry about navigating a lot of fabric.
You would look and feel crisp, fresh and totally elegant in a knee-length, or just below the knee, dress with a bit of sleeve, if you’re self-conscious of your arms. Sleeves can give a professional air, the way a man would wear a jacket.
You can accessories with a lovely small evening bag and beautiful shoes, but take it easy on the jewelry for an early evening event.
I am not a stylist or by any means a fashionista. Normally, for women over forty I recommend fashion advice websites such as: Halsbrook.com, Maria Pucci at gramercy-atelier.com, RentTheRunway.com, and Hilary Dick at What2WearWhere.com.
However, your sweet question fits in. My point here is that you are not going to a senior prom or a charity ball. How you interpret the dress code symbolizes your distinction in your field of expertise. Once again, congratulations!
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Accepting A Compliment