By: Revanche

Dress Code: The Black Tie Affair

May 25, 2009


This summer’s wardrobe allowance: one summer appropriate, semi-formal dress, one pair comfortable-for-walking flats, and one pair walking/running shoes.

I missed the New Balance sale on, but something else will come around soon enough.’s shipping two pairs of flats, ETA: Monday. I love free shipping and returns; if I never have to go shoe shopping in a brick and mortar store again, I shall pen an ode to Endless.

The dress allotment, however, is totally covered. Was totally covered. After days of scouring the ‘nets, I found five promising designs on Etsy. Only two of the designers I convo’ed responded promptly, and of those two, one offered a more flexible design. The price was higher than I wanted, but not ridiculous considering the off-the-rack sales prices out there. Together, we drafted adjustments so that it will flatter my body, not just my type, and should fit 100%. Special trips to the fabric store were made, colors were considered, delectable details like “A-line,” “boatneck,” “silk georgette,” “timeless, classic shape” were bandied about.

The cost of buying custom, saving the price of a seamstress post-delivery, might actually beat the cost of finding a great designer dress on sale and having it tailored. It’s certainly saving time and effort trying to find that great designer dress now that the order’s been made, and sewing has commenced.

Sadly, oh-so-sadly, the anticipation for this lovely semi-formal frock has been derailed by the horrifying discovery that the event for which this garment was commissioned is Black Tie. Ugh!

I like being gussied up once in a while as much as the next girl, but with less than a month to go, oughtn’t the intrepid organizer have sent the invitations stating that sartorial splendor was expected? True, it was as much my fault as hers that I simply assumed semi-formal was the order of the day, but still. I’d venture that no one is going to be surprised and thrilled by the late revelation that tuxes and tails will be required.

Now that my new dress has been rendered redundant, but the money’s already spent, it’s back to the drawing board. Rather to the internet! What does black tie mean?

For men, indeed, tuxes or dinner jackets are expected. For women, “remember that black-tie means very formal.

Some style recommendations:

Look for full-length skirts and dresses; lengths that hover around the knee are usually considered semiformal.

Consider the material and texture. Silk, satin, embroidery, beads, rhinestones, velvet and metallics are all well-suited for formal attire.

Remember that your dress options are unlimited. Consider spaghetti straps or a jewel-neck collar; a plunging back or a revealing front neckline; and side or back slits. Some events may call for more conservative attire, so consider this when making your selection.

Thus armed with information, I’ve dug back into the closet to pull out old bridesmaid dresses because I’m not spending any more money. I’ve narrowed it down to two: the already tailored, navy blue bridesmaid dress and the still-uncut, never been worn, silky peach dress. Seems like the latter would be more appropriate for a summer evening, but it would require yet another trip to the seamstress. Eh. What thinks ye?

6 Responses to “Dress Code: The Black Tie Affair”

  1. Single Ma says:

    Both are beautiful. Formal and evening usually means darker colors, so I’d opt for #1. But whatever you decide, please don’t wear “stockings” (joke from Twitter) – especially if you plan to wear open toe shoes. LOL

  2. mOOm says:

    Well I got to age 44 without ever wearing a “tux” and don’t plan on doing so 🙂

  3. L.A. Daze says:

    Dress #1 screams black tie! So go for that one.

    Wear it with your hair up, a gorgeous necklace, and a beautiful clutch.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’d go for the dark blue

  5. Revanche says:

    Single Ma: Open toe yes, stockings no. Thanks for the tip and vote! ;P

    mOOm: I have to admit to some jealousy that men get to wear a standard “uniform” and usually always look dapper.

    LA Daze: Ohhh HAIR. Guh. I need someone else to fix *gesturing* this mess. That’s why I loved short hair, I only had to brush it. Now? Mid-length = always in a ponytail.

    Karen: Thanks!

  6. Don’t know if you’re still taking votes, but my vote is for the navy!

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