How to Wear Evening Dresses: A Guide to Your Next Formal Affair

So you’ve got the invitation to your formal affair and after the initial excitement of being able to attend such an event, the worry sets in about your outfit. What are you going to wear? It can be confusing with all of the different types of formal attire dress codes which are used, and it’s important to understand what dress is appropriate for that event. There is nothing worse than showing up in a dress that is too casual or too inappropriate – so here is the lowdown on what to wear for your next formal event.

The first thing to understand is the different dress codes for formal affairs:

Black Tie

The most well-known evening dress code, this calls for floor-length gowns for the most part. You can easily get away with wearing a cocktail dress if it’s on the longer side, however, anything short should be avoided.

Black Tie Optional

This dress code gives you much more freedom – which is either a good thing or a bad one depending on how you see it. Most people opt for a floor-length gown like Flannel’s Essential Long Slip Dress, however, you’re favourite little black dress would also be acceptable.

Creative Black Tie

This dress code allows the wearer to express their own style through their evening wear. Think bolder colours and patterns on your evening dresses while keeping with the traditional black-tie lengths. Flannel has a great range of alternative evening dresses and skirts which will impress your friends at your next creative black-tie event.


A fairly obvious and straightforward dress code to understand, short but sophisticated dresses are the way to go.

White Tie

The most sophisticated of all evening dress codes, ball gowns and fancy floor-length dresses the attire of choice. The Met-Gala and royal dinner galas, so nothing short is every accepted. Think princess-like ball gowns and epic evening dresses.


For formal events, you can’t just throw on your standard trench coats and be done with it. Part of going to a formal event is that you look polished from head to toe. A jacket that stops mid-thigh may make you look shorter, so opt for a full-length coat, a shawl or bolero to keep you warm while complimenting the length of your dress.


Most formal events will require you to wear high heels, however, you may be able to get away with wearing flats. There will be plenty of dancing, standing and waiting at your evening event so make sure you take this into consideration while choosing your shoe choice. If you plan on wearing stilettoes then opt for a heel that has a platform as well, otherwise, a kitten heel should be formal enough for most events.

Pick a Dress For Your Body Shape 

Though there isn’t hard or fast rule for choosing what kind of dress you should wear, there are certain dreses which flatter certain body shapes more than others. Those with a larger bust should steer clear of backless dresses as they won’t provide much support. Girls with larger shoulders should avoid halter necks which emphasises your wider shoulders. Ladies with pear-shaped bodies should wear dresses that draw attention to your upper half and away from your fuller bottom half. But as always, pick whichever dress you think flatters you.

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