Evening gowns in long or short lengths are suitable for women attending black-tie events. The turquoise chiffon dress by Tomy Bowles, worn by Pam Daniel, is complemented by accessories that enhance the beauty and elegance of the gown. Accessories should never upstage the dress, according to fashion experts.

F. Brian Ferguson
Register-Herald Photographer

When the invitation reads, “white tie,” you correctly presume the occasion is formal and calls for a cut above your Sunday best.

White tie is more formal than black tie, but both occasions call for tuxedos for men.

“If you own a tux, you need to make sure it’s still in style, fits properly and that you have all the accessories you will need. If not, you will want to consider buying or renting one,” said Tom Harvey of Harvey’s Fashions and Bridals in Beckley.

“Black-tie optional” means a dark suit in preferably blue or black is acceptable, but a formal tie is required.

With a “white-tie” affair, men and women need to pull out all the stops, Harvey said.

“White tie is extremely formal. For a man, it means the whole monkey suit, including a formal shirt, vest, white tie, cumberbund, cuff links and the shiny black shoes.”

If the formal dinner is part of a wedding, members of the wedding party should wear what the bride and groom have requested.

With a black-tie event, women can choose a long or short formal gown or an elegantly formal trouser ensemble. However, according to fashionistas with EveningWear.com, only a long formal gown is suitable for a white-tie event.

“With white tie, you’re talking over the top when it comes to details and ultra formal attire and accessories,” Harvey said. “Elegance to the max. However, be careful to make sure jewelry, shoes and other accessories are tastefully chosen. Too much glitz can change your appearance from glamorous to gaudy.”

Accessories should never upstage the dress, he said. “Think of accessories as accents. They add to what you are wearing. Look in a full-length mirror once you have the accessories on. If the accessories are what you see first, you probably want to make some different choices, so your gown gets the major focus,” Harvey said.

A dress that falls at the knee or above is considered a “cocktail” dress and is appropriate for many semi-formal occasions.

This is a great time to reach for the “little black dress,” Harvey said.

“It’s a color that helps to hide most figure flaws, and it can be accessorized for different degrees for formality. A black dress is always a tasteful choice.”

However, the market offers a variety of stunning color combinations and styles. When it comes to choosing semi-formal attire, a perfect fit is essential.

“You need to choose something that flatters your figure type and colors that suit your eye color and skin tones. You will only look your best when you’ve chosen a style and fit that flatters you,” he said.

— E-mail: bdavis@register-herald.com


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