How to Simplify Your Special Occasion Dressing
Featuring Formalwear Favorites From FarFetch
Some of my most significant wardrobe challenges have been around dressing for special events. Until recently, my process for tackling these situations has been utterly inefficient: waiting until the last minute to think about it, then either giving up and going underdressed or panicking and splurging on a subpar outfit.
Going through the process of developing my capsule wardrobe has forced me to address these events beforehand so I won't make poor decisions on a whim. Here’s a streamlined process I’ve created that is relevant for both male and female event goers.
ASSESS THE NATURE OF YOUR EVENTS
Plan for the most common and frequently occurring occasions instead of the rare and random events, and select suitable styles accordingly.
I hardly ever attend formal professional events and don't see that changing in the near future (because I actively avoid them). In my personal life only weddings tend to call for a shift in my daily uniform.
So the formal pieces that I'm in the process of adding to my wardrobe are mostly for weddings. However, knowing that a milestone birthday celebration, graduation, or work event (for my partner) is possible, I'm making sure that what I purchase works for a variety of themes.
STICK WITH YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
My style is casual chic and I get frustrated when I attempt to go against that aesthetic. Anything too fancy and fussy leads to me fidgeting instead of focusing on the celebration.
There's no reason for you to do a complete 180 when dressing for formal affairs. Doing so will only make you self-conscious when you should be enjoying the moment. Be mindful of your personal aesthetic and choose looks that work within that framework.
FIND THE RIGHT SILHOUETTES
That said, even with a recognition of your personal style you also need to be aware of the cuts and fits that make you feel most confident. Since formalwear tends to be more elaborate (and formal events often last for hours) you need to test out different outfits to get a sense of what fits your body type and what you can be comfortable in for an extended period of time.
For instance, with a small frame I can get away with form fitting outfits but don't look good in too many frills and other adornments that drown out my limited "assets" instead of accentuating them. From a male's perspective, my partner is tall and thin so he insists on either tailor-made suits and shirts or slim fit options, preferably from Italian brands.
CHOOSE CLASSICS FOR LONGEVITY
It can be tempting to use special events as a way of standing out and expressing yourself more vigorously than you typically have an opportunity to do. That's understandable, but you should be aware of the the main issues with this:
First, the more fashionable and trendy the outfit, the least likely it can work as a longstanding staple in your wardrobe. Second, the more you draw attention to yourself the less comfortable you'll feel re-wearing that outfit at another event (for fear of judgment). If you show up in that fire engine red number, you'll draw the looks and maybe the compliments but will probably exhaust the possibility of its reuse.
Going classic allows you to look great in a more sustainable way. This is especially useful if you often find yourself at events with the same network but can't fathom the thought of having to purchase something new every single time you get an invitation.
MAKE A STATEMENT SUBTLY
Now, being classy doesn't automatically mean being boring. You can express your unique sense of style in more subtle ways.
Men may be pretty much be forced to wear suits at formal events, but can play around with color and texture. Also experimenting with shirt detailing and necktie prints, or evening being playful with sock patterns, is another way to stand out tastefully.
Women, of course, have much more flexibility with the myriad of options available. I'm a modest dresser but to add more umph to my formal selections I'm looking at understated embellishments such as overdramatized splits, side and back cut outs, or simple stripes and minor decorative details that spruce up neutral colors and sophisticated fabrics.
One-off occasions don't have to result in a significant investment in pieces that you will rarely use. With a bit of pre-planning you can integrate the perfect items into your existing wardrobe and find ways to repurpose them for broader use.
Our men and women formalwear selections were curated from one of our luxury retail partners FarFetch and can be accessed directly by clicking the image.