A long flowing dress.
Evening Gowns come in various lengths: Tea which is from mid calf to ankle, Ballerina which is to the ankle, and Full Length which is to the floor.
Suitable materials include chiffon, velvet, satin, and silk.
A short gown.
Also known as a 'Dancing Costume' or a 'Cocktail Gown'.
Ranging in length from just above the knee to about two inches above the ankle (Tea length), however the longer length is appropriate to semi-formal wear.
Popular materials include silk, satin and chiffon.
Less elaborate dresses are most appropriate for semi-formal wear.
Hats are not worn for Semi-Formal evening wear
Lace. To complement a Ball Skirt.
Cashmere. To complement a Ball Skirt.
To complement a Ball Skirt.
Full long skirt as an alternative to a gown.
A relatively recent innovation.
To suit your gown or skirt.
To suit your gown or skirt.
The ideal accompaniment to Semi-Formal wear.
If weather permits.
A short cloak which just covers the shoulders or extends to the waist.
Velvet, silk, or satin.
A loose over garment which covers the wearer and their evening dress from shoulders to ankles, normally fastening at the neck. There are no arms.
Wool, cashmere, velvet, satin, silk and fur are all common materials for evening cloaks.
Good quality linings and trimmings.
As much as you feel is appropriate.
Show off your best.
Black Tie Optional?
If the invitation requests 'Black Tie Optional', then this means exactly that.
If you feel more comfortable in black tie or wish to convey your respect to your hosts or fellow guests, wear Black Tie. If you prefer not to dress so formally, a dark Lounge Suit
will be sufficient.
Ladies also get a free choice of evening wear. Anything from Evening Gown
to Cocktail dress
would be more than suitable. Dressy separates could also be considered.
Obviously some guests will be wearing Black Tie, so all clothing should be of the highest quality.
Creative Black Tie?
If the invitation requests 'Creative Black Tie', or some other variation on the 'Black Tie' code, this generally means that, for him, more modern trousers and dinner jacket is acceptable. Maybe a black shirt, a long tie or some other local neckwear.
The key thing is that the suit and dinner jacket should be black and dressy.
For her, there's more creativity with her dress length, or even wear dressy evening separates.
Obviously, follow any themes requested in the dress code, but remember this is still intended to be a classy event.
A White Gown with a tartan sash.
Alternatively a long kilted skirt with a jacket.
The tarten of the lady or her companion can be used for the skirt or sash, or a 'district' tarten approved for general use can be used.
Traditional dress is always appropriate for semi-formal events.
Formal and Semi-Formal
In high society, White Tie
and Ball Gowns was the standard formal form of dress for social gatherings. It shows the wealth of the upper classes and their familiarity of etiquette, and is still expected at the very highest class of event.
However, such elaborate presentation is not very practical for frequent usage, and so the semi-formal dress code Black Tie
, consisting of Dinner Jackets
and Evening Dress
or even the shorter Cocktail Dress
was established, for dining in a sophisticated manner, without the impracticalities and lavishness of full formal dress. Overtime, this has become the more standard form of dress for most formal events.