Semi-Semi-Formal Event Dressing

We all know what formal wear means. Also called black-tie, formal means the dressiest of dressy, a full-length gown (but not a maxi-dress), and as much glitz and glitter and updo-ness as your personal style dictates.

Then there’s semi-formal. In college, we used to throw semi-formal parties just for the excuse to dress in something other than ratty jeans. We still stood around the same dingy, filthy college apartments drinking the same cheap vodka and cranberry juice, but we looked smashing in our vintage black velvet dresses, rhinestones, and heels. I suppose “cocktail” is today’s equivalent of semi-formal, and it’s still an easily cracked dress code.

But what of the event that’s in-between business and cocktail? Say, a dinner or a party or a film premiere…where you’re not one of the people who will be photographed on the red carpet? What I call semi-semi-formal?  These kinds of events are most likely to make you deploy the dreaded day-to-night transformation, as you’re forced to gussy up whatever you wore earlier in the day to work.

These kinds of events are a little more amorphous, and you will likely see everything from jeans to business suits in attendance. That’s because there’s a ridiculously fine line between over and under done, and it’s easier to err on the side of whatever you happened to be wearing earlier in the day. Let me put together an example of what I think words for semi-semi-formal ™, and we can virtually try this on.

how to dress for a semi formal event

  1. Mikkat Market grey jumbo clutch, Topshop sleeveless drape front top
  2. Zara side-studded trousers, Bandolino Realm pump, Ross Hommerson Antoinette pump

Note: Don’t stand around pigeon-toed like this model. That postural anomaly is strictly for models and under-30 personal style bloggers.  The mint top and the military detailing on the pants are both on-trend but not screaming, “trendy.” The detailing on the pants is doing all of the heavy lifting, so accessories can be kept minimal. The top lets the detailing on the pants show, but doesn’t have to be tucked in (I hate having to tuck). This wouldn’t look ridiculous at the office, and doesn’t look too casual after hours. Done.