Formal dresses 101: Everything you need to know

Formal dresses 101: Everything you need to know

Formal dresses are chic, and sophisticated, ideal for all your scheduled work meetings. From blazer dresses to skirt suits, they come in various styles today. A formal dress needs to be functional and comfortable to ensure your 9 to 5 is stylish and productive. The contemporary designs make them perfect for working women. Looking for an all-in-one guide for formal dresses? Here’s everything you need to know.

formal dresses

The perfect office formals for women

Women's workwear has seen some dynamic changes in the past few years. The transition from simple skirts and dresses to power suits has made quite an impact on the way women dress for work.

If you're looking to diversify your work wardrobe, many exciting outfits can be added to your closet. Start with a blazer dress or a well-fitted midi dress, and try out long formal dresses as you get more comfortable. 

The formal dress code for women typically calls for elegant and sophisticated attires. When dressing for a formal event, it is essential to consider the occasion, the time of day, and the location. With the help of the table below, you can easily pick the right dress for the right occasion. It is the perfect guide for deciding the ideal formal dress for you.

Formal dress type


Fabric Material

Cocktail dress

Nighttime party

Lace, chiffon


Formal work or social event

Silk, satin, velvet

Ball gown

Gala, debutante ball

Georgette, crepe

Midi dress

Upbeat events

Cotton, silk, linen

Jacket dress

Formal work events

Polyester blend

formal dresses

Semi-formals: How to pick them

Semi-formals refer to a more casual version of formal dresses. It offers more room to experiment and is a great way to express your style at work. Semi-formal dresses come in prints and patterns, making them ideal for casual Fridays at your workplace. They can also be worn to business meetings outside the office as it is less formal than a clean-cut suit.

If you plan to pick up a semi-formal dress for your next event, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Jumpsuits, cocktail dresses, maxi dresses and pantsuits are all great picks when purchasing semi-formal wear.
  • Floor-length dresses might appear too formal if they don't have prints or patterns.
  • Wearing jewelry is alright, but do not go overboard. Wear a statement piece or two.
  • Consider footwear when deciding on what dress to buy.

formal dresses

Getting the formal dress code right

Formal dresses are no longer restricted to clean-cut suits or business silhouettes. Many versatile styles are available in the category, and women often experiment with formal wear. Be it a dress or a suit; alterations can be done to accentuate any formal wear.

"Choose a formal dress that fits the occasion and is comfortable."

Cocktail dresses, black tie dresses and white tie gowns are a few of the essential types of formal wear one should have other than the typical suit. While these events might not happen often, having them in your arsenal is great.

The dresses can be used interchangeably, making them worth their price tag. A few classic pieces go a long way.

Here are a few tips for navigating the formal dress code for women:

  • Long gowns are the most formal option for women and are typically reserved for black-tie or formal evening events. Look for dresses made of luxurious fabrics like silk, satin, or velvet, and consider adding elegant details like beading or sequins.
  • Cocktail dresses, shorter than full-length gowns and hit above the knee, are popular for semi-formal events. Choose a dress made of a dressier fabric, like lace or chiffon, and consider adding a belt or other embellishments to elevate the look.
  • A tea-length or midi-length dress is appropriate for formal daytime events like weddings. Formal daytime dresses are usually made of lightweight fabrics, like linen or cotton. Consider adding a hat or other headpiece for a finishing touch.

It's also important to consider the event's location when choosing a formal dress. For example, a formal event at a beach resort may call for a lighter, more casual dress. While a formal event at a formal venue, like a ballroom or country club, may require a more formal, elegant gown.  

Rules for wearing formal dresses     

Formal wear comes with a different set of rules for every setting. Some standard rules are that the dress code has to be strictly adhered to, and the tailoring has to be sharp. A clean fit ensures that the outfit does not appear scruffy. Chic le Frique's designs are well-tailored to suit its sophisticated audience.

  • With white tie events, women are expected to wear floor-length gowns and elbow-length gloves.
  • Black tie events require women to attend in floor-length gowns and dressy accessories.
  • Formal events require cocktail dresses with a color palette suggested by the event's requirements.
  • Semi-formal and casual events are relaxed, and dresses are optional. A dressy blouse and pants/skirts are usually worn.

formal dresses

Make a statement with short formal dresses

Trying our new dress styles and designs is a great way to liven up your everyday. Short formal dresses pack a punch; they're fun, comfortable and flirty. Every detail makes a difference, from sequins and zippers to patterns and exaggerated sleeves. Short dresses usually work with a lot of versatility. One can wear them at the office and to dinner. The dress can easily transition from day to night.

Short formal dresses are easy to work with as they can be dressed up or styled subtly. It depends on what your style is and what occasion it is. Accessorize with jewelry, heels or funky sneakers; the dresses can do it all.