Your date can only choose a tux, but your black-tie options are limitless. Whether you choose satin or beads, a dress or a long skirt and top, remember that black-tie means very formal.
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Select a style and cut that flatters your figure, highlighting your assets and minimizing any problem areas.
Look for full-length skirts and dresses; lengths that hover around the knee are usually considered semiformal.
Consider the material and texture. Silk, satin, embroidery, beads, rhinestones, velvet and metallics are all well-suited for formal attire.
Evaluate your options if you decide to wear a two-piece ensemble. Pair a beaded stretch top with a full-length, slim velvet skirt, or a silk organza blouse with a full satin skirt that hits at your ankles.
Remember that your dress options are unlimited. Consider spaghetti straps or a jewel-neck collar; a plunging back or a revealing front neckline; and side or back slits. Some events may call for more conservative attire, so consider this when making your selection.
Choose colors that complement your complexion. Black isn't the only evening color. Deep reds and plums, crisp pastels, and silver and gold can all look equally stunning.
Treat yourself to a manicure, and opt for a pedicure if you'll be wearing open-toed shoes.
Match your lip and nail color. Do more pronounced lips or dramatic eyes, but avoid the two together or you may appear overly made up.
Choose a hairstyle that's different from your everyday one. Curl it, gel it in place, or sweep it into a romantic updo or slick ponytail.
Select earrings that complement the tones and trims in your outfit. Pearls look great with beaded ensembles; diamonds or zirconia accentuate rhinestone-studded and metallic outfits.
Dangle a bracelet or two from your wrist when baring your arms. A charm bracelet will complement a short-sleeved bodice; a wide gold or rhinestone band will work well with a strapless number.
Complement a lightweight silk or satin outfit with strappy sandals or slipper mules. Velvet or colored satin pumps will work nicely with heavier materials.
Select a minibag or small clutch in the same material, color family and trim as your outfit. Black-tie events are no place for roomy purses. All you really need is your compact, lipstick, keys, I.D. and some cash.
Tips and warnings
- Invite a trusted companion to see you in the outfit you're considering before you make the purchase.
- Consult with your date to ensure that his tie and cummerbund match the color of your ensemble. Black complements everything.
- Wear underwear that will remain discreet. Check to make sure that bra edges and straps will remain concealed throughout an evening of sitting, standing and dancing.