Attire Guide

6 Feb

by Lauren

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a couple of the inaugural festivities in D.C. The events were impeccably done – so fun, so festive, and so energetic.  However, the occasion presented a dressing challenge – not only was it 25 degrees outside, some of the events involved waiting in long lines in black tie or black tie optional attire.  This required some homework on my part – what does White Tie, Black Tie, Black Tie Optional, and Cocktail Attire REALLY mean.

Not one to be dressed inappropriately, I turned to Emily Post for the final verdict on the duds I needed to drum up for these parties.

White Tie:  No ifs ands or buts, this requires a floor length evening gown.  Since I was not at the Royal Wedding I have no experience in dressing for a White Tie party.

Black Tie: Probably the most misunderstood of the attire codes – this does *NOT* require a formal floor length gown.  A dressy cocktail dress is plenty sufficient as is your dressiest little black dress.  If you are opting for the latter two – my advice would be to make it “special.”  The attire for the actual inaugural ball was Black Tie, and since I do not have a formal evening gown and could not find one that I loved, I re-wore my ultra super special New Years Eve dress.  You can also make the look special by accenting your outfit with unique accessories – I think sparkly cocktail rings, baubles and vintage pieces are the best options.  Also: your bag should not be leather – it should be satin, sequin, velvet or something of the like.


On NYE I paired this baby with black patent pumps.

I love this dress and its special bows laced through the tulle, and of course its drop ruffle waist.  While it is not floor length, it more than passes muster for a black tie affair.

IMG_2346Here is an awkward photo of me on the escalator leaving the ball.
I am wearing a pair of velvet heels that are accented with little silver crystals.

Black Tie Optional: For BTO, you can opt for the formal floor length gown.  Typically, I like to steer clear of the formal floor length gown, because if everyone there steers clear, you stick out for being relatively over dressed.  (If you are certain that guests will be in floor length, then obviously go for it).  For BTO, rock a dressy cocktail dress or an LBD.  Emily Post says you can wear dressy separates – but make sure that if you’re under 40, your dressy separates  are on trend.  For the BTO ball I attended, I wore a sequin Rebecca Taylor shift and had my hair done in a voluminous high bun to make the look young, playful, and modern.  I also wore a trendy pair of sandals to punch up the more conservative nature of the dress.



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