This reaction isn’t an uncommon lament, as our rules for what to wear to upscale occasions can be murky. According to Real Simple magazine, you should consider several factors when planning your outfit:
“What you wear to any of these occasions depends on so many factors: the venue, the formality of the invite, the weather, and often what everyone else plans to wear.”
You’ll also undoubtedly want to invest in a garment with repeat usage potential. Formal events don’t come around all the time! What's more, if you buy something too trendy or poorly made, your clothes won't meet the in-fashion criteria the next time a formal event invite appears in your mailbox.
The keys, then, to building a formal wardrobe are these:
These five wardrobe essentials will let help you be the talk of your formal event - all while providing you re-wear value for future occasions.
The ubiquitous little black dress (LBD) is a classic because it will never go out of style. An appropriately-formal LBD should consist of:
What’s great about a black dress is you can dress it up or down with heels or flats, along with accessories like scarves and jewelry. If you’re invited to a professional event, too, you can throw a jacket, also.
Move over, boys. A jacket or blazer elevates any outfit’s sophistication, and for less upscale formal events, like graduations or even casual Fridays. You can even wear this item with jeans for future non-formal occasions!
Depending on if you want to look professional, fun, or sophisticated, a jacket or blazer pairs well over a sleek button-down, a colorful silk top, or even an expensive t-shirt.
Creating an essential wardrobe MUST include separates - the key to versatility. Depending on your preference, a classic skirt or pair of slacks in navy, black, or grey provides you a blank canvas to create your outfits.
If you’re gathering for a festive holiday party, you could pair a grey skirt with a glittering top. Or, if you’re attending church, you could pair your navy slacks with a conservative blouse. Try and stick to primary colors or muted shades when selecting tones, though.
If your formal event calls for “dressy-casual” attire, you can’t go wrong with an elevated cashmere or wool sweater. If your staples have been mostly neutral colors, you may opt for a brighter sweater that could liven up your wardrobe, though a white or navy sweater pairs seamlessly with many different underlayers and pants.
You may choose a buttoned cardigan over a pullover sweater if you plan to transition your outfit from day to evening.
Most “essential” wardrobe staple lists include a crisp white button-down blouse because of its versatility. You can wear a white button-down for the most formal occasions under a blazer.
That same piece can look fabulous at everyday outings with jeans and sneakers. But if your style is less, well, buttoned-up, then you could opt for a fitted blouse in your favorite neutral color.
Once you’ve created a basic wardrobe of five essential pieces, you can buy seasonally-appropriate accessories, like shoes and scarves, to keep your look fresh.
You can also dress your outfit down by adding white sneakers, an ankle boot, or white tees, so you can wear these pieces for less-formal days out or even to work.
Since you can get so much use out of these pieces, we’d recommend buying higher-quality clothing that can last for years. If you do invest in these upscale pieces, however, you’ll also need to pay more attention to caring for your high-end wardrobe staples.
Butler Luxury’s line of women’s clothing hangers comes designed to ensure your pieces will last. Our high-quality Beech or Rosewood hangers keep your clothing's shape and prevent snagging, tearing, and bunching from season to season.
Browse our selection today and keep your wardrobe essentials in top form for all future formal events!
Ready to buy a new suit? This guide offers an overview of common suit fabrics, reasons to choose that fabric, and care recommendations for each material.