Thursday, May 20, 2010


This resumes the series of blogs on Fancy Dress Occasions.

Perhaps the most confusing invitation reads "Black Tie Optional."  What does this really mean?

This generally means going beyond work attire into evening wear.  Ladies may stick to dresses but  fabrics go beyond the wools, cottons and gabardines for day wear.  A beautiful cocktail dress is expected, a long gown even better.  If it is seriously only "Black Tie", you know you are in gown territory.

Fancy dress balls might necessitate the pouffy ball gown for the sake of tradition.  For other occasions, you can opt for more sophisticated chiffons or satin bias cut gowns that evoke elegance and glamor.

Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2010
Marchesa gown
Elie Saab (left) presented many sophisticated gowns for the Spring/Summer 2010 collection in Paris.  Marchesa (below) makes beautifully intricate gowns.

Affordable labels also produce gowns catering to Prom and wedding events.  For example, J. Crew and Ann Taylor have wedding lines.

One designer duo that consistently fashions gorgeous evening wear is Badgley Mischka.  Their creations are often on the red carpet.

floral beadwork
I wore this to a "Black Tie" wedding reception at the beach in the Hamptons a few years ago.  It has several layers of silk and chiffon which brought "Sea Nymph" to mind, particularly with a shimmery organza wrap.  The floral beading in the front and back are the only ornamentation to this otherwise simple gown -- great if you have a back and arms worth displaying!

To choose a stunning gown for you:

Floral accents in back
  • Think of your best asset, and find a gown that highlights it.
  • Where is the event?  The beach locale inspired my "Sea Nymph" look.
  • If it's a wedding, you may want to avoid the color of the Bridal Party.
  • Have it tailored to fit.  You lose the elegance if you keep adjusting your gown.

Have a glass of champagne and enjoy your Black Tie event!

*Badgley Mischka gown photos courtesy of Lily Dong.

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