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The ONE33 Social Guide to Formal Wear

The ONE33 Social Guide to Formal Wear

In case you didn’t already know, formal wear is kind of our thing. You had questions about styling formal dresses for our founders, and they delivered!  Want the founders to answer your questions next week? Shoot us an email at We’d love to hear from you!
This week’s series is all about how to dress for a black tie event. Looks like you have some fancy friends and nothing to wear. We’re here to help. After reading this guide, you’ll be prepared for any formal soiree. Who knows! Maybe you’ll even end up throwing one. 

What are some good options for women's formal wear?

To answer that, we first have to answer the question: what makes a dress formal? Oftentimes the answer to this question is all about length and tailoring. Most of the time, formal dresses are floor length. We might be biased, but we think our best-selling ONE33 Social gown, “The Mercer” is the perfect formal wedding guest dress. However, sometimes special occasion midi dresses and knee-length dresses also work for formal events. 
Appropriate necklines may vary based on the soiree, but we’d stay away from plunging v neck dresses, as they are often a bit too revealing for black-tie dress codes. Square neckline special occasion dresses, halter neck special occasion dresses, and mock neck special occasion dresses are just a few options of the many options we’d recommend. Get creative with it!

In what occasions can I wear a formal dress?

Believe it or not, there are plenty of occasions that call for formal dresses. Usually the event invitation is your best friend––it will indicate a dress code, which is often black-tie and/or black-tie optional. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re looking for wedding guest dresses, dresses for galas, dresses for red carpet events, and/ or dresses for charity balls. 
Here’s a breakdown of all the formal dress codes you might find on your invitation:
White tie: 
Woah, there. White tie is as fancy as it gets––you’re probably going to a very upscale wedding or luxurious gala. That means it’s time to break out the ball gowns and evening gowns. The bigger the skirt the better, and sequins are always a fun, classy option. Check out some of our ONE33 Social stretch sequin gowns––they’re super comfortable and appropriate for any white tie occasion. Of course, you’ll also need a great pair of heels and some statement jewelry pieces to match. 
Outdoor Formal:
It’s pretty rare that you’d see an outdoor formal occasion, but they do happen. Outdoor formal dresses are typically required for weddings hosted in nature. These events give you greater permission to play––we’d recommend some of our bold ONE33 Social prints. Don’t be afraid of a little color! We have plenty of midi dresses and maxi dresses that fit the bill here. Remember, you’re  allowed to have some fun. 
The flowy-er the better, especially if you’re looking for outdoor wedding guest dresses. For fall wedding guest dresses, don’t forget to bring a jacket to layer up––there’s nothing worse than chattering during the ceremony. If you’re looking for a summer wedding guest dress, you can’t go wrong with some of ONE33 Social’s lightweight, breathable fabrics. 
Black Tie:
Ah, yes. How should a woman dress for a black tie event… a question as old as time. Floor length gowns are recommended––after all, this is your chance to be the belle of the ball! You might as well go all out. We especially love our ONE33 Social a-line gowns––they fit perfectly to curves and are flattering for any silhouette. 
Black Tie Optional:
Black Tie Optional events are typically more relaxed than some of the dress codes we’ve already highlighted. That means ONE33 Social formal cocktail dresses are your best friend. You’ll still want to find an elegant formal dress, you just won’t need to worry about splurging on a ball gown. Colorful formal dresses are also welcome at black tie optional events! Of course, if you still want to go all out and wear something fancier, that’s also more than acceptable. To each her own!
We’ve now covered the four main formal dress attires. If we missed any you need help with, let us know! We’re here to help you look and feel your best. 

How short can my dress be for a Black Tie event?

Black-tie events typically mean long, formal gowns; however, there are more modern approaches that you can take. Dresses with shorter hems can be acceptable for black tie events if you choose an asymmetrical hem––high-low dresses and cross-body dresses like ONE33 Social’s “The Mercer” also work well for black-tie and black-tie optional events. As long as the fabric, styling, and embellishments read as extremely dressy, you should be good to go! 

What should be the formal wear for women in winter?

Take all of our earlier guidance into account, and consider that you might want a more wintery color palette. Deep emerald tones look particularly striking during the Winter months, and we’d stay away from Spring florals entirely. Of course, during the winter-time, it can get pretty cold––just because you’re going to a formal event doesn’t mean you should leave your jacket at home. We love wearing faux fur chubbies, beaded jackets, and boleros with our formal dresses. You can get creative and have fun with it, all while staying warm. 

Is it wrong to wear sneakers with a formal dress?

We don’t want to be too prescriptive, but yes. Sneakers would be inappropriate for a black tie occasion. However, that doesn’t mean that sneakers can’t go with a fun cocktail dress for your less dressy events! ONE33 Social’s “The Tina” can easily be taken from a night to day dress by switching out pumps for kicks. We love the impulse, but we have to veto it for your fanciest functions. 

Can you wear wedges with a formal dress?

Again, wedges wouldn’t be appropriate with a formal dress unless you’re at a summer outdoor wedding. We’d still recommend that these wedges are beaded or heavily embellished to match the elevated tone of the affair. 
Did we answer all your formal dresswear questions? Remember that these are only guidelines––once you know them, it’s your turn to experiment and see what works for you and what doesn’t. This is your wardrobe, and you get to play the stylist. Enjoy the dressing up process and remember to hit our line with any lingering questions: