The way that you dress for a gala dinner says a lot about who you are as a person and how you are received and perceived by colleagues, affiliates, and peers. As the majority of gala dinners are fairly formal events, it is a chance to put your best foot forward and present yourself as a person of prominence and importance.
The good news is that there are few surprises in store, as regards what is traditionally expected; particularly when it comes to male guests. If the dress code is black tie, for example, it usually means a three piece suit, formal shoes, and a tie or a cravat of some kind. For ladies, the code is a lot more flexible. Though, it generally means a dress or formal pant suit.
These handy hints and tips will give you some direction and ideas on what to wear for future gala dinners.
Dressing to Impress
For guys, the degree of formality can vary. For instance, a cummerbund is considered to be extremely formal, so it might be considered rather stiff and over the top for some events. A dinner or suit jack is required, however, and trousers should be in a matching dark colour.
As for the ladies, the length of a dress generally represents the exclusivity and elegance of an event. So, for partially formal gala dinners, cocktail dresses and more modern styles are appropriate. For highly formal events, floor length dresses and pant suits are the norm. Black is always a popular shade, but it is uncommon for there to be strict rules on colour for women.
Once again, for male guests, the options tend to be fairly limited; usually, black or dark grey shoes are expected. Trainers, boots, and non-formal styles should be avoided. The Oxford shoe is a great choice, because it is thought of as being high class, sophisticated, and associated with richness and wealth.
If you are female, your choice of footwear for gala dinners is much broader. You can pick from almost any kind of shoe, as long as you avoid trainers, sneakers, and non-formal boots. High heels are, of course, the most obvious option, but older women and those who prefer to wear flats can opt for stylish pumps, wedges, and slip on varieties.
The one thing that female guest should have is an attractive handbag or purse. The aim should be to find one that perfectly matches the outfit. It helps if it is compact or able to be carried ‘hands free,’ because many gala dinners involve dancing and other forms of entertainment. Then again, a lot of these events do run secure cloakrooms, so this may not be an issue.
For guys, the only required accessories are a tie (or a cravat) and attractive cufflinks. These two elements are really important, because they show that you care about how you present yourself to the world. No matter your reason for being at the dinner, you should aim to convey a sense of authority, presence, and style.