Snow, sleet and ice shouldn’t stop you from looking winter fabulous at a semiformal event. The weather might be brisk, but your outfit doesn’t have to be. Pull those dressy, cold-weather pieces out of your closet, and show the ice princes and ice princesses of the world who’s boss in the winter fashion wonderland.
When it comes to semiformal event attire, choose from basic wardrobe staples that set the right tone for a party look. These clothes are not exclusive to one season, but can be used to create season-specific looks when accompanied by accessories and other pieces. For winter, women can add tights to their outfits, and elegant outerwear when it’s very cold.
For women, these semiformal event basics are:
* Little black dress
* Cocktail dress
* Dressy jumpsuit
Cocktail dresses for semiformal events don’t have to be any certain color, although popular winter hues are black, red and gold. Black is always a good color choice because it makes accessorizing with contrasting colors easier, and is also an appropriate color for evening events. Daytime colors can be lighter, like shades of pink, purple or winter white. Stick to solid colored dresses, or very subtle textural embellishments. You can add texture with winter accessories and outerwear.
Dressy jumpsuits are great for semiformal winter events because they leave less skin exposed while still looking elegant. For daytime, go with a lighter neutral like ivory, and for evening, black is your best bet. Wear some tights or stockings under the jumpsuit for additional warmth, if necessary.
For men, a suit and tie in a dark color such as charcoal, navy or black makes up your basic semiformal wear. For evening events, wear a darker shade of shirt such as burgundy or silver. For daytime events, go with plain white or a pale color like light blue. These are appropriate colors for any semiformal event, but are also winter-specific shades. Top off your basics with winter outerwear.
Semiformal Shoes and Accessories — Women
To complete your semiformal winter event look, you need the right shoes and accessories. For women:
A little black dress, a cocktail dress and a jumpsuit all work best with heels. Regardless of the style and color ensemble you choose, your shoes should be a neutral color. Heel height is not important, although higher heels generally work better for semiformal events, especially in the evening. If you wear heels, avoid open toe or peep toe styles. Open toed shoes don’t look good with tights or stockings. Plus, you want your toes covered when it’s cold outside.
You can go for a different look and pair your dress or jumpsuit with boots, often a better choice for cold weather. To keep the boots looking semiformal, make sure the heel is not too thick. Stiletto heels and other thin heels are dressier than thicker heels. Cowboy boots are not appropriate, and the best style is calf or knee height. As with heels, keep your boots in the neutral color family.
These add warmth to your winter ensemble. Choose black to wear under a little black dress or black jumpsuit, or a shimmery white or silver with a cocktail dress or lighter colored jumpsuit. Keep them sheer, not opaque, so they don’t steal the focus away from your outfit.
Your semiformal dress shouldn’t be too flashy, so you can add dazzle to your look with jewelry and a clutch. The only pieces of jewelry you need are earrings, a necklace and possibly a bracelet. Diamonds are fine for a semiformal occasion, but should be worn in moderation and are best suited for evening events. Another choice is pearls — both classy and elegant. Pearls work for daytime and evening events.
An evening clutch should have shimmer or sparkle in the fabric, in an evening color like black or silver. For daytime events, a shimmer or sparkle is fine, but stay away from darker colors. An iridescent ivory complements pearls, if you wear them.
Semiformal Shoes and Accessories — Men
For semiformal events, men can keep the accessories to a minimum. A suit and tie is more than sufficient to create a complete, sophisticated look. When it comes to shoes and accessories, you need:
For daytime or evening events, shoes should be a dressy oxford style in dark brown or black. They should match your suit and socks. Wool socks will keep your feet warm.
A watch is both practical and stylish. A pocket handkerchief in your suit pocket is an easy way to add some color to your outfit. Cuff links also work. Most of the time, those are the only accessories you need.
Semiformal Event Outerwear
Even when it’s not too cold, outerwear can enhance the look of your outfit. Winter events are no exception, and when it’s very cold, outwear is a must.
* Fur. Shawls and coats made from fur or faux fur add luxury and warmth to a semiformal outfit. Don’t wear anything too extravagant, though.
* Wool coat. Choose a length at least as long as your dress. Anything in the style of a pea coat or trench coat should work. If your dress is black, your coat doesn’t need to be. In fact, a colorful coat balances out the outfit better. If your dress is not black, you can wear a black coat.
* Scarf. Choose one that isn’t too thick, and that matches your coat. If it has some metallic threading or shimmer, that’s even better. An infinity scarf is the best option, since it looks “cleaner” and doesn’t have ends hanging down over your outfit.
* Hat. Fashionable and fancy, a hat will keep your head warm and your outfit looking even better. Floppy hats, such as a down-brim or boater work best. A Fascinator hat or headband with a veil will dress up your look, but may not keep your head warm.
* Overcoat. The best overcoats for semiformal events are Chesterfield or Covert styles. Your suit is a dark neutral color, so your overcoat should also be a dark neutral. Black works best over any color suit, and gray or navy go with lighter shades of gray or navy.
* Scarf. One of the easiest ways to add warmth is with a scarf. It’s a great option because it also doubles as an accessory. Find one in the same color as your overcoat, in a style that isn’t too casual. An infinity scarf is the best option.
References and ResourcesOutfit Ideas HQ: Formal Party Outfits for Winter
Bows 'N Ties: What is Meant by Semi-Formal Attire
The Art of Manliness: A Man's Guide to Overcoats
Redbook: 8 Ways to Warm Up Your Little Black Dress