Are you on the lookout for that single, legendary item of clothing that will fit seamlessly into your wardrobe and work for absolutely any occasion? Look no further, we’ve found it.
It can be difficult enough to figure out what to wear for any given occasion each morning, but when you’re handed an invitation to an event with a hard-to-decipher dress code, everything gets slightly more difficult: but this is where the semi-formal dress steps in. Dress it up for a more formal event and dress it down for casual wear; the semi-formal dress will take you to a wedding or dinner date just as easily as to a soccer game or brunch with friends.
The idea of one dress that can work for practically any occasion might seem like a fanciful concept. We’re so used to dividing our clothes into categories based on our lives – office wear, party outfits, gym clothes, weekend wear, etc. – as well as categories based on the seasons, that we forget about how certain pieces can be great at multitasking. Load up your closet with a few select semi-formal dresses and you’ll be able to create so many different outfits, for so many different occasions, just by switching up your shoes and accessories.
# For Busy Ladies Who Work in Offices
A semi-formal dress is a particularly good option for busy ladies who work in offices. Choose a flattering but fairly conservative dress such as this gorgeous floral Dolce & Gabbana dress, and add a smart blazer and black pumps for a stylish work outfit. The floral pattern adds visual interest, but its dark colour and careful placing keep it looking smart. For after-work drinks or an event, switch out the blazer in favor of an edgy leather jacket and a bold clutch – versatile clothing at its finest.
# Dresses for Bridesmaids
Brides-to-be might also benefit from considering semi-formal dresses for their bridesmaids, especially for outdoors, rustic-themed or homely weddings. They’re often a cheaper alternative to getting each bridesmaid dress hand made or bought from a wedding boutique, and your bridesmaids will surely appreciate being able to wear their dress again at some point in the future. We love the growing trend of having each bridesmaid wear a slightly different style or color of dress – this way they can each find something that suits them and makes them feel great. When choosing semi-formal bridesmaids dresses, keep an eye out for softer, feminine shapes and pretty details for a more elegant look. This H&M dress with flared hem would be a lovely option for a fall or winter wedding: the soft burgundy color is so autumnal and romantic. Modcloth also carry a fantastic selection of wedding-appropriate semi-formal dresses – we could spend hours browsing!
# Semi-Formal Black Dress
There is such a wide range of options for us when it comes to semi-formal dresses, but an ever-popular one is the little black dress. We’re pretty sure every single one of us has a little black dress tucked away somewhere in our closet, but if you haven’t found ‘the one’ yet, make it a priority! The little black dress is praised so often because it truly is one of the most versatile around – it’s so easy to accessorize! For a modern twist on a classic wardrobe staple, we’ve turned to Topshop’s sleek crepe slip dress – perfect for re-living the glory days of the 90s with a backpack and trendy sneakers during the day and vamping up with a pair of strappy heels and a slick of red lipstick at night. We also love Valentino’s black and white wool and silk-blend dress: that subtly sexy slither of tulle at the neckline keeps it from looking prim.
# Smart and Tailored
There are so many different routes you can take when it comes to picking out a semi-formal dress, but you should tailor your choices to your lifestyle. If you spend a lot of time in the office, consider a smart and tailored dress like the ones we listed above – but if you spend more time at home you might prefer something that shows a little more personality. We love the 60s vibe of this Topshop appliqué dress; it looks great worn on its own with simple pumps for a girlie evening outfit, but would look just as good bundled up with thick woolly tights, ankle boots and a snuggly cardigan for a cosy winter outfit.
There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when shopping for your perfect semi-formal dress: length and material. The dress should be kept to knee-length; anything shorter could look inappropriate at a more formal event, but a floor-length dress can be difficult to dress down. Also take into account the fabric of the dress. Materials like wool and crepe are perfect, but denim or jersey will probably be unsuitable for many occasions.