Fashion For Real Women

Special Occasion Dress Overview

What should be in your special occasion wardrobe?

Before I answer that, let's define exactly what special occasion clothes are. Special occasion attire, unlike casual and business wear, is typically very formal and are made of fine fabrics like silk, velvet, and lace. They're worn on the dressiest occasions of life, like:

· Garden Parties
· Cocktail parties
· Formal dinners
· Formal dances
· Engagement parties
· Weddings
· Baptisms
· First Communions
· Bar Mitzvahs
· Other Religious Ceremonies
· Galas
· Graduations
· Award ceremonies
· Movie premieres

Special Occasion apparel

Special occasion day wear, which includes knee or calf-length suits, dresses, skirts, or pants, usually features festive colors, patterns, and trims in a modest style, and may be worn with a hat and matching accessories. Day wear is typically worn to functions that begin late morning or early afternoon, or before 6 pm.

Special occasion evening wear includes cocktail dresses, full length gowns, or separates in flowing, shiny, or beaded fabrics in either modest or shoulder-baring styles. Evening wear is typically worn to functions that begin late afternoon or early evening, or after 6 pm.

A good special occasion wear selection for an average lifestyle includes:

  1 all-season day
  1 summer evening
  1 winter evening

  1 fun day
  2 flirty night

  1 all-season day
  1 summer evening
  1 winter evening

  1 evening

  1 daytime
  1 evening

  1 pastel for summer
  1 velvet for winter

  1 evening jacket
  1 light wrap

  1 evening clutch

  1 pair dress sandals
  1 pair closed toe evening heels
  1 pair strappy metallic sandals

Now as you look over this list, you may think it's a bit excessive for your needs. That's fine. Again, this is for an average lifestyle. If you live a quiet life, an all-season skirt and evening bag may be all you need. If you're a socialite or are in the public eye a lot, this may not see you through a fortnight of events. Again, adjust accordingly.

So how can you cheat if you need a few pieces to do a lot of things? In a word: SEPARATES.

Mixing pieces will make you look like you have a lot more than you really do. You can even pull pieces from your casual or business wardrobes to use for social events, so long as you add an appropriate top and accessories.

Have 3 or 4 special occasions coming up for which you need to dress (graduation, wedding, cocktail party, bridal shower)? If you'll be with different people each time, you could wear the same outfit to each. If you'll be with the same people, wear the same base outfit (suit, blouse and skirt) but change the accessories or your hairstyle.

If you'll be traveling out of town to an event (graduation, wedding, movie premier), be sure to check with your host as to what's appropriate. Generally, the bigger the town, the more formal the attire; the smaller the town, the less formal. This is important. If you've ever gone somewhere and felt like a "city slicker" or "country comes to town," you know what I'm talking about. If you want people to talk to you, dress like the locals; otherwise, you may travel a long distance and get a chilly reception for your trouble.

So what's the bottom line with putting together an appropriate special occasion wardrobe? With a few well-chosen pieces, a few jokes in your back pocket, and a kind word for everyone, you could soon find your social life sizzling with non-stop invitations. Match your clothing with the occasion, and like a fine vintage paired with a tasty entrée, you could soon become a special occasion favorite.


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Occasion Magic," an ebook that shows women how to dress appropriately for every occasion, regardless of where they live. Visit her online at  .
 Occasion Magic teaches you how to dress for special occasions

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