Alternative Formalwear

Do you have a big event coming up? Perhaps a wedding, gala, awards ceremony or even prom. All the same, these occasions call for formal attire. If the idea of a conventional dress doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, you may want to consider something a little different. Tomboy-chic and alternative fashion has been storming red carpets and runways for decades, so there’s every reason for you to partake.
Here’s how you can say never to stereotypes and be the belle of the ball your way.
Tailored Suit
A suit can look masculine, feminine or androgynous depending on the cut and how you style it. A boxy blazer with sharp shoulder pads, a crisp shirt and tailored pants brings the gender-neutral essence of the 80s and can be styled with loafers, brogues or even stilettos. For a slightly more feminine suit option, layer a well-fitted jacket and cigarette pants over a lacy or silk bodysuit. Alternatively, skip the underlayer and go for an all-out high-fashion pantsuit with an oversize blazer and wide-leg pants. If you’re petite, give yourself a little more height by styling oversize suits with heels to elongate your silhouette.
Big Boots, Little Dress
If floaty, feminine dresses aren’t your thing, consider styling them with some Dr Marten-style boots for a touch of punk rakishness. After all, opposites attract, and this goes for fashion too. Fabrics such as silk, tulle, chiffon and velvet can be paired with leather boots for a delightful yet edgy juxtaposition. Better still, if your event is boots-friendly, you can mingle and dance the night away in complete comfort.
Chic Co-ords
Co-ords are a simple, elegant way of looking put together with minimal effort. A co-ord differs from a dress by being broken up into two separate matching garments, allowing you to show a little skin if you feel so inclined. A blazer and shorts set made from high-quality silk or linen adds a luxurious quality to an otherwise smart-casual ensemble. You could also consider an off-the-shoulder top with a matching split-leg midi skirt or flared trousers.
Statement Dresses
If you’ve scoured the high street stores for the perfect dress and nothing is taking your fancy, you might find something more suitable in a boutique or high-end department store. Special events call for special pieces, and if you ever needed an excuse to add some to your wardrobe, now’s the time.
Designer pieces are made with quality and artistry in mind, meaning you’ll own a piece of fashion history. Entering the function adored with a cutting edge, statement dress fresh off the runway will guarantee heads turning in your direction. Consider browsing collections by Alexander Wang, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney for sophisticated evening wear with a high-fashion twist.
Daring Jumpsuits and Rompers
Another great alternative to the cut of a dress is a jumpsuit. These failsafe, flattering garments come in a variety of designs from strapless to bodycon to kaftan - there’s something for every style preference. Although jumpsuits look fabulous on a range of body types, they look particularly flattering on an hourglass shape with a smaller waist and fuller bust/hips.
Rompers are essentially jumpsuits with short pant legs. Equally stylish and comfortable, rompers are perfect for showing off your legs at a summer evening do.
Vintage Gems
A fantastic way to ensure your outfit is unique is to source vintage pieces. You might be partial to a sleek 60s shift dress or 50s-style tea-length swing dress complete with a tulle underskirt for fullness. You could even match your hair and makeup to complete a coherent time-capsule look. Fashion trends tend to repeat themselves on a cycle; for example, bold florals and boho maxi dresses reminiscent of the 70s are incredibly on trend right now, along with the figure-hugging slip dresses of the late 90s and early 00s.
Accessories make an outfit complete. For an alternative flare, opt for statement, conversation-starter jewellery or a quirky bag. Swap out the simple gold and silver for dynamic mixed metals and unusual designs. Footwear is also a great way to express your individuality - consider a pair of adorably eccentric Irregular Choice heels or sky-high Paris Texas platform sandals.
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