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If you’re planning to attend a gala event (which often refers to “black-tie attire”), plan to dress to the hilts. While it’s customary for men to wear black tuxedos to a gala event, that doesn’t mean women have to wear black dresses. In fact, you can have fun with color by opting for a gorgeous vibrant-hued gown!

Style Guide: What To Wear To a Gala Event

To help you plan a stunning outfit for a gala event, today’s style guide shares 10 tips on what to wear to a gala.

Style Guide - What To Wear To A Gala Event

Shop for a Gown

While it’s suitable to wear cocktail dresses and jumpsuits to most parties or evening events, a gala is a dressier occasion. Therefore, it’s expected for you to wear a full-length gown.

When shopping for a gown, here are a few style tips to keep in mind:

  1. Look for a silhouette that flatters your shape. Do you have an hourglass, apple, pear, or ruler shape? Thinking about your shape can help you narrow down the selection of gowns. As an example, if you have a pear-shaped or hourglass figure, an A-line or ballgown silhouette is especially flattering. As an alternative, to highlight your curves, a mermaid or trumpet silhouette (like the La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni gown shown here) is a great way to go.
  2. Choose a color that looks great on your skin tone. If you have a fair or dark complexion, a bright jewel-tone color (such as fuchsia pink, royal blue, or emerald green) looks amazing. If, however, you’re tan or have a golden complexion, opt for a beautiful muted shade (like salmon, sage green, or lilac).
  3. Pay attention to the fabric and construction. To ensure your gown looks classy and elegant, pay attention to the fabric. Satin, silk, and velvet are always luxe-looking materials; whereas fabrics like polyester can sometimes look cheap. The only exception is a thick stretch jersey (as shown here), which, can still exude a high-end look. Always make sure that the seams are well-done and that the tailoring is impeccable. This makes a world of difference between the look of a designer gown and an inexpensive garment.

Style Guide - What To Wear To A Gala Event

Choose Tasteful Dressy Jewelry & Accessories

When styling an outfit for a gala event, it’s wise to choose tasteful dressy jewelry and accessories. Jewelry and handbags should accessorize the gown by complementing it rather than competing with it.

  1. Opt for luxurious-looking jewelry. Diamonds, classic pearls, semi-precious gemstones, and platinum and gold jewelry are always great options. If you don’t have the budget to buy the real thing, well-constructed gold-plated or Cubic Zirconia jewelry can also work.
  2. Let your gown be the guide. If you have a high neckline, opt for statement earrings and a bracelet (like the Oscar de la Renta earrings and bracelet pictured here). If you have a plunging neckline, wearing a simple lariat or a pendant necklace are both stylish options.
  3. Less is more. As Coco Chanel said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This means – don’t go overboard with jewelry or accessories. That’s why a few select pieces of gorgeous jewelry is better than wearing every bauble you own.
  4. Leave the tote bag at home, and opt for a small evening clutch (like this stylish Edie Parker bag) to carry must-haves, like keys, a cell phone, wallet, and lipstick.

Style Guide - What To Wear To A Gala Event

Let Makeup Enhance Your Natural Beauty

While you might think that dressing for a gala means looking like an Instagram, having a light-handed approach to your makeup is smarter. Makeup ideally enhances your natural beauty, rather than covering it up. The goal should be to get compliments on how beautiful you look, instead of hearing “your makeup looks great”.

  1. To make skin look more flawless and ensure your makeup lasts all night, use a face primer. Primers help foundation glide on more evenly, in addition to minimizing fine lines, wrinkles, and pores. Plus, some primers help zap up extra oil, which helps your face look less shiny as the night goes on.
  2. Blend, blend, blend. When applying foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, or contour makeup, buff them into your skin with a makeup brush or sponge applicator. This prevents noticeable lines of demarcation and makes face makeup look more natural. Face makeup should enhance your skin, rather than making it look like you’re wearing a mask.
  3. Go for a bold lip or dramatic eyes, but not both. Decide which singular facial feature you want to highlight. If you love your lips, opt for a statement lipstick (that coordinates with your gown color). If you prefer to emphasize your eyes, keep your lips neutral (by wearing a nude or soft pink shade).

Style Guide - What To Wear To A Gala Event

For more style tips and inspiration, check out the Fashion & Style section on Inspirations & Celebrations.

Style Guide - What To Wear To A Gala Event

Shop The Style Guide:

Photography by James Molinaro (JM3)

Fashion Stylists: Tracy Odle (Augustina’s Designer Boutique) & Christina-Lauren Pollack (I&C)

Apparel, Jewelry, Handbag, and Shoes c/o Augustina’s Designer Boutique
Location: The Trident House c/o Peter Butler (Carmel Realty Company) & Ben Zoller (Monterey Coast Realty).
About the property: This exquisite, custom contemporary home is located in the prestigious Golden Triangle of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and boasts breathtaking views of Carmel Bay. This modern take on casual coastal California living ups the ante with its airy, open living quarters that are surrounded by dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, a landscaped outdoor entertaining space, and meticulously-crafted commercial-grade finishes.

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  1. I’ve been looking for a bracelet that I can wear for a prestigious event, which is why I’m currently looking for a jewelry store that may provide that. I agree with you that gild jewelry will always be the best option for this type of event. You’re also right that a lariat will suit my plunging neckline gown.

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