This is a thread about your A-Game, SE++. No, not your game-playing A-Game. Your fashion A-Game. Let's talk formalwear and dressing to the absolute fanciest you can manage. It is a confusing topic for heaps of folks purely because it seems there's an arbitrary line dividing what's formal for THESE occasions, what's formal for THOSE occasions, and what's just not formal at all. In some cultures it's your national dress that is the most formal you can get!
Then there's business formal versus evening wear. White tie versus black tie. Something called morning dress. And the language around it is not just inconsistent at times, but is always changing. Black tie is nowadays used to indicate when something is pretty super formal. It used to refer to a step down from the super-ultra formal attire white tie. Way to be racist, formalwear.
And let's not get started on what "business casual" or "semiformal" really mean, because there seems to be as many interpretations of those as there are venues in which you can HAVE a "business casual" or "semiformal" event.
In some respects men's formalwear (at least in the West) is way more convoluted than women's. Lots of more rules, I think, in terms of when and where to wear what and why. There are specific requirements, not just in the style of a jacket (waistcoat, tails, etc) but also in how it fit and where everything sat and how it was put on and tied and fastened. Insane. Watching Downton Abbey, therefore, is fascinating to me. These people change into formalwear JUST TO GO DOWNSTAIRS FOR DINNER. (Yes, most of my interest in this area is informed in no small part by Downton Abbey.)
For Western ladies, it was really all about the ankles. Formalwear consisted of a gown that covered your ankles, and anything that showed them was considered scandalous or casual. Gloves were expected.
Nowadays, of course, the lines have blurred significantly now that there aren't the same expectations. You're lucky if you know what's appropriate to wear to a given party or get-together. "Formal" is anything from a full-blown ball gown to a prom dress to a cocktail number to an Oscars red-carpet ensemble. Certain accessories - blazers, jewelry, bags, shoes, belts, pocket squares, ties - can make the whole outfit less or more formal depending on hwo you wear it!
I always stress about whether or not I'll be over- or under-dressed, and I freak out if I don't feel like I've dressed appropriately for the venue. I also really, really miss wearing national dress, because it felt like some very important cultural undertones going into it, and this was for both Chinese and Filipino traditional dress. And you looked so FANCY! There's a part of me that wishes I could get invited to an Indian wedding just so that I can witness being in the middle of all the beautiful colors and what the components are all meant to signify or represent.
In this thread, let us discuss our interpretations of modern formalwear. Whether it's a gown, cocktail dress, three-piece suit, pantsuit, tuxedo, show us it. Need to fix up your hair or do your make-up for the occasion but not sure how? Not sure if something is too formal or not formal enough? Need to buy a suit or gown or other get-up for an event but don't know where to start? We have plenty of folks here who are well-versed in that sort of thing, so do post any questions!