Formal Wear - it's Rules and Secrets Decoded

Just as in dancing, there are rules and etiquette to follow when selecting formalwear

Just as in dancing, there are rules and etiquette to follow when selecting formalwear

If you are going to a formal event such as a wedding, charity ball or any type of black or white tie affair, men wear a tuxedo and woman wear long, ball gowns.  Seems easy enough.  Expensive, yes, but not so difficult.

But wait.  Just like in dancing, there are rules and etiquette to follow.

Let’s start with sleeve length.  The white shirt that you wear with your tuxedo must have sleeves that go to the base of your thumb.  The black jacket sleeves must then show ¼ to ½-inch of the shirt sleeve.  No more, and no less.  And when you are heading to the dance floor, either button your coat or remove it.

For woman, if ballroom dancing is part of the function, don't wear baggy dress sleeves, as your partner’s hands can get caught in them.  Also, if you are doing very active dances, beware of strapless dresses, as it’s not so pleasant for your partner to have to touch your damp skin.

For men, your cummerbund or vestmust cover the waistline of your pants.  A vest can be a better option if you are going to be dancing a lot and want to take your coat off.  If, on the other hand, you have some especially nice studs for your shirt, or you’re the kind of guy who prefers leaving your coat on, you may prefer a cummerbund.  If you have some cuff links you want to show off.  And lets face it, if you wear cuff links, you should show them off; then you have to get up and dance, giving the room an optimal view of those beauties.

Instead of a cummerbund or vest women have accessories such as wraps or jewelry.  Don’t wear anything that is going to overpower the look of your gown.  Stay away from clunky or swingy jewelry that can get caught on your partner’s clothing or scratch his skin when you get up and dance.  Leave hats at home, and if you wear a pretty barrette or hair piece, make sure it’s secure when you dance.  You don’t want any flying objects or maimed dancers.

Shoes – men should wear shiny black leather shoes.  No casual, loafer-type shoes.  High-heeled ballroom shoes for women work great for long gowns.  Stay away from flats, rubber shoes, flip-flops and ballerina shoes which are not acceptable.  Do not wear anything with a rubber or spongy sole because when you get up to dance your shoes will stick to the floor and could cause injury.

So, when you get the invitation to that formal event, be excited, but also, be aware because – there are rules to follow.