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Describe Semi-Formal Attire

by Blair Foy, studioD

When thinking of fashion as a journey, semi-formal attire is found between the glamorous land of formal wear and the casual style island of informal looks. As the name suggests, semi-formal clothing is described as moderately fancy. While the tuxedos and full-length gowns of formal attire are not necessary, you do want to be dressed a step up from informal styles such as sundresses and capri pants. Semi-formal attire gives you the opportunity to be more dressy by choosing key areas to make your ensemble pop.

Go Crazy Over Cocktail Dresses

Celebrity Bella Heathcote wore a cocktail dress with a darling and eye-catching lace detail to the 2013 Zurich Film Festival in Switzerland.

The hallmark of semi-formal attire is the cocktail dress. These knee-length dresses come in a variety of styles and colors. When choosing a cocktail dress for yourself, remember to always pick an appropriate fit for your figure. Make sure all fabric has movement -- wearing a cocktail dress that is too tight will cheapen your look. For example, if you have a large bust, consider a cocktail dress with an A-line skirt and sweetheart neckline. A cocktail dress with small cap sleeves is also a good option when trying to shift focus from a large bust. Many cocktail dress styles have lace overlay which mimics a regular neckline -- adding pretty detail to the top of your dress. As this lace neckline draws the eye to its intricate and romantic style, it is a great choice for ladies trying to maximize a smaller bust with their cocktail dress.

Portray a Fashion Powerhouse in Perfect Pants

Actress Angelina Jolie pairs black straight-legged pants with a billowy satin blouse and white blazer for a classically chic semi-formal ensemble.

Although semi-formal attire often makes women think of cocktail dresses, you can wear pants to a special event and still look chic. According to fashion icon Tim Gunn, pants can be every bit as classy as a dress when you follow these simple guidelines. First, always wear straight-legged trousers. Flared or skinny pant styles do not meet the criteria for a semi-formal look, as they are too casual. The extra space of a straight-legged pant ensures that the fabric will have some movement and not be too tight. Add additional glamour to your pants by choosing a rich jewel tone. For example, pair straight-legged emerald-green trousers with a billowy top dotted with white and black polka dots, and slip into a black blazer. Wear shiny, black ballet flats and black bangle bracelets to complete a perfectly chic semi-formal look.

Beautiful, billowy and bold blouses

Actress Alyson Stoner makes her top the focal point of her semi-formal look at an LA movie premiere in 2013.

Just as pants can be dressed up for a semi-formal event, blouses can be appropriate for semi-formal attire as well. Whether your desired look calls for a loose, billowy blouse or a more form-fitted dress shirt, blazers can be a chic way to cap off your look. If you're wearing a blazer, choose one that has a similar fit as your blouse. For example, pair a deep-red, satin fitted blouse with a tailored, black velvet blazer and black dress pants for an elegant semi-formal look. Wear red jeweled earrings and a necklace to highlight the focal color of your look. If you're stepping out in a billowy blouse, wear a looser-fitting, boyfriend-style jacket over your top to keep your style theme consistent. With the variety of blouse styles available, remember these few tips when choosing a top for a semi-formal look. Avoid polyester and cheap-looking fabrics. Make sure your top fits properly and adequately covers your bust line -- excess cleavage is not appropriate for semi-formal attire. Lastly, do not wear a fully sheer top that exposes your brassiere. All undergarments should be properly covered for semi-formal attire.

Sashay Into Your Event With Stylish Shoes

A bright pair of pumps can add a polished pop of color to a semi-formal look.

Whether you pick stilettos, pumps, fashion boots or ballet flats, you have many shoe choices for a semi-formal look. Pair bold-colored clothing with nude shoe choices to highlight the statement hue of your ensemble. If your outfit is neutral in color, your shoes can be the accent of your look with a bold color or pattern. For example, pair a classic little black cocktail dress with royal purple pumps for a regal semi-formal look. You could accent this jewel tone further by having your nails done in a deep purple color. If you're wearing an elegantly patterned navy blue top with chocolate-brown trousers, choose nude-hued fashion boots to add an air of sophistication to your semi-formal look. Pair a demure and delicate pale pink cocktail dress with a matching cardigan and slip into darling silver ballet flats to be the picture of poise and polished style at a semi-formal event. Finally, avoid shoes made of plastic material so that you don't cheapen your look.

About the Author

Blair Foy began writing in 2006. She has been published in the "Rochester Post-Bulletin," "Pierce County Herald," "St. Charles Press," "Red Wing Republican Eagle" and "UW-RF Student Voice." Foy earned a Master of Arts in mass communication from North Dakota State University and a Bachelor of Science in journalism from University of Wisconsin, River Falls.

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