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Advice on what to wear to a formal event for a non-European?

(21 Posts)
bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 05:32:30

I'm not used to dressing formally because I come from an area where standards are very casual. Could someone help me avoid standing out for the wrong reasons (again) at a formal event?

I have to go to a dinner for someone who is being promoted to full professor at a fancy university. Would it be OK to wear trousers? I have my eye on this outfit:

Or should I get this (I like it, but wouldn't wear it as often):

Or neither?


rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 05:39:11

Which university? in my experience of academics at Oxford, say, sartorial sense really isn't their selling point..... (and plenty of the women wear trousers for all occasions).

I think if you look groomed and as though you've made an effort, and more importantly YOU feel good, you'll be fine.

All that said - grin - I don't think the first outfit is quite right. The dress is nice, but why not go for some colour?

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 05:40:18

(With apologies to all academics at Oxford. And I must say I truly admire the non materialistic, democratic disregard for the superficial that seems to come with being a giant brain.)

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 05:44:45

I only wish it were true that style didn't matter. I would bet my next paycheck that those people you have in mind from Oxford would have put as much thought into their dirty jeans as Kim Kardashian does into her outfits.

As far as the "first" outfit, do you mean the trousers not being quite right?

The dress doesn't come in a different shade.

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 05:45:55

Wait, is it weird to wear all black these days? If so, I'll look for another dress!

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 05:47:54

I'm not thinking of ones in dirty jeans, but people properly and carefully dressed in things that were totally unstylish grin

Is it weird to wear all black..... no, I don't think so, but I something about it seems a little dreary for the occasion. I think if you do wear all black, it will have to be more formal than outfit 1.

Are you in the states? (so am I, but I'm British). what size are you?

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 05:48:25

I think the top in the first outfit doesn't look particularly well made, and you can do better for the money.

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 05:53:54

This is similar to the dress that you like, but I think looks better made (matte, slightly textured fabric, more interesting cut) and comes in navy, which is less harsh than black. Cheaper too. What do you think?

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 05:58:03

Thanks a lot for your advice. I'm a size 14w in the US and I'm quite tall and broad-shouldered (think Brienne of Tarth), so delicate items usually don't look great on me. I like to cover my upper arms.

I live in the UK, but am used to California-type style. In my field there, everyone competes to look as low-key as possible. Things are different in Europe. I have to look serious, but not too serious (so your comment about the dress looking a bit dreary is very useful). I keep getting comments about looking more formal!

Thanks for your advice about the top. Back to the drawing board then! Aargh.

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 06:01:03

Thanks! I really like that dress and I'm usually not enthusiastic about dresses! It's my favorite color. Now I just have to figure out the size.

It would be great not to spend much money. I'm helping my mother renovate her house so she can sell it, so I'd prefer to be buying rugs!

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 06:13:51

And I live in California! grin

I'm so glad you like the dress! if the fit works for you, it's the kind of thing you'll pull out and wear once or twice a year for ages - it'll cover you for the odd occasion you do need to be formal. I don't think it'll date much, and the way you style it is easily changed. (Right now, I'd wear it with some bright pointy flats).

Boden usually has a code floating round for 15 or 20% off with free delivery and returns, so you can order a few sizes to try without being left out of pocket.

Oh yes here you go, apparently M96K is 15% off, free delivery & returns until today (for you), the 24th.

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 06:16:31

This would be fab on a tall woman too.

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 06:19:41

I like it, but I'm probably too hippy for it. I really appreciate your suggestions.

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 06:20:50

Wow, thank you so much for the code. You have saved my bacon. I got up today in a bad mood because I didn't want to have to spend money on an outfit that probably wouldn't be right anyway. It is solved before breakfast!

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 06:30:26

No worries! I hope that it suits. Go for a print if you want to unleash your inner hippy smile

COS is a lovely shop too, it's slightly left field so the cuts are hit and miss (but many would suit someone tall and broad shouldered), but it's always interesting and the fabrics are incredibly good for the money. It will only let me link to the US site but perhaps will take you to the UK one:

I think they only go up to a US 12 / UK 16 but I often size down so perhaps you would too.

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the event!

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 06:33:05

I'm so grateful. I hope you're online next time I'm in a bind!

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 06:33:50


probably will be as I have no life

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 06:39:04

Me too, me too... Which is probably why I have nothing to wear to this. I will have to arrange other activities so I get to wear it again.

rootypig Sat 24-Jan-15 06:43:20

Yes! having something wonderful that you're excited to wear is a great feeling.

JeanSeberg Sat 24-Jan-15 07:22:54

I really like the dress. I'd wear it with red heels.

bzz7 Sat 24-Jan-15 07:46:35

Thanks Jean.

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