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Semi Formal dress code lies between formal and cocktail dress. It is more conservative than cocktail attire and dressy, but far from formal. Formal dress usually means long ball gowns, semi formal dress is much more fun and comfortable, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. One golden rule of the semi formal dress: The semi formal dress goes to the knees or lower, but it does not touch the ground; that would make it a formal dress. Wear darker, more formal hues for an evening and light colors and fabrics for a daytime event. Semi-formal fabrics include taffeta, chiffon, velvet, satin, sateen, gossamer, velour, silk, polyester and cashmere.


  • Short afternoon, cocktail and casual-smart dresses are always good choices. The dress should be a bit dressier than a regular daytime dress, though. Find one with embellishment, such as beading or sequins and/ore with luxe fabrics like silk, satin, velvet, jacquard, lace, chiffon and wool crepe or sparkling fabric, if it`s a coctail party or dance. You can wear dress with or without a jacket or wrap. Black and neutral tones like brown, gray are always suitable for semi-formal occasions. Any length dress between mid-thigh and mid-calf is suitable for semi-formal occasions.
  • A long dressy A-line or business-like skirt paired with a nice top, fitted fancy chiffon, lace blouse, or fitted cashmere sweater and statement necklace.
  • Dressy business suits and dress pants can also be appropriate. Try a dressy top, blouse or sweater with a tuxedo, dress pants or with a slim, ankle-length trouser`s made of an appropriate fabric in a dark color and high heels.
  • For a daytime semi formal event in the spring or summer, wear a pretty summer dress, made of a light yet elegant fabric like silk, lace, chiffon or organza. Choose bright or pastel colors, or possibly a floral pattern. Keep jewelry more minimal. Sleeveless or even strapless is an option, just make sure the neckline is well-fitted if you’re top heavy and bring a cardigan or shawl if the event is taking place in a religious center. If you wear black dress pants or skirt, pair them with a nude pump and pastel chiffon blouse to lighten your look. High heels, statement jewelry and a metallic clutch bag dress up your look.
  • For a winter daytime event or a funeral, pick darker, richer colors and more modest fabrics like wool, nylons or jersey. Wear a tailored wool coat over your semi-formal winter ensemble. For a nighttime event in any season, you may choose a shorter dress with more embellishment, such as beading or sequins. When event takes place at night and focuses more on having fun, your semi formal wear may be less modest.
  • You Can Wear All Year Around Sparkling gemstones, pearls, and dressy fashion jewelry are all appropriate. Jewelry should be worn tastefully.
  • Dress shoes are expected, so pair your outfit with dress heels, dressy flats or strappy sandals that coordinate with your outfit color. Dressy flats may also be worn. Heels should range anywhere from two to five inches. Bring an evening bag or clutch to the event. Hats are appropriate for daytime occasions, especially those that take place in a religious center. You may choose to wear a corsage on your shoulder or wrist. Evening gloves are generally too formal but may be worn for some events, like a semi formal school dance.

AVOID: Never wear shorts, pedal pushers, mini skirts, flip flops, winter or rain boots, sneakers, jeans, t-shirt, sportswear, baseball caps or other items associated with casual wear. It is always better to overdress for a semi formal occasion than to underdress. Avoid dresses made of cotton, rayon or denim, as well as garments that are completely covered in sequins, rhinestones or other appliques. A dress or pant suit made of wool, other than cashmere, is also not dressy enough for a semi-formal event.

WHEN TO WEAR IT: Weddings, cocktail party`s, fine restaurants, holiday parties, business meetings or parties, conferences and other corporate events, school dances at the high school or post-secondary school level, weddings, fancy dinners or attending the theater or the ballet. These may be also more serious, conservative occasions like a funeral or memorial, a bar mitzvah or other religious ritual, graduations or a dinner in honor of a celebrated person, either personally or professionally related. Some teen and preteen dances are designated semi-formal.