Colgate Couture – Taking the Fear out of Formals

Laura Stoloff

The time of year has come. Giddy girls slip into their dress to impress, pull their hair back into a sophisticated chignon or let it loose in luscious waves. They slip on the perfect pair of heels and glide out the door to their man of the evening. Yes, formal season has arrived. Whether for a sport, club, sorority or fraternity, formal season can cause more ups and downs than the rocky relationship of John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston. Who do I invite? What do I wear? Will my date think I’m too tall in my heels?

Well, don’t invite the boy you merely tapped at the jug last Saturday, and if you really want to stand out from the crowd, show your leading man what you’re really about in a head to toe outfit that will leave him thinking one word: “Wow.”

This season, black reigns above all with not only one silhouette. There’s a style for all this winter whether a sexy one shoulder, iconic full skirt, body-hugging mini, plunging neckline, classic strapless, sleek mini, shimmering sequins or structural cocktail dress. Depending on your body type and taste, all styles will provide a fresh look during these dreary months.

Asymmetric tops reveal the perfect amount of chest and shoulder while giving extra support to the well endowed. You won’t have to compromise your wild dancing and risk loosing your top half all night. Black gives a dress added sophistication and small detailing at the shoulder will spice up the look, whether with a bow, ruffles or crystal detailing.

The full-skirted dress appears lady-like and has a classic sophistication that any boy will adore. But with this conservatism calls for a little roughing around the edges. Pair it with a stand out clutch in gold and slip on fierce booties or red patent leather pumps for an extra oomph. Make sure the top fits to perfection in fear of your figure getting lost in such a voluminous style.

Body-hugging minis like the Hervé Léger by Max Azria Bandage dress requires a svelte body, but just like a bandage, will nip-tuck your figure in an instant. Don’t dabble in other colors because anything but black will look needlessly unflattering. The plunging neckline works best on a smaller chest and will leave every guy wanting more. The v-neck serves as the perfect backdrop to your gorgeous jewels, but make sure to wear your hair up to leave your collarbone and shoulders exposed.

The cocktail dress is always a staple and this season allows for experimenting with sculptural shapes. Channel the strapless Moschino Cheap & Chic mini-dress with a structured empire waste, flattened bow over the bust and shimmering brocade fabric. This feminine look will undoubtedly make you more than desirable.

Feel romantic? Get lost in ruffles for a flirtation that will keep you twisting and twirling all night. Steer clear of ruffles from top to bottom, and pick dresses with a fitted strapless top and bottom ruffle details. Booties will make this less girly and more rocker. And lastly, don’t shy away from all-over sparkles. Who doesn’t want to turn heads? A sequined dress screams life of the party, but when done horribly wrong can leave you looking like a hooker. Pick styles with longer lengths to keep the look classy, not flashy.

Crave a splash of color? Jewel toned dresses still stand out this winter, in bright yellows, deep purples and emerald greens. Cognac and champagne colors have also made their appearance on the Fall 2008 runways. And for an added effect, pay attention to the finer details amongst the sea of black dresses. Clutches in purples, gold and silver and even studs will take your look from simple to undeniably chic. If you decide to stick with the black dress and still feel the need for something brighter, colored tights can turn any plain Jane into the “it” girl of the party. Keep the black dress short and pair with cobalt blue tights.

Now, for what not to do. Wearing tights is fine, BLACK tights (and of course colored, done right). But please spare us all and throw away your mother’s nude stockings. Nothing’s worse than skin colored tights with heeled sandals. No excuse. Also, even though tall heels can cause some serious pain in the foot department, make an effort to keep the same shoes on your feet all night. Uggs on the dance floor look desperate, not trendy. No need to fret this formal season. With the perfect dress and bold accessories every girl will leave their guy utterly speechless.