Formal Fashion

Katie Zarrella

Picture this. It’s maybe 30 degrees and you’re outside looking luscious in your very little black dress. The snow is destroying your hour-long hair straightening effort and you’re praying that you won’t slip on a patch of ice in your four-inch stilettos while you walk to a bus that will whisk you away to a bar in the middle of nowhere.

Get ready girls because it’s fancy. It’s fun. It’s formal season and you’re going to need a dazzling dress that will make your night even if your date doesn’t.

Put away the prom gowns, ladies, because a floor length periwinkle princess dress isn’t going to cut it at a Colgate formal. You don’t need to pull a Cinderella in order to look stunning. Subtle elegance is the mark of appropriate attire for these very prestigious Colgate parties.

When looking for a dress, resort to something short. A short dress is best because you’ll be able to move and dance more freely, it’s less likely to wrinkle and you’ll reduce your chances of tripping over yourself. Unfortunately, a few too many vodka tonics may increase your tripping factor, but at least a short dress will minimize the risk. This season’s cocktail and T-length dresses are to die for, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something smokin’ in a shorter style.

Silhouettes this season are slimming, sultry and ultra feminine. The full-skirted bubble dress is one of the most popular and eye-popping styles on the market. The dress’s retro-revisited look helps to make your waist look tiny and you’ll have a blast dancing around, with its bubbly bottom. Taffeta’s structured texture and slight shine make it a fabulous fabric for this dress, which explains why designers everywhere have taffeta bubble dresses in their boutiques. Luca Luca, BCBG, Chloe and Vera Wang are just a few of the designers who have helped this style blow up.

If you feel like being a satin seductress on the night of your formal, slip into one of the sleek, fitted feminine dresses featured for this fall and winter. Figure-hugging bodices are what this style is about, so you might want to hit the gym before slipping into one of these frocks. This dress works best if it hits a little below the knee, and look for neck lines that are either a cut straight across with thick straps or cut in a slight V.

Flowing empire waist dresses create a soft look, especially if they’re silk. Feminine, flirty and fresh, empire waists look best on someone with a smaller chest and will almost always create the look of a sleek physique because they hide everything from the bust down. Try a multi-toned empire with layers that fade as they move down your body for a dramatic, multi-dimensional look.

Black is back in a big way, and designers are all about the Audrey Hepburn look. The little black dress is always a safe choice for any event; but if you’re thinking this year’s black dresses are bland and boring, think again. You’ll find feathers, frills and fantastic beading all over this season’s black beauties. Colorful shoes and jazzy jewelry are definitely a great way to add some bang to your black, but basic pearls or delicate diamonds will maintain that classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s look.

Just because black is big doesn’t mean designers aren’t featuring other courageous colors. Radiating reds and tempting turquoises are the colors to wear if you want to brighten up your formal. Prints are a popular trend, so don’t shy away from something with polka dots or a loud leopard theme.

Most importantly, make sure your dress fits. No one wants to see your bodice buckling or the top of your strapless suffocating your chest. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous the gown is: if it’s not your size, you’ll be catching eyes for all the wrong reasons. When you’re shopping for your big night, search for something that’s going to move with your body, not fight against it. You won’t have fun if you feel like a stuffed sausage.

Don’t worry about your date, and forget that it’s freezing cold. You have the opportunity to delight in dressing up. When you go to school in the middle of nowhere, getting fancy isn’t something you get to do every day.