College formals are the equivalent of a high school homecoming and are the perfect excuse to get glammed up and dressed up for a night of fun. College formals are usually hosted by fraternities and sororities, so if you’re part of a sorority, you’ll probably get an invitation to the spring or winter formal a few weeks in advance. The spring formal is known to be a little more crazy and you’ll be attending the event with a date.
Use this fashion guide to help you pick out the perfect outfits for college formals:
1. Think semi-formal. Even though the college formal sounds like a formal affair, you won’t be going to the event in anything close to a wedding-style dress or prom. One of the key things to remember when shopping for your college formal outfit is it needs to be more on the semi-formal side versus a formal gown. Think cocktail dresses, dressy rompers and cute party dresses when picking out your outfits.
2. Dress for the season. If it’s the spring formal, lighten up the color palette with pink, mint green, cream and beige colors. If it’s the winter formal, choose jewel tones and rich, deep colors for an elegant and sophisticated vibe. You’ll find a variety of dresses and styles that complement your own sense of style and colors that flatter your skin tone so be sure to shop around.
3. Don’t forget about prints. While most cocktail dresses and party dresses are a single color or a color-blocked style, don’t be afraid to play with prints. A printed romper or A-line dress with polka dots can be cute and stylish for formal days. As long as you dress it up with some statement jewelry and the right pair of heels, you’ll be more than formal ready.
4. Know your body type. There are hundreds of dresses, rompers and pantsuits to choose from for the college formal but you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing something that flatters your figure and makes you feel comfortable. After all, your confidence is going to come with how comfortable you feel in your outfit so you don’t want to wear something that makes you feel self-conscious about certain body parts or your figure. Shop around to try different styles and cuts of dresses. A-line dresses, looser-fitting swing dresses and v-neck dresses are universally flattering.
5. Shop with your shoes in mind. You may be on your feet for several hours during the college formal and could be attending pre- and after-parties outside of the dance. Make sure the shoes you choose are going to keep you comfortable all night long. What you wear might dictate your heel choices so you’ll need to plan accordingly. Don’t forget that platform heels and wedge heels add some comfort to your step and could be a more practical option than stilettos on formal night. You can still wear stilettos but packing a backup pair of shoes could help save you from some unnecessary discomfort as you party the night away.
6. Don’t forget the bridesmaids’ section. If you’re having a hard time finding the perfect dress in the cocktail dress or party dress section of the store, don’t overlook the bridesmaids’ dress collections. Even though some of these dresses can be more formal in style, you can find some simple and classic dresses that are perfect for the college formal. Look for halter-style dresses with wider skirts or chiffon-layered dresses in a neutral color to put together a show-stopping look.
7. Try on a bodycon dress. If you want to show off your figure, you’ll want a figure-hugging dress that accentuates your curves. Bodycon dresses are still in style and can be a perfect pick for college formals if you wear them with the right shoes and accessories. Since they’re made of a stretchy material, you’ll find it’s easy to move around in them and some styles are made with spandex for a little extra stretch and comfort.
8. Choose the right bag. You’ll be spending a lot of time on the dance floor and at parties outside of the event so you don’t want to stress about hauling around a heavy bag all night. Pack for the occasion by limiting what you carry around. Pick up a miniature tote or handbag that matches your outfit and isn’t going to be a burden to carry around as the night wears on. If you absolutely need to pack makeup, perfume, hairbrushes and styling tools to get through the night, consider packing a separate tote bag that you leave in your car or at a friend’s dorm room so you don’t have to carry everything to and from the event.
9. Match your style with your sorority sisters. Even though you’ll be going to the college formal with a date, you’ll be partying with a crowd and will likely meet up your with your sorority sisters before, during and after the event. Have some fun with outfits that complement what your sorority sisters are wearing so you all stand out as a group. You could all wear the same color but different styles of dresses, wear similar jewelry and accessories or wear the same style of shoes to match up.
10. Don’t forget the jewelry. Statement jewelry can transform a basic outfit and add a glamorous touch to your look. Take some time to shop around for statement jewelry that will draw attention to your best features and choose a metal that flatters your skin tone. A statement necklace worn with a deep v-neck dress or a stack of bangles worn with a strapless dress can make a powerful fashion statement. Keep things simple and elegant with a pearl necklace and matching earrings or wear a layered necklace for more drama.
College formals are among the most-anticipated events of college life and give you the chance to show off your sense of style while partying with your favorite sororities and fraternities. Use these tips to put together a killer college formal outfit for the upcoming spring or winter events on campus.