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Gala Dresses 101: Complete Guide For Beginners

Gala events typically include dinner, dancing, entertainment, silent auctions or raffles, and may involve a type of theme. If you’re hosting or chairing this glamorous event, the desire to dress to impress is even greater. Isa Fabrics has been a long-standing luxury fabric destination in Miami for those seeking unique and memorable gala dresses to stand out.

Since receiving an invite to attend a gala doesn’t happen all the time, attending such an event could very well be your fashion highlight of the year. We understand the idea of choosing what to wear for this type of special occasion can use reassurance, so we have some expert tips to get you started. And feel free to stop by our Miami Design District location to start making your vision into reality.

How To Dress For A Gala?

While you want to follow the dress code, it’s just as important to feel comfortable in whatever you choose to wear. Generally speaking, gala etiquette calls for an evening dress, show-stopping heels, a small clutch bag, and statement jewelry.

No matter what you decide to wear, this is your chance to go all-out with the glamour while showing your personality. Here are some of our favorite Haute Couture styles that make sure you shine at the gala party.

Understand Formal Dresses For Your Body Type

Curvy bodies come in different shapes and sizes so choosing the perfect plus size dress for your body type can be a challenge. Being in Miami, we know that not all curves are the same, and our luxury fabric options take that into account. In fact, we have a dressmaking guide to fabrics that you can read for more on choosing the right fabrics. Our designers are always hard at work to ensure we have a variety of plus size special occasion style options to flatter a wide range of curvy bodies.

You can also use the traditional guideline for shopping based on body shapes. Hourglass shapes will typically have a full bust and hips paired with a smaller waist. Fitted plus size dresses for women will look great on hourglass shapes, as it highlights and compliments every curve.

With apple shapes, the widest measurements will be around the midsection. Shoulders, hips, and thighs will usually be slimmer in comparison. With apple shapes, elongating the waist with optical illusion styles will always be flattering. For example, any women’s plus size dresses that have ruching in the midsection will always be a great choice. Plus size gala dresses with sleeves are always a great option, too.

For pear shapes, the hips will have the widest measurements along with a smaller upper body frame. In this case, while creating a look, you will want to find styles that draw any attention to the upper body while having a good length to elongate the legs.

Rectangle shape does not have any defined curves but actually makes this body shape easier to style. Any curve-creating technique in women’s plus size dresses, such as cinching, will compliment you.

Long Gala Dresses versus Short Gala Dresses

If it’s a Semi-Formal Gala, the attire is a bit more relaxed with a casual atmosphere. Men can wear a sleek business suit while the ladies can be a bit more at ease with a cute cocktail dress or midi dress. Prints and fun color combinations are welcome. The beaded sequin cocktail dress is the perfect styling for a semi-formal or cocktail attire event.

At a Black-Tie Optional Gala, less dressy attire is fine. A tuxedo becomes optional for men as they can opt for a dark suit with a black tie. Women can still wear formal evening gowns or a dressy cocktail dress. You might even consider dressy separates to give you more choices in fabrics.

Formal Dresses for Galas

That said, a typical gala is a Black-Tie Formal affair, often held to support a worthy cause, non-profit group, or another special occasion. As this event is a dressier affair, men wear tuxedos while women wear long formal evening gowns. Rich, bold colors for dresses work for this, but that doesn’t mean you have to be toned down.

Embellished formal beaded dresses embody elegance and luxury. If you want something that shows elegance without being too flashy, a formal lace gown lets you perfectly complement your date’s attire without being overpowering so you can be a true power couple.

The easiest way to grasp what to wear is to think of the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards. If you can imagine your dress at the Oscars, then it should fit right in at a black-tie charity gala. South Florida doesn’t have the Oscars or the Met Gala, but in Broward and Miami Dade alone, countless more are taking place in the next several months.

Events such as the Vizcaya Ball, the Bass Ball, St. Jude’s Angels and Stars Gala, Make a Wish Ball, PAMM Art of the Party, Golden Angels Gala benefiting the Miracle Fund at Jackson Health Foundation, the Diamond Ball benefiting Nicklaus Children’s Health System, and the list goes on.

Tips To Keep In Mind For Your Gala Outfit

  • Think Elegant and Glamorous. Any function with a black-tie dress code means you are expected to go all out. This is as formal as you are likely to ever dress. Wear sparkle and shine, go for sheer or other embellishments. However, you don’t want to overdo it, and that’s when we step in. Visit Isa Fabrics and we’ll be your truthful best friend making sure you look fabulous.
  • Be Comfortable. This is also a night to enjoy! You don’t want sore feet or wardrobe malfunctions. Avoid dresses that are too tight, revealing or scratchy. Make sure you can walk and dance in your shoes long before you step out the door.
  • Think Stylish over Trendy. A beautiful cocktail dress no longer fits into one mold of long and somber. Play with length, but just be sure it is no shorter than just a touch above the knee in order to remain formal. Celebrities often wear chic formal separates like a silk blouse and a full satin skirt so it has become widely accepted.
  • Be Colorful. Black tie used to mean black dress, but now adding color is more than acceptable, it is actually encouraged! The trick is to match the color of the dress to the mood of the evening. For example, black and dark colors may be more suited to a gala that has to do with finance, politics or law, while bright colors would be totally appropriate for a Caribbean Ball or a children’s hospital gala. Another trick is the time of year – in winter and autumn, jewel and earth tones look great, while in spring and summer fuchsia, orange and bright red gowns can be stunning for the proper charity dinner.

Make Isa Fabrics Your Gala Gown Showroom

Whether you’re headed to a charity ball, formal dinner, or any other kind of black-tie affair this gala season, don’t even think about renting a ball gown to fit the dress code when ISA can help you create something truly special.

Make an appointment with our in-house designer today so you’re just in time for the ball!

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