Fashion for Special Occasions – Eveningwear

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Nailing Your Eveningwear Look
Advice from the Experts

Dressing for a special occasion can be challenging.  With year-end balls, weddings and cocktails all gathering that end-of-year momentum, it can be stressful too. Who better to ask for advice for special occasion and eveningwear than fashion designers who specialize in the field. We had a chat with three experts in fashion-for-special-occasions to gather their top tips and tricks for nailing your eveningwear look every time.

Greta Kate, Designer GretaKate

DesignerGreta Kate

Designing for: 10 years.
Studied: Bachelor of Fine Arts (Fashion Design) at QUT; Advanced Diploma of Fashion Design and Technology at TAFE SA.
Reason for choosing Couture & Bridal: I love working in Bridal because I love the relationships I build with my clients. There is nothing more satisfying than making someone feel incredible on their wedding day.
Most frequently asked questions: What silhouette suits my shape?

What kind of advice do you give your clients when it comes to deciding on styles or designs?

It’s so important to choose a design that will make you feel amazing. It shouldn’t necessarily be a style you’ve never worn before, rather a “gown” version of your wardrobe. For example, if you love wearing crew neck tees, why not choose a gown that has a high neck? Chances are you will love that too. The design should always flatter your shape and this needs to come first. The finer details of fabric and lace can bring out your personality.

Stick to what you feel comfortable in. Use your everyday clothing as inspiration – what do you love wearing day-to-day and what kind of silhouette is it? Find formal wear based around necklines or silhouettes you wear often. There is nothing worse than feeling self-conscious at a formal event.

Have you noticed any major trend changes in fashion for special occasions?

Sleeves! Everyone loves a sleeve and so do I. They are elegant, they can cover your arms (as many of us like to do!) and there are so many beautiful shapes of sleeves that can make a plain gown interesting and unique.

Any tips for those looking to really elevate their eveningwear game?

Accessories. A well put together formal look needs to be paired back with the right accessories. A plain gown calls for some special jewels and shoes, whereas a detailed gown is best with simple pieces. I love to wear and feel more comfortable in neutral tones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add colour to your shoes or handbag.

Greta Kate eveningwear

In your experience, what are the most flattering design elements?

Necklines are the best place to start. V-necklines are very versatile for women with larger or smaller busts.

Do you think longstanding ideas about dress codes and what’s appropriate or not for a formal occasion are still intact?

You should always stick to the dress code if possible. It’s there for a reason. Cocktail means short gowns, black tie means long gowns or at least more elaborate elegant gowns.

What’s your go-to look for a fancy night out?

A black dress. You can never go wrong. You will always feel comfortable and look sophisticated.

Nasreen Jawad, Designer

Designing for: 2 years
Studied:
Bachelor of Architectural Studies at Uni SA; 
Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising at TAFE SA
Reason for Choosing Couture & Bridal: Encouraged to enter the world of bridal and couture after winning the public vote that delivered my first clients
Most Frequently asked Questions: How did you start your business by yourself? As well as questions about the right fit and personalising designs.

What are your expert do’s and don’ts for those who might be intimidated by the challenge of dressing for a special occasion?

You have to be able to wear what you want without feeling bad about what others might think, I personally think society has conditioned us to follow a lot of unnecessary rules and boundaries in regards to fashion.

I would say never size down. You need at least 2cm of extra room for breathing. Remember, if you are comfortable, it’s more likely that you will enjoy yourself and the occasion.

If you are wearing tight clothes, try to find seamless underwear. Try to minimise your jewellery and accessories, less is more.

This might sound cliché but never show up to someone else’s wedding wearing a long white tone dress. I’ve heard stories from my clients that a guest has worn flowy dress in a very light-yellow shade and it came out completely white in the pictures. Don’t do it unless you want a mortal enemy for the rest of your life!

Is there a particular factor that is most important when deciding on a dress?

You should be able to express your personality through your style. Dressing according to your body type will flatter your look even more. If you want something that represents your individuality, you should visit your local designer or stylist; this way you can get the right fit, colours, fabric and the design according to your taste.     

Remember you are wearing the dress; the dress is not wearing you!

Any advice for those looking to totally elevate their eveningwear game?

Simplicity is always the key; a clean look will always stand out more than a busy and miss-matched look.  I am a huge fan of Kibbe System; this system allows us to find out what are our body types and which elements are more complementary. Most design elements are flattering if you know how to pair them in a harmonious fashion.

Avoid putting a lot of different design features in one garment, when I was in fashion school, I saw many ignore this rule, putting five or six uncomplimentary elements in one design. The outcome was always very messy.

What’s your go-to look for a fancy night out?

When you become a designer, you suddenly become quite aware of your sense of style. I personally like to wear one of my own casual, semi-formal dresses but I can’t stand the cold, so I have to have a coat or jacket with me.

Dress by Nasreen Jawad

Photo: keo.cruz

Sanela Tettis, Fashion Lecturer at TAFE SA and Designer at Red Pearl Couture

Designing for: 9 years
Studied: Advanced Diploma in Small Business Fashion Production at TAFE SA
Reason for Choosing Couture & Bridal: I excelled as a pattern maker and I always loved beautiful fabrics, laced and intricate & delicate detail that you find on couture garments. My course gave me the skills and confidence to reach for my goal.
Most Frequently asked Questions: Will this style suit my body? I like all these designs, can we somehow put them all together?

What’s the key to an elevated eveningwear look that will make you stand out from the crowd?

Find a very well fitted dress that highlights your features, nothing too tight or too loose. Aim for simple cuts but stunning, quality fabric. Add an amazing headpiece and a great pair of complimenting heels.

Events requiring formal wear can be daunting for some people. What are your top tips for those who want to play it safe with their eveningwear for a special occasion?

Do wear silhouettes that you have tried before and you know suit your body shape. Less is best so if you have chosen to wear a detailed dress, complement it with nude heels and very simple jewellery. If you are more of a accessories person, opt for an elegant understated dress and accessorise with bold jewellery and heels.

Black is always a safe and flattering option but if you want to be slightly adventurous try a navy or charcoal.  If you love colour but feel you will be uncomfortable, try a stunning red heel and a bright lipstick teamed with a black or white outfit instead. Always check the invite for the dress code and if possible have a look at the event photos from previous years to make sure you don’t arrive under-dressed.

Fashion for special occasions

Have you noticed any major trend changes in fashion for special occasions?

Designers are trying to introduce different style designs such as jumpsuits, wide-leg trousers and matching tops and give their clientele other options than dresses. Adding sleeves is also a trend change, going away from the strapless look. Detachable skirts and trains are also a great change.

Do you have any predictions for future eveningwear trends?

Exaggerated, full sleeves. High necklines. Rich embroidered and beaded designs on tulle and fabric.

In your opinion, what are the most flattering design elements?

Well fitted bustline and waistline with a complimentary fuller skirt. Wide necklines to balance the hips such as boatneck, off the shoulder and V-neck. Least flattering would be fishtail, empire line and ill-fitting garments generally.

Do you think longstanding ideas about dress codes and what’s appropriate or not for a formal occasion are still intact?

I am of the opinion that if you feel good in it and it makes you happy, then wear it. But on the other hand, formal events are called ‘formal’ for good reason and the guests need to respect the invitee’s wishes.

What’s your go-to look for a fancy night out?

A floaty black silk skirt and a well-fitted bodice teamed with glitzy earrings and a great pair of high heels.

Fashion for special occasions

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