Showing up to an event wearing the wrong kind of outfit is probably one of the most common social anxieties women face. Picking the right outfit for a formal occasion can be daunting, so here’s seven essential style tips to help you look your very best for that masquerade ball this season.
1. Take a cue from the dress code stated on the invite
If the invite says cocktail, wear a cocktail dress. If you’re unsure about the dress code, or the invite doesn’t say, don’t be afraid to call the hostess and ask. You can casually slip this into conversation when you call to RSVP: “So, is this a cocktail dress, high heels kind of party?”
2. Rather than going for trends, choose a dress in a classic cut that suits your body shape
L-R: Antonio Berardi, Stella McCartney, Marchesa
It’s easy to get caught up with what everyone else is wearing—what’s on the runways in fashion capitals, what celebrities are wearing, and what the fashionistas in your town are currently donning. But don’t get too caught up in a trend. Trends come and go, but classic cuts (and colors) never go out of style. If you are going to a formal event that requires a ball gown, you may want to invest in a designer piece that is versatile and that you’ll be able to wear in years to come. If you’re unsure of what to wear, choose a black dress; simple and versatile, a beautiful black dress can be accessorized in a multitude of ways to yield different looks.
3. Pick a mask that’s easy to wear
L-R: Colombina Black Velvet 1, Colombina Harlequin Pink Duo, Colombina Gold Ventaglio 6
Not all masks are created equal. Once you know what you’re wearing, pick a well-made, authentic Venetian mask. These are handmade with the finest materials, and the way they are crafted ensures breathability. If you want to be able to eat, dance, and be able to use both your hands throughout the evening, we recommend a Colombina with satin ties.
4. Wear stylish, but comfortable shoes
L-R: Christian Laboutin, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana
All you ladies who’ve endured evenings of agony while standing in too-tight shoes that pinched your toes or sky-high heels that hurt your calves know exactly what we’re talking about. Now, we’re not suggesting you sacrifice style, but pick a shoe with a heel that’s not too high, a platform for added support, and that allows you to walk (and stand) comfortably. If you don’t think you can endure an entire evening in heels, then choose an elegant low wedge, or a sparkly flat sandal. Either of those options is sexier than a cranky girl who can’t wait to sit down and take her shoes off.
5. Accessorize at the very end
L-R: Ana Khoury, Larkspur & Hawk, Olivia Collings
Given that you’re already wearing a masquerade mask, you probably need very little accessorizing. We always recommend elegant earrings and bracelets (or a cuff). We recommend wearing a necklace only if it doesn’t detract from your mask. Simplicity is best, so remember Coco Chanel’s famous words: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”
6. Your hair and makeup should complement your outfit…and your mask
If you’re planning on wearing a masquerade mask, you want to carefully plan your hair and makeup around it, as it will alter the perception of some of your facial features. Here’s our top makeup tips:
- Choose long-wear makeup: this will avoid you having to do any touch-ups, and won’t smudge when you put your mask on.
- Pick a neutral blush color: there will already be a lot going on with your mask, and your cheeks will likely be hidden anyway.
- Match your eyes to your mask: If you’ve chosen a blue mask, for example, go with a blue eye shadow.
- Pick a bold lip color if your mask is a neutral color, and pick a nude lip color if your mask is colorful.
- Your hair style will also need to be considered carefully if you’re wearing a mask. You’ll need to think about where the mask ties, so you can ensure your hairstyle (particularly if it’s an updo) allows the ties to sit comfortably at the back of your head and not slip off. The other thing is you’ll want to make sure your hair is away from your face. This serves two purposes; the first is to better showcase the mask you are wearing, and the second is so that it doesn’t get in your face. There are few things more annoying than a woman who is constantly struggling to keep her hair under control—or who whips her dance partner in the face with her unruly mane.
7. Store essentials in a stylish clutch
L-R: Alexander McQueen, Charlotte Olympia, Nancy Gonzalez
If you are attending a formal event, the only acceptable type of purse is a clutch. A clutch is a teeny tiny handbag (without a strap) that one clutches in their hand. Clutches often fit very little, so our recommendations for masquerade ball essentials are: lipstick (in the shade you’re wearing); hair pins, band aids, Advil (just a couple, not the whole bottle), blotting papers, and wet wipes. And your phone of course.