Frame Working Formal Fashion

Dressing up while in college? No, thank you. Anytime I am forced to drop my cozy sweatpants and XL t-shirts and actually look presentable, I am left feeling unsure how fancy dressed up I should actually be. Overdressing and underdressing are some of the worst tragedies a college girl can face (haha). But these years of our lives are filled with important dinners, fraternity formals, and school events.  These four years are a time for when you are transitioning into dressing for the real world, so it is good practice to figure out the dress code.

The wide range of events that require formal attire can be daunting. Semi-formals, for example, you can get away with looking slightly more casual, while galas or school-hosted events you should take more seriously and dress modestly and professionally. Always, always wear something that you are both comfortable and confident in, because at the end of the day it does not matter what you are wearing, it is about you feeling good and having fun at your event. Here are some inexpensive and fashion-forward examples of what to wear for formal occasions on all parts of the scale….

1. Little black jumper [H&M, $49]

This black, incredibly versatile piece is perfect for a semi-formal event. The style and color are flattering and will make your legs look amazing. The jumper can easily be dressed up with a short necklace or choker, a fun pair of heels, or better yet a chunky belt. (Check out this really cute one from Free People!) Bonus--this jumper means you will not have to shave! 

2. Marble midi dress [ASOS, $73]  

This dress can do so much. Because of its length, it can be worn to a more dignified event, but you could definitely still wear it out to a less official event as well because of the cut and print. Midi dresses are also flattering, and this dress would not make the butt look bad either.

3. "Queen of Hearts" mini dress in pink [Free people, $250]  

This dress has both lively texture and color, so wearing a simple pair of earrings would be more than enough. You could wear this to a variety of events. With a jacket over top (like this one!) it could be more formal, giving the dress a cleaner cut look. This dress is also multifaceted in terms of seasons--the pattern can be worn both in the fall and spring semester.

4. Geometric flare dress [Topshop, $130]

You could get away with wearing this dress to a more formal, professional event. It is not too short, and the silhouette is not tight and more classic. The neckline is modest, but the pattern and texture of the dress still keep it interesting and fun. A smoothed back, high ponytail would work well with this dress. 

5. Merlot red strappy lace dress [Revolve, $86]


This asymmetrical dress is in a beautiful and mature color that would look great and stand out at a formal. The model is wearing a dainty pair of black pumps, but I would dare to wear a funky pair of black shoes to go with the soft girly dress. The back of the dress is strappy and revealing, so this would not do well in a professional environment. Instead, wear this to a semi-formal. It is fun and flirtatious and a very easy look. 

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