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StO-Style: Dress to Impress for President’s Ball


President’s Ball is one of the most entertaining events on campus every year, offering Oles the opportunity to mingle and dance while being dressed to the nines.

Admittedly, though, President’s Ball can pose a challenge. As college students, we are so used to schlepping around in sweatshirts and tennis shoes that an event that requires us to dress up may lie a little out of our comfort zones.

Never fear! This article is going to show you how to dress for not only President’s Ball but also almost any formal event you will encounter in the future. Consider this your handy guide to all the weddings, parties, and class reunions (you know you want to go to at least one!) you will be invited to down the line.

Whenever you receive an invitation to an event like the ones mentioned above, be sure to look for words like black tie, formal dress, or semi-formal. These words will clue you in to what attire you are expected to wear.

Black tie: this calls for formal attire, like a long gown or a cocktail dress.

Formal: usually means the same as black tie – women wear cocktail dresses, long dresses, or dressy evening separates.

White tie/Ultra-formal: the most formal option – wear a long gown.

Resort formal: you will normally find this term included in an invitation for a beach or destination wedding. Women should wear something bright and lightweight, like a floral sundress.

Semi-formal/After five: this means that long dresses are not required. Adjust what you wear according to the time of day of the event. If it is an evening event, choose a cocktail dress. If the event takes place during the daytime, go for an appropriate short dress or dressy suit.

Business formal: the idea is to be business appropriate (nothing too slinky or sexy) but still dressed up. Opt for a tailored suit or simple sheath dress.

Cocktail Attire: wear a short, elegant dress. A good choice is your favorite little black dress.

The appropriate attire for President’s Ball could best be described as a combination of semi-formal and cocktail. Men wear anything from nice pants and a button-up shirt to a full three-piece suit. Women wear a myriad of short dresses, though I have seen some Oles wearing longer ball gowns in the past. If you do not have anything in your closet that would work for President’s Ball, here are some options to choose from:

1. $145 – lipsy.co.uk 2. $77 – lipsy.co.uk 3. $150 – modcloth.com 4. $92 – topshop.co 5. $75 – modcloth.com 6. $325 – cynthiarowley.co 7. $90 – jackwills.com 8. $90 – jackwills.com 9. $92 – topshop.com 10. $88 – wallisfashion.com

Choose a brightly colored dress or a floral-themed frock to emulate the gorgeous spring weather that will hopefully accompany President’s Ball. As you can see, most of the dresses I have selected are shorter in length. I prefer a shorter, swingier dress because it is better for dancing, but if you would prefer something longer #10 is a good option.

If you are hesitant to invest in a formal dress, choose one that will work well for several types of events. The more events you can wear it to, the lower the cost per wear (the total cost of the item divided by the estimated number of days you will wear it). The dresses above would also be perfect for summer weddings or cocktail parties.

Once you have selected your dress for the night, adding accessories should be a cinch. For shoes, wear either heels you will be able to dance in (ankle straps are key) or dressy flats. Pick out a few pieces of bold jewelry and you are ready to dance the night away!

Stay fashionable, St. Olaf!

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 Katie is a recent graduate (and proud alum - UM YA YA!) of St. Olaf College, a small liberal arts college in Minnesota. A true Minnesota girl through and through, Katie was formerly a fashion blogger and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus St. Olaf College before becoming a contributing writer for the national site. She currently works as a marketing assistant and is interested in further pursuing a career in marketing, PR, journalism, editing...(she has no idea, if you can't tell). Katie is passionate about traveling and wants to stamp up her passport as much as possible. Katie enjoys social media, blogs, Speculoos cookie butter, dressing for success, fashion magazines and extensively quoting pop culture in social situations (especially 30 Rock). Her one party trick is knowing all the words to "Freaks and Geeks" by Childish Gambino.   
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