Decoding black tie code – A speedy guide to black tie dresses

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Florence Art Jones
Fashion blogger. Entertaining stories, creative ideas, expert reviews and personal opinions. The author of Most brilliant formal dresses for Autumn/Winter 2013-14 and Most brilliant statement shoes for Autumn/Winter 2013-14. My favorite world cup game is Monkey World Cup now!
Florence Art Jones
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black tie dresses

Hepburn via Flickr CC Attribution

Strengthen your assets, Downplay your imperfections!

I went to a company function last week, with a black tie dress code, and it shocked me how many women just do not know how to dress for their bodies. The black tie code can be interpreted in so many ways and yet I saw so many women playing it safe and sticking to the classic strapless dress with an A-line skirt. Yawn!

Black tie dresses just as white party dresses are like any other fashion items. You dress to enhance what you do have and do like, and downplay what you don’t have or don’t like. Sure, don’t get me wrong girls, dressing for these events can be daunting, but in the immortal words of Gore Vidal “style is knowing who you are and what you want to say”, here are a few black tie dresses ideas to help you know what you want “say” in the Autumn/Winter season of 2013-14.


Let’s start with neck lines. Strapless is a common neckline on a black tie evening dress. If you have good décolletage then embrace the strapless and work that to your advantage. The strapless dress leaves you with a lot of exposed skin across the neck and shoulders, so make sure you wear a statement necklace to avoid looking bare.

Halter necks or dropped necklines can sometimes be trashy, but if you are blessed with good bosom then work it out. I think the effect of cleavage is all about how you wear it. You can be cheap and trashy with your Betty Boops out, or you can be that curvaceous goddess showcasing said curves. No need to hide and nothing to be shy about, all at the right measure and

the right quantity. Showing less, normally, leaves more for the imagination.

For Different Figures

If you have a curvaceous figure then embrace your femininity. Mermaid evening dresses are tight all the way down your body, clinging to your bust, waist and thighs. This style of dress creates a feminine and sexy silhouette which suits hour glass shaped bodies. I think this look is very 50’s glamor and I simply adore it. Nina Dobrev (AKA the lovely Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries) absolutely worked her curves in a stunning red mermaid dress at the Grammy’s last year; she quite literally sizzled on the red carpet. Yes, low and behold the awesome power of a red maxi dress!

If you have a slimmer frame and are lacking in the curve department then a strapless dress that cinches just under the bust is a flattering cut. The floaty bubble skirt then flows from the narrowest point of your waist, giving the illusion of curves. A ribbon under the bust will accentuate your waist as a belt would. A simple satin sheath dress also suits a more willowy frame, accentuating height and achieving a graceful and beautiful image. Mila Kunis was dressed beautifully for her slim figure at the Oscar’s in 2011, in a lilac A-Line dress with lots of layers to the skirt, creating the illusion of curves.

If you have a stockier frame then avoid strapless dresses as they expose the width of your shoulders. If you can make your shoulders appear narrower, your whole frame appears slimmer. Little cap sleeves will break up your shoulders to lessen their appearance. Also avoid any bold prints or patterns if you want to appear slimmer. Darker colors will also make you look narrower. Drape dresses most certainly will confuse the eye and direct attention away from a broad mid-section.

If you don’t like your arms then you could opt for either a longer sleeved dress, or a little lace cover up. A cover up will cover just your arms without interfering with the lines of the dress at all.

Et voilà, there is really no reason for you not to look fabulous, whatever your shape is, the important thing is to feel comfortable with your body and the rest will follow.

Yours truly,