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Evening wear for a 44 year old

by Cynthia
(Melbourne, Australia)

I am attending a very formal function. Should I wear a long gown? what style or colours are in? I have a nice proportioned figure, but only 5 foot tall. I can carry off most colours except for pale muted pastels. I like it to look a bit sexy, without giving too much away or looking like mutton.

Jane's answer... Hi Cynthia. When considering the level of formality of an event these are some of the things to consider...

  • The reason for the function -- awards ceremony, wedding, fund raiser et cetera

  • What time of day it will be -- such as before 6pm or after

  • Where it will be held – city, town, country; public highbrow venue, private home



Each of these affects the level of formality of an event. You don't say what type of event it will be or where it will be held, but you do indicate it's an evening event. And since you also describe the event as a very formal function it does sound as if a long gown will be required. To confirm the exact dress code it might be safest to check with the organiser.

In general formal attire for women means a short or long gown or evening trousers and dressy top. Formal clothes are very tailored. For day the fabrics are firm, for evening the fabrics are dressy or embellished. To learn more about interpreting the dress code for any occasion I highly recommend the Occasion Magic ebook by Diana Pemberton-Sikes.

Long dress styles



Assuming you do need to wear a long gown your challenge, as a short lady, will be to find a gown that doesn't drown your frame. Look for...
  • Simple lines, without too much fabric in the skirt

  • Plain, rather than patterned, styles. If the dress is embellished, make sure the embellishments are high up on the dress to keep attention towards your face

  • Wear heels, as high as you're comfortable in, with the dress flowing to the floor



Since long dresses are currently in fashion you should find a lot of choice in both styles and colours. Strapless, one shoulder and ruched detailing are some of the main style elements currently in vogue. However, always opt for a style that suits your body shape and a colour that suits your colouring over a trendy style or colour.

Long dress colours


For a very formal event I'd choose a more classical colour, such as royal blue, burgundy, grey, black or cream over a more way out colour such as lime green, bright red or acid yellow (even though my personal preference leans towards the latter colours!).

Age appropriate long dresses


Most evening wear has us exposing our upper arms, shoulders and décolletage. If any of these are areas you would rather cover, then wear an evening jacket, shrug or wrap over your dress.

Ensure a smooth silhouette by choosing appropriate underwear and, of course, make sure your outfit skims your body, rather than hugs it, to create the most flattering silhouette.

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