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definition of formal wear for women


mumom95

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Ok, first let me say that I am not by any means a fashion expert. I'm a stay at home mom who lives in jeans or shorts, depending on the weather. But let me also say that I'm a responsible adult and when I go places I adhere to the dress code. I don't want to start a fight in this thread, I am just interested in finding out what is the definition of formal wear for women. There was a thread on here quite a while back about the definition of formal wear for men, but in my opinion that is easier to answer than it is for women. I posted a dress a few days ago asking people's opinion, and I got a lot of "Well, it isn't formal, but it will do" kind of answers. I'm guessing they said it wasn't formal because it isn't long. It is version of the LBD, it is beaded on top, not just a plain dress. So I did a google search for the definition, and what I came up with is that formal wear for woman is considered either a long dress, dressy two piece, or a coctail dress (which I am assuming means fancy, shorter dress). Formal for women is the same as black tie. According to what I read, white tie means long dress, but that is not what is considered formal wear, that is considered ultra formal wear (not my words, got it off the description). Anyway, so after this long explanation, I am basically asking why the dress I picked a lot of people said isn't considered formal. I thought it was a coctail dress (maybe I'm wrong on that, like I said I'm no expert), and according to the definition of formal attire, a coctail dress is formal attire for women. Just interested in what people's definition is, and where they came up with that definition. Like I stated earlier, I don't want this to get into what is ok and not to wear on formal night, I just want to know where people get their definition of formal. Here is the dress I was talking about:

 

2104_65071_mm.jpg?wid=230&hei=331&qlt=95&op_sharpen=1

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mumom95,

 

Not sure what you put in for your search, but when I searched for etiquette of formal attire, below was what I found for women:

 

"Women:

Women should wear formal gowns which extend to the floor. Slits are fine, but insure that they do not extend to a point where they become too revealing. Gloves are optional.

 

The dress is lovely, and if you are comfortable wearing it, do so. I feel the dress is semi-formal, not formal.:rolleyes:

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Mumom, let me start off by saying the dress is lovely and will be perfect for formal night. I wore one very similar to that last year on my cruise. This year I did get a long dress, very elegant, got it at a great price. I still prefer the little black cocktail dress (much more comfortable.) Crusing is starting to get away from the ball gown look (much to many cruiser's dismay.) If you take a general overview on formal night you will find a whole list of totally different versions of "formal". Please stop torchering yourself, you'll be just fine! I personally was having too much fun to look and see exactly what everyone was wearing. Don't let the fashion police intimidate you!!;)

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Hello Mumom95,

Please note that what I will express is only my personnal opinion and I'm a no fashion expert.

I tried to figure why I do not consider this dress as ''formal attire'' and

I think its the short-not-so-short sleeves that make me think this dress is not what I consider a formal night cocktail dress. I tried to imagine the same dress with shorter sleeves or spaghetti straps (even longer sleeves) and then, for me, it would be perfect cocktail dress for formal night. The sleeves make me think of this dress as a dress I would wear for an outdoor wedding or at christmas (we don't go formal, most men don't wear jackets, only nice pants and nice shirt, women go from nice-casual to informal outfits).

I like your dress and while I mentionned on your previous thread that it is not a formal dress, it was only to let you know that many women may go for a dressier outfit and I don't want you to feel underdress if you thought you had a perfect formal dress. If you want to wear this dress, you won't ruin other people vacation you know and if you like your dress, it's alright.

JP

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The dress, although very attractive, is not formal wear.....it's more like garden party afternoon attire, or one that you would wear to dinner in a fine restaurant, so consider it for one of the nights that is not formal.....it would be perfect.

 

Have a great cruise!

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agabbymama: I did a google search for definition of formal wear for women. This is what I got:

 

 

Black Tie means formal. Men wear tuxedos, women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.

White Tie means ultra-formal. Men wear full dress, with white tie, vest, shirt. Women wear long gowns.

Formal usually means the same as Black Tie, but in some trendier cities like New York or Los Angeles, it could mean a black shirt, no tie with a tux. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates. Ultra-formal means White Tie. Men wear full dress, with white tie, vest, shirt. Women wear long gowns.

 

So, according to this, Ultra-formal or White Tie mean long dresses, but short dresses are ok for formal wear

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JolieMadam: so you are saying I shouldn't wear this for formal night, do I understand. May I ask your definition of formal attire/ coctail attire (Princess states coctail dresses are fine for formal night) and where you get your definition for formal wear for women.

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I think that its hard to get a unanimous answer here since there are women of different ages, lifestyles, backgrounds, etc and even depending on where you live can affect your opinions of a dress. I think from reading your other posts, the majority feel the dress is a good pick for formal night. That would be my opinion.

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I also googled formal attire and found the same site that Agabbymama found. In addition this link spells it out even further:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_wear

 

Read particularly the section on "cocktail dresses." So it would seem your dress is perfectly appropriate formal wear. I think many years ago it would not have been, but fashion changes, some of the old rules have become a little outdated, and now that dress is fine for the occasion.

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Ok, first let me say that I am not by any means a fashion expert. I'm a stay at home mom who lives in jeans or shorts, depending on the weather. But let me also say that I'm a responsible adult and when I go places I adhere to the dress code. I don't want to start a fight in this thread, I am just interested in finding out what is the definition of formal wear for women. There was a thread on here quite a while back about the definition of formal wear for men, but in my opinion that is easier to answer than it is for women. I posted a dress a few days ago asking people's opinion, and I got a lot of "Well, it isn't formal, but it will do" kind of answers. I'm guessing they said it wasn't formal because it isn't long. It is version of the LBD, it is beaded on top, not just a plain dress. So I did a google search for the definition, and what I came up with is that formal wear for woman is considered either a long dress, dressy two piece, or a coctail dress (which I am assuming means fancy, shorter dress). Formal for women is the same as black tie. According to what I read, white tie means long dress, but that is not what is considered formal wear, that is considered ultra formal wear (not my words, got it off the description). Anyway, so after this long explanation, I am basically asking why the dress I picked a lot of people said isn't considered formal. I thought it was a coctail dress (maybe I'm wrong on that, like I said I'm no expert), and according to the definition of formal attire, a coctail dress is formal attire for women. Just interested in what people's definition is, and where they came up with that definition. Like I stated earlier, I don't want this to get into what is ok and not to wear on formal night, I just want to know where people get their definition of formal. Here is the dress I was talking about:

 

2104_65071_mm.jpg?wid=230&hei=331&qlt=95&op_sharpen=1

 

goto the website of the cruiseline you are cruising on. It will be there.

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Very attractive dress for an afternoon tea dance or for evening out at a good restaurant. Not even close to formal.

 

but by definition of formal night for most of the mainstrean lines-the dress will work-women were dressed in very similiar things on my Celelbrity and HAL cruises on formal night-informal or semi formal night I saw very little differance.

 

to the OP which line are you going on?

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Mum ~~~ I think the dress is adorable and will look fine on formal night. Every woman DOES NOT wear long gowns in the dining room. Every man does not wear a tux. I am shocked at how many threads are dedicated to this subject and how heated it all becomes. Why is everyone focused on how someone else dresses? When I go to the dining room I am focused on my family and my meal and how wonderful a time my family and I are having!! I do not judge people by how they are dressed. I might judge them how they act and conduct themselves though. I haven't figured out why some people want to spend any time before or during a cruise telling a stranger how to and more horrifying, how NOT TO dress. I cannot understand for the life of me how this affects their good time.

 

On formal night, my husband will make my heart beat a little faster in his suit and tie. I know he will be winking at me and telling me how much he loves me, dressed in my "cocktail dress". And after dinner, we will do as always, change into some casual clothes and have an activity-packed evening!! So Mum, wear that perfect black dress in good heath and have a wonderful time in it!!

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but by definition of formal night for most of the mainstrean lines-the dress will work-women were dressed in very similiar things on my Celelbrity and HAL cruises on formal night-informal or semi formal night I saw very little differance.

 

to the OP which line are you going on?

 

From what I have observed of late anything short of PJ's and a bathrobe will make it on any night on most cruise lines. But that was not what the poster asked. Sure it is fine for cruise ships but cruise ships certainly do not define formal these days.

 

Years ago formal was long gown and informal was the tux in the evening and during the day a morning coat and striped pants for the men and always a dress for the ladies. Even the female help would never think of wearing pants but those days have been sent to the dust bin of society and we are left with many constantly trying to push the envelope of sloppiness.

 

Not that the dress in question is at all sloppy. In fact if everyone wore a dress as nice as that on all nights on a cruise I think it would be exceptional. So go buy one in every color and jazz up the place.

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On formal night, my husband will make my heart beat a little faster in his suit and tie. I know he will be winking at me and telling me how much he loves me, dressed in my "cocktail dress". And after dinner, we will do as always, change into some casual clothes and have an activity-packed evening!! So Mum, wear that perfect black dress in good heath and have a wonderful time in it!!

 

Gee, A year ago on these threads it was "mt husband willl make my heart beat a little faster in his tuxedo. I know he will be winking at me and telling me how much he loves me, dressed in my gown. Now we are down to suit and tie and "coctail dress"

 

Let's see if this time next year we don't see someone post how their heart flutters when their husband takes off the baseball cap and tucks in his shirt before heading off to dinner. And how he is turned on by his wife's wearing a clean set of sweats.

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mumom95,

 

 

The dress is lovely, and if you are comfortable wearing it, do so. I feel the dress is semi-formal, not formal.:rolleyes:

 

I agree. To me, the dress is semi-formal and formal (be it white or black tie) is generally a long dress.

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Tum ~~~ Wow!! I wish every woman who does not wear a ball gown and every man who does not wear a tux on formal night could see your post....Imagine, comparing men's suits and ties to un tucked shirts and baseball caps and woman's cocktail dresses to sweats. I am amazed how insulting that this is all those people. I have to say it again.....WOW!

 

Mum ~~ That black dress does not look like sweats, and I can't imagine anyone comparing it to those. Far from it!! I still think it is lovely!!

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Tum ~~~ Wow!! I wish every woman who does not wear a ball gown and every man who does not wear a tux on formal night could see your post....Imagine, comparing men's suits and ties to un tucked shirts and baseball caps and woman's cocktail dresses to sweats. I am amazed how insulting that this is all those people. I have to say it again.....WOW!

 

quote]

 

Grab hold of reality and go back and reread the post. I was not comparing anyone of the three levels of dress mentioned in the post. What I was pointing out was how in a year we had drifted from comments on wearing tuxedos and gowns to now business suits and dresses and how maybe a year from now we willhave gone down another notch to what was mentioned.

 

And for heaven sake, relax. Those of us who take offense with sloppy dress have enough manners to do our judging in silence or on these boards where free speech is still tolerated to some degree,but judge we will. So if you are lazy, or do not know any better rest assured that on every ship on every cruise there will be those who find your attire offensive and will in silence make a judgement. If that makes you uncomfortable, so be it. I for one have no plans to cave in to the "let's not judge and can't we all get along" crowd. How about those folks making an effort to do better rather than expecting the rest of us to allow such poor behavior.

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Oh, I take no offensive. (Mum, I hope you don't either.) And I am not the least bit uncomfortable. Because Mum's cocktail dress, and anyone else who wears something other than a long gown on formal night, know they are not dressed slobby, and certainly will not be judged by anyone that would make them feel uncomfortable. And in just viewing all your previous posts on so many other threads pertaining to formal nights, I understand that this is a problem for you and you like to express it. I just wanted to make Mum feel comfortable and happy in her lovely dress. Thats all. You can go do your "thing" now.

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On my first cruise 4 years ago on RCI's Explorer, I wore a below-the-knee length strapless black dress with turquoise beading, my daughter had on a turquoise gown, my husband and son were in suits and we were the family that was on the cruise video meeting the captain!! I must admit though for my cruise that leaves on Sat., I have a floor length black dress.

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agabbymama: I did a google search for definition of formal wear for women. This is what I got:

 

 

Black Tie means formal. Men wear tuxedos, women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.

White Tie means ultra-formal. Men wear full dress, with white tie, vest, shirt. Women wear long gowns.

Formal usually means the same as Black Tie, but in some trendier cities like New York or Los Angeles, it could mean a black shirt, no tie with a tux. Women wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates. Ultra-formal means White Tie. Men wear full dress, with white tie, vest, shirt. Women wear long gowns.

 

So, according to this, Ultra-formal or White Tie mean long dresses, but short dresses are ok for formal wear

0

 

The above is incorrect. Etiquette dictates the same rules now that existed 50 years ago.

 

White Tie: Appropriate for state dinners, innaugerations, debutante balls, etc.

 

Men: White tie and tails

Women: Ball gown (which is much more formal than a regular gown) with white kidskin elbow length gloves.

 

Formal: Appropriate for parties, dinners, weddings, etc.

 

Men: Tuxedo or dinner jacket with tuxedo pants.

Women: Full length gown.

 

Semi Formal: Cocktail receptions, dinners, parties, weddings.

 

Men: Tuxedo or dinner jacket with tuxedo pants or dark suit and tie.

Women; Full length gown, pants in a formal fabric (silk, satin, chiffon, sequins) with appropriate top, cocktail dress.

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0

 

The above is incorrect. Etiquette dictates the same rules now that existed 50 years ago.

 

White Tie: Appropriate for state dinners, innaugerations, debutante balls, etc.

 

Men: White tie and tails

Women: Ball gown (which is much more formal than a regular gown) with white kidskin elbow length gloves.

 

Formal: Appropriate for parties, dinners, weddings, etc.

 

Men: Tuxedo or dinner jacket with tuxedo pants.

Women: Full length gown.

 

Semi Formal: Cocktail receptions, dinners, parties, weddings.

 

Men: Tuxedo or dinner jacket with tuxedo pants or dark suit and tie.

Women; Full length gown, pants in a formal fabric (silk, satin, chiffon, sequins) with appropriate top, cocktail dress.

 

Now you've gone and done it. How can we go from this definition to the next tier which is informal and not require a jacket and tie for the men and still a dress for the ladies and then Resort casual - Jacket without a tie and a paliner dress fro the ladies.

 

What will we call the general attire for the masses that are cruising these days? certainly not any of the above. So we now need a new disignation.

 

Any ideas?

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I can't believe I'm compelled to continue to contribute to this thread, but somehow I can't give it up. I'm not sure where some of the other posters got their info, but I did another search for formal wear etiquette. The following is a link to the Emily Post site. It was a little too long to copy, but it definitely says that a short cocktail dress is appropriate for a formal occasion. Go to the following link:

 

http://www.emilypost.com/etiquette/special/attire.htm

 

There are many other "etiquette" links that say the same thing.

 

For the record, I wear long dresses to formal night because that is my preference. However, I see others in short dresses and in no way feel they are underdressed. I have a bit of a problem with people who come dressed in a sloppy manner just because I feel they are just trying to buck the rules. Otherwise, I couldn't care less what others wear. It does bother me that some people set themselves up as fashion police when in fact formal wear means many different things to many different people and is still correct according to etiquette.

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Ok, I never meant to start an argument in my thread. And actually, this thread was started because I wanted to know where the people that have such opinions on what is acceptable as formal got their definitions of formal. I know my dress will be fine, and I am very much looking forward to formal evening. Oh and for those people asking, I'll be sailing with Princess. And I do appreciate all the feedback I got on my original thread about the dress, I felt people were being honest in a nice way.

 

The point I wanted to make with this post is that some people think formal means something specific, when in actuallity(?sp) it is only their opinion. And that is fine to have that opinion, but they need to stop passing it off as if it is fact, and say something like "I don't think it is formal enough" rather than "it is not formal". News flash to everyone, formal does not mean the same thing it did 50 years ago, and there is nothing wrong with that. Things change in life, and fashion by all means is one of the biggest changers of all. Now, do not get me wrong, I am not trying to say jeans are formal today or anything like that. And I'm also not trying to say that there isn't a definition for formal, obviously there is more than one definition, because different people have googled it and found different definitions. (btw, here is the link to the site I got my info off of incase some people thought I was making it up http://fashion.about.com/cs/glossary/a/partydefinition.htm ) I also looked it up in my Amy Venderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette and here is what it says: "Formal: In some conservative parts of the country "Formal" on an invitation may still mean a floor-length dress for women. But in most regioins it now means a dress or attractive evening suit of any length or style. Tuxedo pants, fancy culottes, or pajama-style trousers are also acceptable in most sophisticated settings."

 

I guess in a lot of ways I started this post to make a point, and I'm not sure if I accomplished that or not. And it probably doesn't matter, because no matter what one person says, another person probably isn't going to change their mind. My point was: there are many styles of formal, what is important is that people do the best they can to make themselves look the best they can. So anyway, I am going to end my posting with some ranting and raving and some points I want to make:

 

First of all, to the people that wear jeans in the dining room, especially on formal night, come on, you know the rules, you know jeans aren't allowed, and it isn't nice to a host to purposely disobey them.

 

And to the people who say the people wearing jeans ruins your cruise, well good, if you are so snobby that you are going to let what someone else is wearing ruin your time, you deserve to have it ruined. ( I know that was mean, but I just felt like I had to say it)

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Wow, this is really on the verge of getting out of control.

To the OP.......wear what you want. I'm stressing about dresses now, and I'm more than 800+ days out. It's not a pagent, it's a cruise.....that you're paying alot of money for. If you want to go all out, do it. It's one thing to try and push the envelope and wear denim, or short's to dinner, but as long as you feel dressed up (thing, evening wedding, or Christmas party), whatever you wear will look beautiful for you. Some people like to dress up, some don't. Conforming is a bad word. Do what makes you comfortable.

I, myself will get the dresses, I most like......for me, I'm still trying to figure out what the difference between casual and smart casual :rolleyes:

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