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How To Select a

Formal Dress



y definition formal wear is what is worn to special events such as weddings or black tie affairs, suitable for formal occasions. Today our way of life has become more

casual and very few people can reach into their closets and pull out the perfect black tie ensemble. Our relaxed way of life has lessened the need for formal wear and some may choose to get married barefoot at the beach or go to a formal function in casual clothing. The rest of us still want to dress in formal attire when the occasion calls for it. It is that special occasion such as a wedding, prom, or cruise that requires us to have formal attire. When the time comes to purchase formal wear we are unprepared. Our budget, body type, or event may make us feel restricted. These restrictions make it difficult to enjoy shopping for our special day. I view these so called restrictions as positive because they narrow our choices for us. If there was no budget, you had a perfect body, and great sense of style you may have too many choices.

Regardless of your budget there is a dress for you. From the young teen who will buy their first formal dress with their saved allowance to the bride whose parents will spare no expense to give their daughter the fairy tale wedding she dreams about. The key is to realize what your budget is before you head out to shop so you will not be frustrated. Lowest End - Borrow from a friend or family member Low End - Purchase from a consignment store, thrift shop, or garage sale Middle - Find your garment from the sale rack High End - Have a personal shopper assist you in a upscale boutique Highest End - One of a kind custom made garment A great sense of style does not have to be cost prohibitive and it can be developed. The key is to make something look high end by the way you coordinate and accessorize it. Not knowing what you like isn’t necessarily a lack of personal style. If you are accustomed to living in jeans and a simple t-shirt, that is your personal style. If you have worn a uniform to work for years you may not have ever needed formal wear. Spend time looking at catalogues and window shopping first before you attempt to make a purchase. Not knowing the style, color or price range of your garment is like a kid in a candy store, everything will look good and at the same time you will not be able to make a decision. If you add that you may be in a time crunch the stress level grows. Knowing your body type and what looks best on you will help facilitate your choices. This may be difficult specially if they have gained or lost weight. In my book; Modeling at Any Age, I wrote: “Department stores and specialty shops have sales personnel who can answer any questions about proper fit and will put together a great looking outfit.” The proper guidance given by someone knowledgeable in the industry will make shopping such a pleasure that it may actually be a fun experience. 34 | VM Fall Fashion 2012

Events can simplify your choices by dictating the type of garment needed. For a black tie affair the look is formal and elegant. Black is certainly appropriate but other colors and luxurious fabrics such as silk, silk organza or velvet will fit in as well. The proper garment will make you stand out and be remembered. Men also have a need for formal attire not just for weddings but for business and charity events as well as award ceremonies. This includes everything from the tux, vest, dress shirt, and even shoes and socks. In many cases, a tuxedo rental store is the answer, but for the man who often attends formal events, purchasing his own tux might be more economical.    My advice to anyone shopping for that perfect formal garment is to take their time and do not purchase the first thing you see. Try several items on and even go to different stores before you decide. Having a well fitting garment in your favorite color will help you focus on the event rather than an ill fitting garment that is not “you” and one that was not within your budget. Halina Minkowicz-Ilendo & Monika Ilendo, owners of OM Fashions have many years experience fitting their customers and helping them find just the right dress for their events; this is their advice: When helping a customer, we ask them about their budget, event, size, and detail.


To help someone find their dream dress and make a sale, we must know one of many things, their budget. Weather its one hundred dollars or less or 100 dollars and up, we have a dress for everyone. We want a person to be comfortable with the amount they are spending along with how they look and feel in the garment.


In order for a customer to buy a proper garment for their special day, we must know what event it is. For example, if it was a mother of the bride looking for a dress, we would strongly recommend a long elegant evening dress, no matter the venue. If a young girl is looking for a homecoming dress she will most likely look for a short, evening dress. In our opinion knowing what event the customer is attending is as important as knowing what size they are.


This is most important detail in helping a customer. We have 12 years experience in the business; we know most people’s sizes from the moment they step through our door. Even though our guesses may be correct the size a person buys also depends on the style and gown they have chosen. Most companies cut their sizes smaller. For example a women who is usually or in every day clothes a size 14, might need a size 16 or 18 in evening clothes.


From color to the person themselves, detail means a lot. Every person has a different shape. Some may have to trim the hem or tighten the straps of their dress. When a woman comes in to look for bridesmaid dresses for example, she might have the color(s) picked out already. When a girl comes in for a prom dress, she might not. All of this is something that may seem of little importance but in reality is very important.

Ro Martinez, model, actress, author, and modeling coach has been in the business for over 25 years. Ro holds modeling and acting workshops focusing on people of all ages, sizes, and ethnic groups, and guides them toward successfully entering the exciting and glamorous field of modeling. Her book Modeling At Any Age is a step-by-step, comprehensive, easy-to-read guide that can be followed by anyone and is sure to give an edge to those ready to enter into the exciting field of modeling. For information on becoming a model or actress, visit or email Ro at

Fall Fashion 2012 VM | 35

VM Fall Issue 2012  
VM Fall Issue 2012  

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