Gala: What To Wear And What To Do

“You want to look the best, but be comfortable.” – Roxanne Assoulin

A gala is typically formal. It would seem out of place to show up wearing sneakers and yoga pants. What you wear depends entirely on what type of gala it is. Some may be more casual than others, so dress accordingly. 

woman in brown long sleeve dress standing beside gray wall

However, certain tips can help no matter what you’ll be doing at your galas:

1. Do not wear white (or anything super bright). 

If you do happen to spill something, it will easily show if your outfit is too bright or distracting in any way. Instead, pick neutral colours like black, navy blue, grey or brown. This does not mean black turtlenecks and pantsuits. Dress it up with a skirt or dress and some nice shoes, but keep it classy.

2. Match Your Outfit 

Match your outfit to the formality of the gala; if you’re unsure, ask the hosts.

3. Do not wear anything too short, tight or revealing (unless that’s what’s expected… like for a themed party). 

If you’re wearing leggings as pants, they should be thicker and warmer than normal leggings; think boot-cut leg warmers; or better yet – tights! A dress that ends above the knee is perfect; flowy fabric will make you look more elegant and put together. Just make sure there isn’t any cleavage showing (or if there is, don’t bend down in it).

4. Make sure your outfit is comfortable. 

Your shoes should be the most comfortable you own, and if you’re not used to high heels, opt for a lower heel, wedges or flats instead of stilettos. If you plan on wearing a skirt, don’t wear nylons with seams; choose patterned ones instead (see below). [Don’t spend too much time worrying about how uncomfortable your outfit looks.]

5. Be mindful of what the weather will be like. 

I know this seems obvious but seriously – people get all dressed up and then wonder why they feel so uncomfortable when they get there. Some galas can take place outside even in winter! But regardless of location, keep track of what you’ll be doing at the gala. Staying home to eat? Be sure to wear cozy clothes that can sit on your bum/chin/hips/etc., since chances are high that you’ll be sitting down for some of it.

Heading somewhere more active? Remember, just because it’s chilly outside doesn’t mean you have to dress like an Eskimo! Dress warmly, but keep in mind the type of event your gala is.

6. Wear appropriate makeup. 

No one wants to see too much eyeliner or nude lips if they’re supposed to be seeing a concert or whatever else. You don’t want your makeup distracting people from what’s going on around them either.

The easiest way to make yourself look elegant? Use a shimmery lip gloss or lipstick! But please, not in a colour so bright it doesn’t look natural… which is any shade of pink or red. Golden and beige colours look great on everyone and this kind of makeup is flattering for every face shape. Your lips should always be slightly lighter than your skin tone because it makes you look more elegant (and again, less brash).

7. If you think you might end up taking pictures, remember your angles. 

You want to look your best in these images. A great pose is standing with one shoulder forward and the opposite foot pointing out behind you. Don’t slouch!

8. Let your jewellery be the statement piece of your outfit.

We all have that necklace or scarf that doesn’t go with anything else we own but wanted to bring anyways… just leave it at home; nobody needs access to five different necklaces at once (unless they’re wearing a pirate-themed party). Instead, wear minimal earrings, don’t over-accessorize (just because something goes together doesn’t mean it does), let the dress shine by itself and choose carefully when it comes to shoes.

Make sure they match your dress and try to find the least-high shoes possible. This will create a greater impact in terms of height, which is always good when you’re going to be surrounded by beautiful people with perfect posture.

Also, in terms of colour choice: it’s easier if you pick a neutral colour that can go with a lot of things (ex: black). However, if this isn’t your style or feels too dull for an occasion like this, add some pastels in there! For example, pale pink looks great on everyone – don’t hesitate to wear something you feel good about.

9. Updo or loose hair?

Another big question mark when it comes to galas that’s worth talking about – do I put my hair up or leave it down? It all depends on how formal the party itself will be. If there are tons of people you don’t know at the party, go ahead and create an updo. You’ll have something stylish to do with your hair and it will be more low-maintenance too. However, if you’re going to a friend’s house for dinner afterwards, leave your hair down! It’ll open up new opportunities for conversation and intimacy.

You can also decide on something else: if you have a great dress that’s very high-necked or has a full sleeve, don’t bother creating an updo. The dress itself will create the right effect – so just go with the flow!

10. Save the legs!

Don’t wear pantyhose even in winter – they are simply not practical in terms of warmth (unless you live in Canada). Instead, wear fishnets or stockings; they look much better than pantyhose and they might even make your legs look thinner! If you’re not wearing a short dress, this is the time to break out the leggings. In terms of shoes, wear whatever seems comfortable according to what shoes you brought – flats are fine if it’s a casual party.

11. How do I handle my bags?

Don’t carry too many bags with you because it will wreck your outfit and make it look messy. Instead, think strategically: do you need that purse or can you get by without it? If so, leave it in the car/at home because nobody needs a million things at once – unless maybe they’re going clubbing later on… but then again you don’t want to go into that kind of a party looking like a nun.

More on what to wear to a gala, check it out by clicking.