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Top tips to add personal zing to your black-tie style
Image / Style / Fashion

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Top tips to add personal zing to your black-tie style


by IMAGE
12th Apr 2023

Ahead of the 15th annual IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards, we ask House of Colour image consultant Maria Macklin for her top tips on bringing added zing to your black-tie style in a way that expresses who you are.

Occasion dressing offers a diverse reflection of not the trends but also the wearer’s personality. It’s the spell of allure and beauty turned up full notch. Whether you’re nominated for an IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year award or supporting the nominees, you’ll be more comfortable in a style that not only suits your body architecture, but also reflects your personality. The dress code for the awards is black tie, but what does that mean exactly?

Black tie is one step down from society’s most formal dress code (white-tie, in case you need to know). It’s easier for men, indicating that they should opt for a classic dinner jacket (usually dark). For women, it’s not so straightforward and can be interpreted much more broadly. Generally, the vibe you want to aim for is ‘evening-appropriate with a touch of opulence’. How extravagantly you dress will depend on your personality and the statement you want to make. 

My first piece of advice is to stay away from anything resembling day-wear, but, don’t feel bound by tradition. A jumpsuit or a chic tuxedo can work well. A co-ord of separates is also an option, particularly for those who are post-partum. What we call the ‘communication zone’ or ‘cameo area’ is from the chest up. This is the area that is noticed first and is a great place to add the details, from sparkle to colour to statement jewellery. 

A black-tie event is an opportunity to try different styles and shapes that you might not typically wear. This season is all about sheer fabrics, cut-out details and hyper texture like feathers, sequins and fringe. Ensure that added details are enhancing who you are and are in a place that makes you feel comfortable. Embracing bold colours, cut-outs and unique textures is a great way to keep your look fresh. 

Embrace the maxi

How often do you get the chance to go all out? Wearing a full-length evening gown adds to the sense of occasion. Ensure your outfit is tailored to your body shape so you are most comfortable and can enjoy looking your very best. 

The running order

Not all black-tie events are equal. The IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards involves a sit-down dinner so it is important to take this into consideration. It’s hard to enjoy any occasion when you’re not comfortable. Fidgeting and fighting with your clothes can take the glamour away and will distract you, so wear your outfit somewhere else first, even at home! This will help you to know if you can move in it, sit in it and dance in it.

You don’t have to stick to black

With dopamine dressing continuing its reign on the runways and the return of jaw-dropping red-carpet looks, extravagant dress is well and truly back. While we’ll always see black and white on the red carpet, this season we’ve also seen ruling reds, sunshine yellows, popping pinks and powerful purples. It’s my belief that you were born to stand out – not to blend in. The rainbow is your oyster, so go for it! If you decide to wear neutral colours, add a pop of colour in shoes, accessories or bag. 

Best foot forward

Footwear punctuates your outfit. Even when your dress skims the floor, don’t allow your footwear to fall by the wayside. Wear shoes that you find comfortable and never wear them for the first time to an event where you might be standing around for hours or will be walking and dancing. There is so much to choose from. If you are more comfortable in flats, find some that are fun, colourful or sparkly to give your footwear a voice. 

Be prepared

Nailing the black-tie dress code generally requires some preparation. Whether you’re renting, borrowing or buying, you should always try on your outfit to ensure it fits. Or order online well in advance so you can try it on at home. Give yourself enough time (and budget) for tailoring adjustments if needed.

Accessories and outerwear

This is the place to get the balance right. When your outfit or dress is heavily embellished, then perhaps keep your jewellery and shoes more low-key. When your outfit is plainer, use your accessories to make a statement, keeping the scale in line with your physicality. Your skin tone determines whether you look richer in a cool white metal or a warm yellow metal. Mixing fresh dynamic colours with stunning jewellery can redefine an otherwise simple and chic outfit. Choose a bag which not only adds to your outfit, but can hold your phone and make-up necessities. 

It would be a terrible shame to distract from your fabulous outfit by wearing a low-key trench or puffer coat. Consider investing in a faux fur or luxurious coat or jacket which you can re-wear again and again. 

Once you have all that sorted, you’ll be ready to enjoy your evening!

Image consultant Maria Macklin

Maria Macklin is an award-winning image consultant with House of Colour and an IMAGE Business Club member. She assists people in visually expressing who they are so they are seen, heard and valued. In Maria’s words, ‘the crux of an authentic image comes with knowing who you are so you can express and communicate it consistently on every channel, every day, in every situation’. Maria can be found on Instagram and Facebook @UnlockingYourStyle.

Feature photograph: Cara Delevingne at the Oscars / Instagram

Final Tickets Available

The shortlist for the 2023 IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards can be viewed here and we will announce the winners on the evening of April 14th, alongside the presentation of the overall IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year and the very special Lifetime Achievement Award winner Mary Robinson.

If you would like to join us, there are limited tickets still available below, or email our events team at [email protected].