The initial panic
The invitation arrived just as I had been expecting. I had been warned “black tie optional” would be the dress code. For a man, that’s so easy but for a woman knowing what to wear to a black tie gala equals, for me, excitement and panic!
A large part of me squealed with happiness at the chance to dress up, while the other part panicked. How dressy would everyone get? I don’t want to overdress, but I don’t want to underdress either! This was a Gala for a group of people I didn’t know which makes the anxiety higher. Do they intend to really do black tie, or no? I almost wished I could FaceTime all of the girls to see what they would be wearing!
I’ve owned two black tie dresses in my life. The first one I owned was pre-children. That stopped fitting after the boys were born and I had sold it at a consignment store years ago.
So, I got to go shopping! Because this was my husband’s friends event he was all on board with me dressing nicely.
When deciding what to wear for a black tie gala, I have a few important rules. The same is true when shopping for bathing suits or jeans (horror of all horrors):
- Shop only when you’re in a good mood and happy with how you look. If you’re never happy, then down a bottle of champagne and go anyway.
- Shop when you’re not on the clock – you positively can’t rush this. It takes too long to try these dresses on. And chances are you’ll own this for years and have pictures taken in it. It’s likely to cost so much money so be sure to be in the mood to spend time. Plus! It should be fun, so you should relax and enjoy it!
- Go shopping when you’re hair and make-up look nice. I’ve made this mistake many times before. No bueno.
I chose this gorgeous Carmen Marc Valvo gown because from the very second I put it on I felt like the most elegant version of myself. The other dresses I tried on had me squirming, fidgeting and feeling like I was forcing something I wasn’t. The off the shoulder part of this slipped right over my shoulders, didn’t move and I want to twirl, girl, twirl!!!!! I knew within three seconds this was my gown!
What to wear to a black tie gala
I kept the jewelry simple wearing earrings my husband gifted me when our sons were born. I’m sharing some of our photos we had taken and ideas of how to recreate the look.