What to Wear to a Semi-Formal Event this Fall

What to Wear to a Semi-Formal Event this Fall, Tobi Midi Dress

This fall is surprisingly void of weddings for me. Typically, I have at least 2-3 weddings a season… but, somehow, this fall, I have 0 (thank you to all of my friends who are doing long engagements!). However, I do still have a few semi-formal events coming up (i.e. galas and the opera) which require me to know how to ace that in-between-cocktail-attire-and-black-tie look aka figure out what to wear to a semi-formal event.

What I love about semi-formal events is that just about anything goes. Semi-formal is basically the dressier side of cocktail attire until you hit the more casual side of black tie. Long or short, it doesn’t matter. So you can have a lot more fun with your looks.

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Gold Sparkly Hoops, Pink Semi-Formal Dress
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What I’m Wearing:

Dress: Tobi, c/o (similar) / Clutch: BP. / Shoes: LC Lauren Conrad (similar, similar)
Earrings: BaubleBar / Rings: BaubleBar

Truth be told, probably 80% of my cocktail dresses are more semi-formal than cocktail. Take this dress, this dress, and this dress for instance. For me, figuring out what to wear to a semi-formal event is more which-option-do-I-pick and less oh-eff-I-have-nothing-to-wear.

The latter is more me on a daily basis when trying to dress for class.

But honestly: I naturally overdress for just about everything in life and I always have. I spent an entire year of my life wearing only Disney princess dresses… and I mean the full gowns, not their casual wear. I’ve owned gowns and cocktail dresses for as long as I can remember. And I recall throwing more than one toddler-sized-tantrum as a kid when my mom told me I was way overdressed.

Even now, I have trouble reining it in. For me, “casual” means dressy casual (and sometimes even cocktail attire). “Cocktail attire” means semi-formal. And “black tie” means I wear a gown with so much volume I can’t fit through a damn door (like this one).

#goals, I know.

But semi-formal attire calls for something a bit more… muted. The ability to fit through a door is valued. Short, long, or midi-length – it doesn’t matter. Sparkles or sans-sparkles. When determining what to wear to a semi-formal event (especially one coming up this fall!), focus on what fits you, your body, and your personality the best. Just in case, I put some tips below.

My Tips on What to Wear to a Semi-Formal Event this Fall
  • Wear what makes you happy. It doesn’t matter if it’s more cocktail attire than semi-formal… or if it’s closer to being black-tie than semi-formal. If it makes you happy, wear it.
  • If you wear a long dress, wear more casual accessories to dress it down a bit. My favorite trick is pairing my gown with a cardigan (perfect for chilly theaters too!). I also recommend the “barely-there” look for makeup when trying to dress down a gown. PS I love this dress and this dress if you want to go long.
  • If you decide to go short / more cocktail attire (like this dress), dress the outfit up with your accessories. AKA the opposite of the trick above. Add some statement jewelry (I like this necklace and these earrings!), killer heels, and the smoky eye + cat eye + your favorite lipstick combo to complete your look.
  • You can never go wrong with a “naked shoe” and some statement jewels.
  • Still at a loss as to what to wear to a semi-formal event this fall? This dress, this dress, this dress, this skirt + top combo, this dress, and this dress would all be perfect for any upcoming semi-formal event!
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