Professional dress for an early evening "Gala"
May 29, 2014 11:38 AM Subscribe
I've been invited to attend an anniversary dinner/fundraiser for a regional nonprofit advocacy group. I'll be attending as a guest of a work-related higher-up, and the event will doubtless involve a bunch of professional networking small talk. They're calling it a gala... but the event starts at 5:30, with dinner at 6:30. What on earth do I wear?
posted by Kpele to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a late-30s woman employed as a planner with a local government, and I've been invited to attend this event as the guest of a local elected official, along with several other people in similar positions. I've worked (as a County staff person) with this group on several projects, and I like what they do. There is a reasonable possibility that I will be starting to look for a new job in the next year-ish, so it would be smart to take advantage of networking opportunities like this.
I want to look professional and appropriately-attired for this event. People tend to assume that I'm younger than I am, and I have found that in some (but not all!) cases, going slightly more formal is one option to offset that. I'm tallish (about 5'8") and quite hourglassy, and generally wear a 12-16 in dresses (depending on hip/chest measurements-- I'm roughly 40-42" chest, 30-32" waist, 42-44" hips).
The event is next Friday evening. I could possibly buy something locally, but if I can find something in my current wardrobe that works I would prefer that. I have several vintage and/or vintage-styled cocktail dresses (some are too va-va-voom for a professional appearance), and a bunch of business-y attire separates (trending towards pencil or straight skirts that hit about knee-length) and dresses (trending wrap and shirt dresses). I have tattoos on my shoulders/upper back, so I'd lean away from strapless or a lot of exposed skin (which I'd probably do to maintain a more professional appearance anyway).
I would normally assume that "Gala" meant "gown" (which I'd have to buy)-- but given the early-evening timeframe, perhaps cocktail or business attire is more suitable? Can you help me out with general suggestions and/or some possible examples that I might either find in my closet or acquire before next Friday?
Bonus add-on question: tips for successfully not looking like an ass while trying to make professional small talk will also be gratefully accepted!