What Is Semi-Formal?
The difficulty with dressing semi-formal for men and women is that it’s one of the more ambiguous categories. It sits between casual and formal on the dress code spectrum, so you already know that it’s slightly more laidback than an evening gown but definitely dressier than jeans and a shirt. But that covers a wide range of things, so let’s break it down even more.
Your goal should be to look polished, dressy yet not too over-the-top. Compared to formal events which may require floor-length gowns, a short knee-length number is more appropriate for semi-formal occasions. You can also wear a tailored pantsuit, jumpsuit, or two-piece dress.
The material and style of your clothes is also a factor. So you can wear floor-length dresses, as long as you balance it out with a more casual print or fabric and the right accessories.
What Events Normally Have A Semi-Formal Dress Code?
There are many occasions which may call for a semi-formal ensemble, like:
- Day weddings
- Holiday gatherings
- Cocktail parties
- Fancy dinners
- School dances
- Award ceremonies
- Funerals and memorials
- Theatrical shows and other performances
Most events where you can wear semi-formal dresses are the same events that you can wear formal or casual outfits too. So if you don’t receive an invite with a specified semi-formal dress code, simply ask! Ask the host or other people attending the same event what they’re wearing, and allow that to guide your own outfit choices.
The Best Semi-Formal Dresses In Australia: Shoppers’ Guide
10. Sacha Drake Fit & Flare Belted Dress
Store: Birdsnest Online
This beautiful, understated dress by Sacha Drake is something you can take from day to night. Simply dress it up with a pair of smart heels, a clutch, and some statement jewellery and voila! An easy, chic semi-formal outfit.
9. Tara Lace Dress
Store: Miss Runway Boutique
Don’t let the cheap price tag fool you! This white lace dress is a gorgeous addition to your wardrobe. Take it to the races, a dinner party, or pretty much anywhere else. Except for a wedding, of course – get Tara in another colour for that.
8. Two Princes Draped Maxi Dress
Store: Sass & Bide
Sass & Bide somehow designed a modest long-sleeve dress that’s both sexy and sophisticated. If you want to add a personal touch to this black canvas, style it with a unique belt and accessories.
7. Lorena Midi Dress
Store: Misha Australia
The Lorena is a great choice for most events, from weddings to cocktails to dinners. It definitely has an unusual and chunky silhouette, but the low back, side slit, and lightweight fabric keep it from feeling bulky.
6. Fallen Shoulder Prom Dress
Bigger beauties will love ASOS’ plus size line. This nude off-the-shoulder dress is particularly flattering, no matter what your body type. Plus, you can wear it to all sorts of events – not just prom.
5. White Ruffle Detail Plunge Midi Dress
Store: Pretty Little Thing
Sassy, provocative, and super flashy, Pretty Little Thing never disappoints. Just be wary about the plunging V, as it may not be appropriate for every occasion.
4. Could Shoulder Flutter Dress
Store: Fame and Partners
Semi-formal doesn’t always have to be serious! This Fame and Partners dress is proof that you can still keep it fun and flirty without sacrificing on style.
3. Nathalie Midi Dress
Store: Bec + Bridge
The fabric on this Bec + Bridge piece is unusual, but the ramie-cotton blend means great breathability and movement. And how could we not fall in love with the Nathalie’s simple lines and cute button accents?
2. Chancery Caitlyn Midi Dress
Store: The Iconic
If you want a classic and elegant semi-formal dress, this is definitely it. It doesn’t push any boundaries, but it’s cute, reliable, and timeless.
1. Rosetta Lace Fit N Flare
Store: White Runway
The delicate embroidery on White Runway’s Rosetta makes it a great candidate for everything from afternoon celebrations to posh evening gatherings.
Semi-formal is the most confusing out of all of the dress code categories, but hopefully this guide helped to demystify it! And in fact, most dresses can be styled to be semi-formal, as long as you have the right shoes and accessories.