What to Wear to a Gala: Designer-Inspired Outfits

A gala offers the perfect opportunity to showcase your style while adhering to a dress code that elevates the event’s sophistication. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what to wear to a gala, navigate the various dress codes, explore outfit options, and offer styling tips to make a statement at your next gala event.

Comparing a gala party with a Hollywood-themed party, the gala is dominated by classic darker colors, featuring both earrings and silver accessories and shoes. Hollywood attire, on the other hand, is characterized by brighter colors and embellishments.

In this topic, we will focus on dresses and jumpsuits—immediately covering two out of the three main elements. The challenge lies in coordinating the remaining accessories and shoes in a way that keeps the main garment at the center of attention.

This means that we will pay more attention to the colors, patterns, and embellishments in the main garment so that we can create a balanced whole with the rest of the accessories and shoes.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the dress code of gala events for selecting an appropriate outfit.
  • Choose from floor-length gowns, cocktail dresses or jumpsuits depending on the occasion.
  • Accessorize with jewelry pieces and bags to complete your look and don’t forget outerwear for extra sophistication.

Understanding Gala Dress Codes

Gala events, such as a formal gala, are grand, sophisticated gatherings that often require a formal dress code, such as white tie, black tie, or cocktail attire. Grasping these dress codes is key to picking the right outfit and boosting your confidence in what you’re wearing at a formal event.

We’ll examine the differences among these dress codes and their impact on your gala outfit selection.

White Tie Event

White tie events demand the most formal attire, with wearing floor-length gowns. Customary accessories for these events include gloves and a tiara.

  • Basic Structure: This long gown already features a pattern and large silver/green embellishments.
  • Accessories: It is best to choose a black or silver clutch without embellishments or with delicate decorations. Both the bracelet and the necklace are unnecessary, except for delicate silver earrings with dark green stones.
  • Footwear: With a formal long gown, opt for heeled pumps to visually elongate your body.
  • Bonus: More volume is created in the lower body. Balance the upper body with a monochrome black or dark green bolero.
  1. Carolina Herrera: Cloqué Gown
  2. Manolo Blahnik: Hangisi 90s Satin Pumps
  • Basic Structure: Cobalt teal gown with sheer sleeves, embellishments, and a tulle skirt.
  • Accessories: Since the sleeves are decorated, the clutch should be without decorations. For jewelry, we chose a white gold tiara with aquamarine. We stayed in the same blue color range; our eyes understand it as a harmonious whole. Of course, you can choose gems that create a contrast to the blue dress, such as yellow, gold, or pink.
  • Shoes: Heeled pumps in silver or cobalt blue.
  1. Jenny Packham: Constantine Sequined Tulle Gown
  2. Garrard: Catherine 18-Karat White Gold Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara

Black Tie Event

Black tie events call for an elegant floor-length dress, a cocktail dress, or a jumpsuit. A black dress that combines lace styling is a suitable example of a black tie gala.

When it comes to black-tie optional galas, you can make a bold statement by wearing a brightly colored dress or accessorizing with a unique brooch.

  • Basic Structure: Dark green patterned straight silhouette gown with puffed sleeves and an accentuated waist.
  • Accessories: Since the sleeves are decorated, it is best to choose a shoulder bag. Neither a chain nor a bracelet is required. Opt for delicate jewelry and a ring that complements the buckle on the dress.
  • Shoes: Heels.
  1. Andrew Gn: Metallic Cloqué Gown
  2. David Morris: Miss Daisy 18-Karat White Gold Diamond Earrings
  • Basic Structure: Brown long gown with a large deep alabaster or bone shade pattern.
  • Accessories: A patterned clutch with a subtle design resembling the dress is recommended. Since the handbag features a large ribbon, focus on the upper part of the body with jewelry—consider earrings or decorations in the hair.
  • Footwear: Finely glittered patterned pumps in a shade similar to the dress’s pattern.
  1. Cortana: Alina Gown
  2. Loeffler Randal: Rayne Bow-Embellished Plissé-Lamé Clutch
  3. Jimmy Choo: Romy 100 Glittered Pumps
  • Basic Structure: Silver long dress with a small black pattern, featuring subtle volume creations on the arms and the bottom of the dress.
  • Accessories: We added a definition at the waist with an embellished belt.
  • Shoes: Black satin mules with a subtle silver embellishment.
  1. Talbot Runhof: Gathered Metallic Stretch-Jersey Gown
  2. Alessandra Rich: Silver-Tone Crystal Belt
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Bambimu 70 Satin Mules

Cocktail Attire

When it comes to cocktail attire, you have a wider range of options. You can opt for knee-length or midi-length dresses. Choosing a dress in a neutral color palette would be an apt choice for a cocktail dress style.

  • Basic Structure: Dark purple satin one-shoulder cocktail dress with a gathered waist.
  • Accessories: Opt for a classic color combination with a golden clutch and earrings.
  • Footwear: Choose heeled golden or dark purple pumps or mules.
  1. Solace London: Orla Burgundy Satin-Twill Midi Dress
  2. David Yurman: Carlyle 18-Karat Gold Diamond Earrings
  3. Manolo Blahnik: Capri Long Crystal-Embellished Metallic Leather Clutch

Basic Structure: Dark blue satin metallic gathered cocktail dress.

Accessories: Wear a watch with a dark blue leather strap and silver accessories. Clutches and shoulder bags are suitable for sleeveless dresses.

Shoes: Opt for silver pumps with fine glitter.

  1. Costarellos: Mireille Gown
  2. Cartier: Coussin de Cartier 30 Watch
  3. The Attico: Long Night Satin Silver Clutch
  4. Christian Louboutin: Kate 85 Glittered Leather Pumps
  • Basic Structure: Silver dress with gatherings.
  • Accessories: Pair with golden accessories. Bangles work well with sleeveless dresses.
  • Footwear: Opt for heeled pumps or mules.
  1. Partow: Gia Wrap-Effect Midi Dress
  2. Manolo Blahnik: Capri Long Crystal-Embellished Metallic Leather Clutch
  3. Gianvito Rossi: Gianvito Starlight 105 Glittered Pumps

Choosing the Perfect Gala Outfit

Selecting the perfect outfit for a gala requires considering the event’s dress code and your personal style. Whether your taste leans towards a timeless ball gown or a jumpsuit, the key is to select an outfit that showcases your style and contributes to a delightful formal event experience.

We will unpack a variety of options for gowns, dresses, and jumpsuits, guiding you to curate your ideal gala ensemble.

Gowns and Dresses

Gowns and dresses in various styles, colors, and fabrics are perfect to wear to a gala, including metallic shades and bold colors for a statement look.

A shimmery gold or silver dress, for example, would be a daring yet elegant choice for many gala events.


Jumpsuits offer a stylish alternative to traditional gowns and can range from sleek black designs to embellished styles.

  • Basic Structure: Navy blue jumpsuit with a cape and silver embellishments.
  • Accessories: Choose silver accessories. The flared pants and the pattern of the handbag evoke memories of disco times.
  • Footwear: Opt for heeled pumps or mules.
  1. Safiyaa: Aisling Jumpsuit
  2. Judith Leiber: Disco Crystal-Embellished Silver-Tone Tote
  3. Valentino Garavani: Nite-Out 110 Metallic Leather Pumps
  • Basic Structure: Dark gold satin jumpsuit with basic volume at the bottom.
  • Accessories: Opt for off-white accessories. Since the dress lacks a pattern, consider choosing a patterned clutch or a shoulder bag. Consider earrings with pearls.
  • Footwear: Heels.
  1. Solace London: Avena Jumpsuit
  2. Anya Hindmarch: Maud Woven Tassel Clutch
  3. Jimmy Choo: Rommy 100 Satin Pumps

Themed Galas: Embracing the Theme

Themed galas offer a unique opportunity to have fun with your outfit while adhering to the event’s dress code. Embracing the theme by incorporating color schemes, patterns, and prints into your outfit can result in a stunning and memorable look.

Color Schemes

Choosing colors that complement the event’s theme or opting for classic shades like black, navy, or gold ensures a timeless and cohesive look. Popular color schemes for gala events include monochrome or monotone combinations, as well as familiar color pairings for holidays.

When selecting a color scheme, consider the theme and atmosphere of the event to create a harmonious and visually appealing ensemble.

Patterns and Prints

Incorporating patterns and prints into your gala attire can create a unique and eye-catching ensemble. Florals and feminine motifs are a timeless choice for gala outfits. When selecting floral patterns, consider the event’s theme and atmosphere, opting for elegant and sophisticated patterns with delicate blooms and muted colors.

Geometric designs can also be incorporated into gala outfits through garments with geometric patterns or prints, accessories with geometric shapes, or utilizing geometric shapes as design elements in the outfit.

Accessorizing Your Gala Look

Accessorizing your gala look can elevate your outfit and make a statement while adhering to the event’s dress code. From jewelry to bags and shoes, the right accessories can enhance your ensemble and ensure you feel confident and glamorous at the event.

We will delve into a range of accessory options and offer advice on choosing the ideal accompaniments for your gala outfit.


Select elegant statement jewelry, such as necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, to complement your gown or dress. For white tie and black tie events, traditional and elegant jewelry options, like gold, platinum, diamonds, and pearls, are recommended.

To add a touch of sparkle to your gala look, consider crystal or rhinestone jewelry, or opt for chandelier earrings or a statement necklace for a bolder look.

Bags and Clutches

Opt for a small, handheld clutch or evening bag in a coordinating color or metallic shade to complete your look. Top brands like:

  • Alexander McQueen
  • Aquazzura
  • Jimmy Choo
  • Judith Leiber
  • Loeffler Randal
  • Manolo Blahnik
  • Roger Vivier
  • The Attico

design evening bags and clutches suitable for galas.

Current trends in gala clutch bags include:

  • Gold bags
  • Rhinestone clutches
  • Beaded evening bags
  • Vintage clasp bags
  • Mesh clutches
  • Envelope wristlet clutches
  • Satin handbags with bows


Choose comfortable and stylish shoes, such as heels or embellished flats, that match your outfit and allow you to dance the night away. Aquazzura, Gianvito Rossi, Jimmy Choo, and Manolo Blahnik are among the top brands that design gala shoe collections.

Examples of embellished heels suitable for galas include:

  • Satin, velvet or metallic pumps
  • Sandals or mules with embellishments
  • Two-tone or patterned slingback pumps

Styling Tips for Gala Events

Styling for gala events is essential to achieve a look that reinforces your best self and helps you feel confident. We will impart styling suggestions for hair and makeup, along with outerwear choices for extra sophistication and coziness, to guarantee your next gala appearance leaves a memorable impression.

Hair and Makeup

Opt for simple yet sophisticated hairstyles and makeup looks that enhance your natural beauty and complement your outfit. Examples of suitable hairstyles for a gala include:

  • Messy low buns
  • Wrapped curly ponytails
  • Sleek and fluffy ponytails
  • Half-up twist knots with curls pinned to one side
  • Vintage curls

For makeup, achieve a subtle, natural look by selecting neutral tones for eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick, and applying a highlighter to your cheekbones, brow bones, and Cupid’s bow for added radiance.


Consider adding faux fur or feathered wrap, cape, or bolero to your ensemble for added warmth and glamour at a chilly venue. Optimal outerwear for a gala event includes fur jackets, fur wraps, and long coats.

Unsuitable outerwear, such as denim jackets, sweatshirts, or hoodies, should be avoided in favor of dressy coats, fur jackets or wraps, and tailored blazers or structured jackets.


In summary, dressing for a gala event requires understanding the dress code, selecting the perfect outfit that reflects your style, and accessorizing with elegant statement pieces.

By embracing the event’s theme, incorporating color schemes and patterns, and opting for simple yet sophisticated hair and makeup, you can create a stunning and memorable ensemble for your next gala event.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the gala dress code?

For gala events, a black tie dress code is typically expected. If no dress code is specified in the invitation, err on the side of more formal attire.

What do you wear to a gala event?

For a gala event, men typically wear tuxedos, blazers, or button-up shirts. Women should aim for floor-length dresses, while semi-formal and cocktail attire may allow for a midi cocktail dress or jumpsuit.

What is semi-formal attire for a gala?

Semiformal gala outfits include dresses, separates, or a suit in dressy fabrics such as silk or velvet, with heels, strappy sandals, flats, or dress shoes. Adding sparkling gemstones, pearls, and dressy jewelry will complete the look.

Can you wear prints to a gala?

When dressing for a semi-formal gala, you can either choose to stand out with floral prints and a multitude of colors or keep it classic with a monochrome ensemble.

What is the difference between white tie, black tie, and cocktail attire?

White tie is the most formal dress code, black tie is semi-formal, and cocktail attire is the most relaxed option.

Featured image by Cristian Muduc.

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