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Casual Versus Formal

Seamstresses, aka fabric consultants and clothing consultants can really shine during this upcoming Holiday season of parties and get-togethers by helping their customers put together the “right” outfit for the occasion. 

Despite today’s life style being casual as a general rule, there are still those occasions that are strictly formal or absolutely dressy.  And it is no fun to be the only person in a gathering who did not dress to fit the occasion.  Seamstresses can help enable their customers to wear just the right outfit for formal or dressy occasions, and to have an either-way outfit when there is no way to know ahead of time whether an event is casual or dressy.

Fabric alone can make an outfit say “formal”.  A pant suit or dress goes formal with such fabrics as silver gray jersey or any satiny fabric in a dark or neutral color.  Flesh or blush, brown, gray or forest green fabrics of crepe, chiffon or silk are definitely “formal”.

Sequins and beads can add glamour to the formal outfits.  In rows they could be confined to the bodice, however multi-color beads or sequins on a sheer multi-color print can follow the print of the fabric in as much area as desired.  Some favorite formal necklines are halter, one-shoulder, strapless, cowl or ruffled.

While accessories should not compete with an outfit that is striking in appearance, they can be added as a nice feature – beaded, sequined or metallic envelope evening bags can be added.  Metallic belts, fancy cumberbunds or jeweled buckles are other possibilities.

For the very dressy, but not formal, social affair, the combination of an informal fabric with a formal one is great.  A skirt or pants of dark wool flannel with a matching color satin blouse does the trick.  Or a solid color crepe dress with the same color quilted wool flannel vest, or gabardine with satin piping and/or satin frog closures.  Skirt length may be long or just an inch or so longer than street length, depending on the event.

Most difficult of all is the totally unknown situation – the husband’s office party or the organization you just joined recently is having a Holiday party.  Generally, this is the dressy-versus-casual possibility.  A bit of hedging is in order, and an outfit that has a secret feature is the answer.  The popularity of blazers and other cover-up jackets comes in handy.  Skirt (or pants) and jacket would be in a fabric that is unquestionably casual.  Under the jacket, of course, is a top that if displayed will lend a completely different effect.  Any of the formal fabrics, trims and styles can change the mood of the bodice and that mood can dominate the outfit.  Shoes and purse, if they are conservative in style and material, can go with the cover outfit or the hidden one.

Your customers will be forever grateful to you, as you help them through the “how to dress” concern during the upcoming Holiday Season!

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author

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