Formal wear, formal apparel or evening dress is the standard Western dress code category applied for most formal occasions, including church services, weddings, confirmations, memorials, holidays, cocktail parties, balls, corporate gatherings, holiday ceremonies, grand openings, grand parades, induction parties and other important occasions. The word “formal” denotes that the item is of a higher value and is expected to reflect societal status. Formal wear can be chosen by individuals based on their own personal taste and budget. But formal wear is often perceived to have a particular gender – that is, it is perceived to be for women. However, men can also choose formal wear depending on the occasion.
Traditionally, women wore long skirts or sheath dresses while men wore suits, plain shirts, bow ties and pocket watches. Nowadays, a majority of Western women are choosing to wear more comfortable pants and shirts, which can either be paired with a formal dress or dressed down. A common type of clothing often used in casual occasions is chinos, which are considered as the ideal layering pieces of clothing for both men and women. Formal attire was also known to include a tuxedo, which is a two-piece suit consisting of a jacket, trousers and tie, sometimes featuring a sash and a waistcoat.
Formal wear can be categorized into four basic types: Western dress code, black tie optional, menswear, and casual. Western dress code refers to an item of clothing that should be appropriate for the cultural and traditional norms of the region where it was worn. Black tie optional, on the other hand, refers to any item of clothing that may be worn for informal occasions and may feature a variety of colors, designs and embellishments. Casual wear, on the other hand, is any item of clothing that may be casually worn without the expectation of a formal occasion. Men’s formal attire usually includes three basic pieces: a shirt, trousers and a tie, while women’s formal attire includes two pieces: a skirt and a top.