So you receive this invitation for a holiday party or a wedding or something and it specifies “formal attire” – what now?
Good question because simply saying you “formal attire” leaves room for interpretation – as the meaning has changed over time. There is black tie and white tie (for guys) and most men I know (all??) don’t know the difference and if they do they sure don’t have either a black or a white tie attire handy. Then there is semi-formal but what used to be semi might now be okay for “full formal”
When in doubt ask about the expectations.
Assuming we are talking a wedding here, big event, but not exactly royalty getting married “formal” would most likely imply for the gents: full suit with necktie or bow tie, maybe a vest (too hot??), leather shoes and belt, tasteful watch, body piercings removed. However, it could mean that a tuxedo (formal in the traditional sense) is required, so better find out. Btw, few men own these things – that’s what tux rental places are for.
Woman would wear either a long evening gown or (careful here) a very nice cocktail dress, knee-length kind of thing (e.g. for a day time wedding). In my experience it is entirely more comfortable to be dressed too nicely then being the only girl in a flowery garden party dress when everybody else is head-to-toe in silk.
Okay, so I admit it, that whole blog was just another excuse to show a picture of an immaculately dressed Daniel Craig. For pictures of formally dressed women just open any of the “girly” magazines and you’ll see more than enough.