How to dress for a formal event on a budget

We all have to attend a formal event at some point, whether it be your third cousin’s second wedding or you’re attending a charity ball. Whatever the reason, there are strict dress codes we often have to adhere to, requiring us to dress formally. If you’ve got plenty of money, that’s great, but many Americans don’t have the disposable income to throw at an expensive formal gown or suit. So, what are the alternatives? How do we turn our little black dress into an outfit fit for a princess? Follow these tips to find fashion hacks to dress formally on a budget!

How to dress for a formal event on a budget

Add a dinner jacket

This goes for everyone; you can quickly spruce up a plain dress or pair of pants by adding a dinner jacket. They come in many shapes and sizes and can be found in most clothing stores for a reasonable price. It is such a simple and inexpensive addition to your wardrobe that you can whip out at a moment’s notice to create a chic, sophisticated style without breaking the bank.

The clutch purse is a must

This is essential for a formal event; it just wouldn’t look right lugging a hefty bag to an awards ceremony. Luckily there are plenty of budget fashion brands that produce gorgeous purses fit for every occasion. Everyone should own a small black purse and build up from there, it’s an absolute must-have and will go with every outfit. The best part about a clutch purse is, not only does it hold all your necessary belongings, but it also acts as a fabulous accessory!

Shawl / Scarf

If you weren’t sold on the dinner jacket idea, why not find a shawl? Elegant and diverse, these are easy to store and take seconds to change a bland outfit into a timeless classic. One of the great things about this simple addition is that you can wear it in a variety of ways. Across the back and over the arms is perfect for formal events, but can always be draped across the shoulders for warmth and an alternative look. What’s not to love?

How to dress for a formal event on a budget

Add a fancy hat or headpiece

Hats are a fantastic thing, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and variations! Good news – that means there is the perfect hat out there for you. Some hats are more appropriate than others, but depending on the formality of the event, you might want to opt for a fascinator! If you would prefer to keep your style more low key, then there’s always the option of a simple headpiece to add some flair to your style.


Jewelry can make or break an outfit, but contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to be expensive, and most of the time people can’t tell whether it’s a diamond or shiny plastic. Cheap also doesn’t necessarily mean tacky either, if you stick to simplicity then you will find your jewelry will compliment your look perfectly.

The best part is, all these items come in different styles and colors, meaning the possibilities are endless. Looking fabulous at a formal event does not need to break the bank, and these simple style solutions can be applied to most outfits to spruce them up; it’s up to you what to choose. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself, make it your own, and have fun!

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