Award Season: What to Wear to an Awards Ceremony

Behind the Design

Awards season is just around the corner, the invitations are flooding in, and it's time to address the eternal question: what to wear to an awards ceremony? From chic cocktail dresses to elegant evening gowns, the style experts at St. John Knits help you decode the invitation to find the perfect eye-catching looks for every occasion.

Confetti Sequin JacketConfetti Sequin Jacket

Awards Night Dress Code Details

Awards ceremonies typically call for an elegant formal style, but there can be a lot of variation within that category. Should you wear something chic and playful, or is a floor-sweeping gown a more appropriate choice?

The simplest way to answer this question is to examine the invitation. These classic dress codes are some of the most popular for awards ceremonies, and each comes with their own unique set of rules.

  • Cocktail: A playful, lightly formal style, cocktail attire calls for dresses that fall just above or below your knees. They can be fitted or loose, and while black is the traditional look, creative colors and textures are also welcome.
  • Formal: A step up from cocktail, formal dresses can range from just below the knee to floor length.
  • Black tie: The highest form of formal dress, black tie attire for women consists of elegant gowns in a full-length silhouette.


As with any ensemble, the most important element of choosing a gown is dressing for your style and choosing the type of silhouette that fits you best. Follow the cuts and rules dictated by the dress code, then embrace your own unique sense of elegance within that range. Both fitted gowns and overlay designs look effortlessly poised, it's simply a question of what makes you feel most comfortable and inspired.


When choosing the perfect dresses to wear to an awards ceremony, embracing luxury is always a good choice. Opt for fabrics that drape easily, like silk, satin, and delicate chiffon. Don't be afraid to play with texture – a sequined off the shoulder gown will always make an elegant impression.


Like choosing the perfect silhouette, the style of your gown depends primarily upon your unique personal taste. Halter dresses, open shoulder, and v neck designs are all appropriate as long as they conform to the length of the dress code. When in doubt, choose longer cuts and let the accents come in the form of shoulder and neckline details. A halter neck gown creates a flattering silhouette while fitting the full-length rules of black tie, while a  silk organza jumpsuit offers a fresh modern take on award ceremony attire.

Fluid Viscose Plisse Knit Dress

Evening Metallic Pinstripe Jacket and Pant

Tips from SJK – Awards Ceremony Do's and Don'ts

Before you step out the door and onto the red carpet, run through these simple do's and don'ts of the awards night dress code to ensure you make the perfect elegant impression.

Do: Wear something that's tailored to you

You should look and feel your best wherever you go, so make sure your gown is perfectly tailored to your body. When in doubt, gowns that are custom designed or altered to fit your shape are a simple way to ensure a refined impression.

Don't: Go too short

It's always better to arrive looking more elegant than the dress code demands. If you're ever unsure of what cut is appropriate, opt for longer styles and let inspired necklines and unique fabrics add the creative touch.

Do: Embrace your sparkle

From all-over sequin gowns to delicate sparkling accents, adding a subtle glitter to your ensemble never goes amiss on the red carpet. Browse evening gowns and designer couture to let your natural style shine while keeping the silhouettes effortlessly elegant and refined.

Do: Dress for the venue

A corporate awards ceremony and a creative awards ceremony call for slightly different inspiration in the looks. While they may have the same dress code, corporate events lean towards more reserved and classic styles, while creative venues are the perfect opportunity to embrace your personality. Explore sleek and simple designer gowns and evening dresses for your professional space, then let your unique taste shine with full-length gowns in sequins, prints, and sparkles for your next creative red carpet.

Sequined Birdseye V-Neck Gown

Silk Chiffon Train Gown