What to Wear to a Gala Event


What to Wear to a Gala EventWhat to Wear to a Gala Event

You’ve been cordially invited to a gala. Now the challenge is choosing the right dress. Learn what to wear to a work gala, charity event, or elegant ball with fashion tips and inspiration from St. John Knits. 

Gala Dress Codes

Deciding what to wear to a gala dinner largely depends on the formality of the event. The selection of appropriate dresses to choose from varies between occasions with black tie, black tie optional, and semi-formal attire dress codes. Find the best dress for your gala with our luxury styling guide:

Black Tie

As the most formal type of gala, the dress code at a black tie event is the most strict and sophisticated. For these classically elegant formal galas, consider floor-length gowns that offer a regal and luxurious appearance.

Sticking to a full-length dress selection doesn't mean your style options are limited. Pick a fit and flare gown for a figure-hugging fit at the bodice that flares out towards the bottom. For a sleeker, straight fit that still feels comfortable, choose a luxe knit dress. A striking halter or plunge neckline in classic black offers an irresistible combination of classic style and surprise. Reference the glamor of Hollywood with gowns featuring intricate embellishments, metallic accents, cutouts, or inlay sequin designs.

Long ball gowns require high heels and exquisite accessories to complete the ensemble. Drape an elegant necklace around your neck with complementary earrings or other unique jewelry pieces, and add a delicate clutch or handbag for the finishing touch.

Knit Gowns: Solid Heavy Georgette Kaftan

Black Tie Optional

For black tie optional galas, you still have the option to stun fellow attendees in more formal gowns, but the dress code rules aren't quite as restrictive. Evening dresses and separates can be worn to elegant effect, and you can embrace less structured silhouettes for effortless elegance and fluid grace.

Heels still make the best shoe option to accompany black tie optional attire. When selecting your jewelry,  consider opting for larger statement pieces for a bold and beautiful semi-formal look.

Knit Dresses: Inlay Sequin Trellis Knit V-Neck Dress

Knit Dresses: Metallic Plaited Mixed Knit Dress


Semi-formal attire is the most casual of the three, meaning you have a large spectrum of gala dresses and apparel to choose from. A short sleeve cocktail dress with metallic elements or printed motifs combines high-end embellishments with a playful shorter length. For a more modern ensemble, pair sophisticated separates into a chic pantsuit look. Match liquid satin pants with a corresponding satin blouse or tank for a top-to-bottom sheen. Complete the pantsuit with an exquisite knit cardigan to give your attire a little extra sparkle.

Again, a semi-formal dress code gives you flexibility when choosing your shoes and accessories. Keep your attire classic by pairing your cocktail dress or pantsuit with heels or try wedges for a more informal feel.

No matter the formality and dress code of your event, find beautifully crafted gowns and separates to wear to your gala at St. John Knits. Shop our new arrivals to discover your dream evening gown, cocktail dress, or pantsuit ensemble.