Choosing clothes for a semi-formal event can be confusing. Semi-formal attire comes in all shapes and sizes, so how do you know when your choice is appropriate?

If you’re unsure what to wear to a semi-formal event, keep on reading. We’ve got ideas for on-trend semi-formal outfits for all events, including wedding guest attire. Make sure you’re ready for the upcoming party season!

What is Semi-Formal Dress Code?

Picking semi-formal wear can be confusing, especially since a semi-formal outfit can look different for different occasions. Typically, semi-formal dresses are more formal than business casual or office wear, but not as formal as an evening gown.

Evening events will require more formal looks than daytime events, but this rule may change depending on where the event is, the type of event it is, and who’s hosting it. When in doubt, always check the invitation for the dress code!

1. Maxi Dress with Subtle Frills. If you’re unsure what to wear to a summer semi-formal event, you might want to consider a maxi dress with feminine frills. Frills or ruffles look great on all women and add a touch of formality to any look.

Semi Formal Maxi Dress

2. Neutral Semi-Formal Wear for Ladies. Getting dressed up for an event doesn’t mean you have to go wild with color! Semi-formal occasions work with neutral colors too. Opt for beiges, creams, or whites, for a soft palette. This color theme works well with minimal make up and glowy skin. Add soft curls to your hair for a polished beauty look.

Semi Formal Dress and Leopard Heels

3. Romantic Red Cocktail Attire. If you’re in need of a cocktail dress, consider choosing a deep red color. This is a perfect style for date nights, romantic evenings, or any time with your partner. Pair this gown with some red lipstick for a complete semi-formal look.

Cocktail Dress with Ankle Strap Heels

4. Semi-Formal Wedding Guest Attire. Wedding guest dresses can be tough to find. However, maxi styles and soft feminine touches always work for these events. These dresses also make great bridesmaid dresses too.

Bridesmaids Dresses for Semi-Formal Wedding

5. Asymmetrical Shoulder Line Dresses. If you need a wedding party dress, but don’t want to opt for traditional maxi styles, try an asymmetrical cut. This style adds a unique look to your outfit, without being too formal.

Semi Formal Off the Shoulder Dress

6. Semi-Formal Attire for Plus Size Women. If you’ve received a wedding invitation dictating a semi-formal wedding attire, this is not a reason to refuse from showing off your curves! Consider lace styles – these compliment plus size ladies and add a flirty feeling to the look.

Semi Formal Lace Style Dress for Plus Size Women

7. Short Dress for Semi-Formal Event. Semi-formal dresses don’t have to be long! There are some mini dress styles that work with semi-formal dress code. Choose dresses in soft colors with elegant details for a special event.

Short Dress for a Spring Summer Party

8. Pastel Blue Semi-Formal Party Outfit. Knee-length dresses can often be overlooked, but they shouldn’t be! Try a knee length gown in pastel blue for a perfect wedding or cocktail dress style.

Semi Formal Knee Length Dress

9. Smart Suit with Trousers. Dress pants make a great alternative to floor length gowns. These are especially effective for holiday parties and smart casual events too. Make sure your suit or jacket is ironed well!

Smart Suit for Semi Formal Occasion

10. Dressy Summer Dress for Weddings. Summer dresses come in a range of bright, vivid hues. While these don’t always look formal, they can be dressed up to meet ceremony dress codes. Plus, they’re great for summer parties.

Semi Formal Plus Size Maxi Dress

11. Flirty Off the Shoulder Dress. This sleek dress is a must-try for any woman looking for a sensual look. This might not fit every dress code, so check whether you can wear this to the formal ceremony first.

Sexy Off the Shoulder Dress for a Party

12. Mint Green Blazer Outfit. Looking for an alternative to formal dresses? Many weddings allow pant suits and skirts too! This mint green blazer style mixes tailoring and a mini length for an appropriate dress code. Also, mint green suits all spring events!

Blazer Outfit for a Semi Formal Event

13. Fashion Focused Formalwear. Did you know you can mix high fashion elements for weddings? Add glamorous belts and fabrics to a mini dress for a luxe finish. This suits nighttime venues or cocktail events best.

Short Dress with Long Sleeves and Chunky Heels

14. Backless Black Dress. If you want to opt for a minimalist take on semi-formal dresses, try a backless style with intricate lacing detail. This can be too candid for formal situations but will look effortlessly chic on a party. Add black shoes and bag for a contemporary finish.

Semi Formal Black Dress with Spaghetti Straps

15. White Gown Paired with Minimalistic Accessories. Though they say you should avoid white for weddings, this casual dress looks great for formal events. This looks great when paired with neutral accessories, more so if you’ve got a healthy summer tan.

Dressing for Semi Formal Event Paired with Minimalistic Accessories

16. High Neck Dress. High neck dresses will enhance your feminine silhouette and is a great variant for women looking for a more modest, yes, elegant wedding wear. Pair this style with chunky heels for a modern finish.

High Neck Wedding Guest Dress

17. Electric Blue for Summer Dressing. Some colors suit the summer months better than others, and one of these is electric blue. You can find dresses in this shade in nearly every shop, so get yours quick before the season! This color compliments a healthy tan.

Semi Formal Wedding Guest Attire

18. Oversized Jacket and Pants. Pants and jackets aren’t often thought of as dressy options, but paired with heels and jewelry, they look great for a semi-formal occasion. If you’re aiming for an alternative look or a modern vibe, experiment with masculine semi-formal attire.

Smart Suit with Skirt for Semi Formal Occasions

19. Cute Pink Bodycon Outfit. Impress the guests at your next event with this pink gown. Formal events give us an excuse to go bold, so try a bright color for your next wedding. Whether you pick pink, blue, or green, brighter color is always a recommended option.

Semi Formal Off the Shoulders Dress for Curvy Woman

20. Corset Inspired Semi-Formal Attire. Corset-inspired clothing has been a hot trend for a while now. This chic semi-formal take on the style looks great for summer events and will shows guests you have an eye for trends.

Corset Mini Dress for Semi Formal Dress Code

21. Warm Orange Tones. When you’re looking for semi-formal dresses, make sure you shop around for warm colors. Orange, red, and yellow are ideal for summer wedding guest dresses.

Short Off the Shoulder Dress of Sping Summer Party

22. Pink Suit Jacket. Semi-formal events can be flexible when it comes to clothes. If you feel daring, try a dark suit or pink dress pants at your next wedding. Better pair it with a feminine hairstyle if you don’t want to be extra!

Smart Suit with Trousers for a Special Event

23. Off the Shoulders Mini. Need a flattering wedding option for the evening reception? Go for an off the shoulders mini. This wedding wear is flirty and fun, ideal for evening events.

One Color Strapless Mini Dress

24. Dressy Prints and Patterns. Semi-formal attire often comes in plain fabrics, but you can play around with prints and patterns too! Add some jewelry to this colorful style for a clash of elements. This is for anyone with a daring look!

Unpretentious Semi Formal Party Outfit

25. Two-Piece Semi-Formal Wedding Attire. Are you sick of wedding guest dresses? Switch it up and choose a two-piece trouser outfit instead! Add some dress shoes and accessories for a complete look.

Two-Piece Outfit for Semi Formal Summer Event

What Shoes to Wear with Semi-Formal Attire?

Not all semi-formal events will require heels. However, you may need to check the code as some require formal shoes. As a rule, trainers and flat pumps aren’t appropriate. Instead, try stilettos, wedges, or sandals, if you want a flat option.

Dress shoes come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know which will work with your outfit. The best way to find heels or sandals that match your look is to shop by color. Match your bag to your suit or gown for a cohesive semi-formal look.

A semi-formal wedding or a party is a reason to celebrate! However, you may also find yourself worrying about what to wear and if your option is appropriate. Always take time to plan your accessories, shoes, and manicure too. Also, try your outfit on in advance – you don’t want to turn up in the wrong outfit on the big day!


No, jeans are typically not suitable for semi-formal events, even if you dress them up with a blazer and heels. Semi-formal events usually call for dressier attire such as classy pants with a blouse or a   nice top, a semi-formal skirt outfit, or a cocktail dress. 

Formal wear is commonly worn for black tie events such as galas, balls, and high-end dinners and typically requires an evening gown or a long cocktail dress. Semi-formal attire is slightly more relaxed while still requiring a dressy outfit and shoes.  

Yes, a short dress can be semi-formal. The key to achieving a semi-formal look with a short dress is to accessorize accordingly — think chunky statement jewelry and sophisticated heels — and keep the overall silhouette streamlined and refined. 

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Lisa Davis
Lisa is a personal style advisor with a huge passion for flattering hairstyles and capsule wardrobes. She helps many women and men transition to a new style and a new self-perception. In that respect, she often sees herself as a psychologist that helps people rediscover their strength by learning...

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