Four-step guide to Hong Kong formal wear – how to reinvent your look this season
Forget traditional evening gowns and cocktail dresses, this season’s formal look is all about having fun and being bold when you step out in your evening attire
Hongkongers err on the side of caution when it comes to daring formal wear, usually opting for traditional evening gowns and cocktail dresses. While these may look elegant, they can also verge on boring. Fortunately there are plenty of designers bucking the trend by creating fun and unique looks for after dark. Here are four easy ways to update your formal wear this season:
1. Embrace your sporty side
It took a while for sportswear to be accepted as a bona fide fashion trend, but now every brand from Louis Vuitton to Celine has incorporated elements of it into their ready-to-wear collections. While Balenciaga’s glittery pink leggings are not advisable for black-tie occasions, there are other ways to inject a sporty vibe into your evening attire.
Take cues from Valentino’s spring-summer 2018 show, where designer Pierpaolo Piccioli sent out romantic embroidered evening gowns that featured either ribbed trims, layered cropped tops or racer back tops for a haute couture-meets-sportswear look.Other sporty staples that have been given the luxe treatment include bomber jackets and cargo pants. Choose embellished styles made from evening wear fabrics such as colourful silk or leather.
If activewear isn’t your thing then don’t fret – simply pair your evening dress with a pair of haute couture-style trainers which are on-trend and comfortable. The more over-the-top the better, so look for styles with beading, lace, bows and other decorative details as seen at Dior and Roger Vivier.
2. Never underestimate the power of separates
A little black dress seems like a foolproof and safe option, but that doesn’t mean that separates aren’t as fun to experiment with. Swap your full-length gown for mix-and-match staples such as tulle skirts, tuxedo trousers, tailored jackets and statement tops.
Don’t be afraid to mix formal with casual – a Gucci sweatshirt with a dramatic maxiskirt is bang on trend, while Clare Waight Keller matched a sheer embroidered blouse with a simple black miniskirt for a contemporary evening look. Other must-have separates that are evening-appropriate include beaded crop tops, ruffled blouses and skirts with side pleats, all of which were big trends on recent catwalks.
While a tuxedo jacket has become an evening essential, it has quickly been replaced by pyjamas which have been popularised by brands such as F.R.S For Restless Sleepers. This comfortable and chic favourite can now be worn outside the bedroom, thanks to luxe fabrics such as velvet and silk, or bold prints. Wearing the look head-to-toe takes lots of confidence – be sure to leave the slippers at home and opt for heels instead. Who needs an evening gown?
3. Play with different fabrics
Evening wear is no longer restricted to traditional fabrics such as lace and silk, designers have started to experiment with unexpected materials such as corduroy, chain mail and crystal mesh. Velvet evening wear in jewel shades was a big hit on the catwalks of brands such as Altuzarra, Jason Wu and Erdem.
If you’re after a more dramatic look, then leather is a sleek and sexy option. At Saint Laurent the fabric was transformed into a cool one-shoulder evening gown. If you prefer to stick to tried-and-tested materials like lace, then go for more daring styles featuring fashionable details like sheer panelling and cut outs.
The best part about this season is that designers have pieced together various fabrics and textures to form collage-worthy dresses that are great for a night out. Dolce & Gabanna’s dresses feature a fun mix of jacquard and brocade, while McQueen’s dresses mix hand-embroideries with woven tweed. At Louis Vuitton’s recent spring show, colourful brocade waist coats were paired with metallic leather trousers for an old-world-meets-modern look.
4. Cover-up in style
Forget making a statement with your dress – a bold cover-up is the way to go and can add a fun twist to your evening look. Hot trends include vintage style coats – preferably in faux fur – in various colours including blue as seen at Miu Miu. Tapestry inspired jackets spotted at Naeem Khan and Gucci are both nostalgic and colourful. Chanel’s silver quilted coats border on futuristic, while Calvin Klein’s plastic styles are practical yet fun. Dark denim is also unexpected for evening wear and looks great paired with a more formal black evening gown. One thing’s for sure: your cover-up should have plenty of colour as seen at brands such as Missoni.
And, for those who prefer not to go down the fur route, feathers are a much more stylish and an sustainable alternative. Our favourite look of the season was a dramatic floor length white coat covered in feathers at Sonia Rykiel. It’s the perfect kind of fashion statement for all occasions.