05 May 2022
By Kristen Daly
Fancy soiree coming up? If you’re donning a dress, never fear - our guide to picking the perfect formal dress in 2022 is right here.
It’s a broad genre of dressing up, encompassing semi-formal party numbers, swishy black-tie evening gowns and everything in between. There are classic hues and silhouettes to consider, as well as current trends like cut outs, corset bodices, high-shine embellishments and remixed one-shoulder looks.
Whether you break it or obey it, you'll be slaying that dress code with these current or soon-to-be bestsellers.
Let’s start with a longstanding formal dress tradition: prom! (Or, depending on where you live, your formal, leaver's dinner or other fancy school event.)
In 2022, there are oodles of prom dress trends around - and Showpo serves up just about all of ‘em.
Find your main character energy with a hot curve-hugging number like our Out Till Dawn Dress, with on-trend sequins - or channel it into a princess moment instead with a tulle confection like the Emmary Dress.
Out Till Dawn Split Maxi Dress in Navy Sequin
Emmary Bustier Bodice Tulle Gown in Pink
Speaking of main character energy… your birthday’s rolling around, and you’re looking for that dress. If you’re holding a fancier formal birthday party, you gotta find one worthy of the moment.
It’s your chance to play with daring-but-wearable trends, like big bows, cut outs and ruching. Have fun with the 60s-meets-80s vibe of our Verlyn Dress, or turn heads in the luxe Sophie Dress in rich red.
Verlyn Off Shoulder Statement Bow Satin Mini Dress in Black/Pink
Sophie Cowl Neck Cross Back Maxi Dress in Red
Unlike a birthday bash or other semi-formal do, weddings have a pretty clear dress code. As a guest, you’re not the star of the event, so it’s best to tone down your look while still looking suitably dressy.
Err on the traditional side with a pretty number like our Glaucus Dress in Elegant Rose, which merges classic florals with an asymmetric silhouette featuring one shoulder and a small split.
And yes, we know this is about formal dresses - but we couldn’t resist including a two piece set. They continue to be a major formal trend, and our directional but understated Kelcie Set is just divine.
Glaucus Dress in Elegant Rose
Kelcie Two Piece Formal Skirt Set with Flutter Sleeve Crop Top in Wine
A step or two up from classic wedding wear, a black tie dress is, quite simply, bougie.
If you get an invite with this dress code, it’s best to play it safe and go full-length - with minimal hints of skin. Consider the sumptuous, figure-skimming Elzales Dress, or if you’re more of an A-line gal, our Allany Dress.
Elzalez One Shoulder Beaded Strap Satin Maxi Dress in Navy
Allany Pleated Tulle Maxi Dress in Emerald
Attending any of the events above, or maybe an awards night or end-of-year dinner? You’ll want a dress that’ll go the distance over a long, activity-filled evening.
Our Maibelle Dress is a refined-but-relaxed maxi option with a self-fastening wrap design - just what you need when you've enjoyed several courses and want to loosen the waist a little.
We also adore an easy-to-cinch evening dress like our Enchante Dress. Once you strap yourself in to this slinky, shimmery number, also in trendy sequins, you’ll be on that d-floor without a care.
Maibelle Frill Shoulder Wrap Maxi Dress in Wine
Enchante Strappy Halter Sequin Maxi Dress in Emerald
Now some notes on seasonal dressing!
Whether inside or al fresco, summer formal events often call for less fabric - and a carefree mood to match. Fun mini dresses in big, bold hues will - like the summer sun shining on your occasion - spark plenty of serotonin; lightweight midis with slender spaghetti straps are another fail-safe pick.
For your garden party, cocktail evening or beachside holiday gathering, we recommend our much-loved Brailey Mini Dress, or sweet How Will I Know Dress.
Brailey Dress in Pink Floral
How Will I Know Dress in Champagne
When it gets a little darker and cooler outside, it just feels right to pick a formal dress to match. For that winter ball, fancy restaurant soiree or any other cold-weather formal outing, pick a dress in jewel tones or darker neutrals and with long sleeves for extra coverage.
With its voluminous sleeves and skirt, cinched in waist and V-neckline, our Dangerous Woman Dress is a bestseller for a reason. We also love a daring number like the Atoir - The Liberty Dress in Ivy.
Dangerous Woman Maxi Dress in Black
Atoir - The Liberty Dress in Ivy
This genre is for all the queens who want to stand out, even if it means taking some risks. If you wanna wear a neon gown to that awards night, or a micro mini to your prom, we say babe, why not!
Our dramatic Magnaye Dress and glam Runaway The Label - Serita Dress - both in statement-making hot shades - are two of our picks for the season.
Magnaye One Shoulder Thigh Split Maxi Dress in Pink Stretch Crepe
Runaway The Label - Serita Dress in Orange
Speaking of hot colours! This season we’re obsessed with bold brights, but we also know a classic black or fresh white will never go out of style.
Our No One's Fault Dress is available in blue, rust and other shades, but we can’t resist the black version. Its sleek one-shoulder silhouette rendered in timeless black is chic formal dress perfection.
For fans of wearing white, may we also nominate the Hawk Dress. Featuring trendy finishes like a corset bodice and ruching, it’s the perfect blend of monochromatic simplicity with modern, directional detailing.
No One's Fault One Shoulder Maxi Dress in Black
Hawk Off Shoulder Corset Drawstring Detail Midi Dress in White
Could this be the trickiest dress code of them all? When they say formal, you know they mean fancy, but with semi-formal almost anything goes. (Except probably loungewear.)
Master this middle ground with a semi-formal dress that says you made the effort without doing the most. Enter: the Flordeliza. This 90s-inspired slip mixes the luxe look of satin with a more casual silhouette.
A lurex or crepe-like finish will also hit that sweet spot between elevated and everyday. Easily style our Chrys Dress up with stilettos and jewels, or down with low heels and beach waves.
Flordeliza Thigh Slit Midi Slip Dress in Wine
Chrys Halter Chain Cutout Maxi Dress in Rust
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