If a black tie optional event is mostly business men, can this reader dare to bare with a backless dress?
Dear Sharon: I would sincerely appreciate your input on an issue I am having with a business black tie optional event. I am attending a “black tie optional” awards ceremony and
dinner for a builders’ association in Western NY (near Canada). My completely platonic date is my boss.
The builders’ association is pretty male dominated, but I’m sure most will bring their wives/girlfriends to this particular event.
I have this gorgeous vintage Ann Taylor black suede dress that comes to just above the knee, has bracelet-length sleeves, and is backless almost to the waist but a little higher. I am dying to wear it! Would that be completely inappropriate? My boss will be wearing a tux. For reference, I am 5’4,112 lbs. Thank you! (S.B. via Fashion Advice)
Your dress sounds stunning! I would have to go out on the limb to think that although it is backless, as it’s from Ann Taylor, its low back will be far from risqué and lean more to chic.
However, I don’t know how creative they get a business association event and being that it it mostly male dominated, you don’t want to give off an overtly sexy vibe. What to wear to a black tie optional event can be confusing enough, so add the extra element of too sexy and it gets even more complicated. To clear things up, I would ask your boss as he is your “date” and probably very familiar with what is appropriate dress for this industry.
Providing you get a go from him, I would still wear a coverup that works well as both an accessory and keeps you looking more reserved, just in case. An evening wrap in a luxurious fabric that has some luster will complement the black suede. A capelet will also do the trick as something to cover up your bare back without looking to heavy. If the dress code is more dressy, you can keep your wrap on your chair and strut your stuff. If you get dirty looks from some of the wives and leers from the old guys, you have your beautiful wrap to stay chic and more conservative.
Carry a clutch that doesn’t interfere with the line of the wrap and some fab earring and a cuff… you’re good to go!
I pulled a few pretty evening wraps for you to consider:
Lead photo: Ilana Wolf Silk Organza Wrap at Saks
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Published on November 27, 2012