(Almost) my entire formal wardrobe:
Evening gown: not brand-new, although it might as well be. Purchased the same shopping trip as the dress above, and for the same price! Plans to wear this include a fancy dessert out with my daughters and their friends, where we can all dress up. Preferring to precisely embody the epitome of propriety, I probably won’t wear this to my hero’s company holiday party.
Separates: IMO, this look is a little matronly, but apparently that’s okay because when I actually wore it to an event the other night (with silk long pants under!) I received very generous and very genuine compliments from RLFs whose opinions matter. Like my daughter, who said it doesn’t matter if it looks matronly because it looks good. And my real-life fashion hero, the young mom in our circle who I consider the most artistically styled. I’ll leave it to you RLFs to figure out who that is 😉
Missing from this post: the silver, three-quarter sleeve, silk-and-metallic top that makes the skirt above into a dress. Also a similar, sleeveless, red combo. And a party dress. (But if I ever had the appropriate place to where it, and I could work up the nerve, I’d wear my mom’s wedding dress as a party dress.)
I think part of what makes the formal lifestyle segment such a challenge, and brings about the peer pressure to eliminate it, is the whole cost-per-wear thing. On the other hand, thrifting (or even borrowing) formal-wear can bring it into the realm of reason. BTW, the gunmetal skirt was also $1, with the tags on it still, and I’ve worn it several times, as well as loaning it to a friend to wear with her own sweater.
Cocktail clothes are another subject.