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*2023 10 looks!* What to wear to a college formal & semi-formal? (Guys & girls!)

*2023 10 looks!* What to wear to a college formal & semi-formal? (Guys & girls!)

As the saying goes “Nobody wants to give up a weekend-long excuse to dress up and attempt to outshine one another”.

If you are wondering what to wear to a college formal and semi-formal, here’s the right place!

In a broad sense, college formal refers to the events organized by professional clubs, academic groups, student groups, and more.

These semi-formal and formal events can come in a wide range of forms from dinners, fundraisers, ceremonies, and all kinds of party themes.

To make sure you blend in the crowd and feel the best, below I’ve gathered 10 real-life college formals and semi-formal outfit ideas.

Enjoy and get inspired!

1. What to wear to a sorority formal & semi-formal

College or sorority formal is kind of a big deal, especially when it’s your own. From the name of the event, the hint of formal attire just can’t be any more obvious.

To nail the formal or black tie optional dress code, ladies should wear a floor-length gown or dressy suit. 

As a petite girl, wearing a maxi dress can be tricky and some dresses just don’t flatter my frame at all.

Of all, I find the romantic fishtail dress the most flattering. By sculpting my curves in the best place, it keeps my figure tall and sleek.

Another big plus? The flared hem also makes my legs appear to be slimmer. LOVE

If the event is semi-formal, you can mostly get away with the cocktail dress or elegant pantsuit and jumpsuit as well!

2. What to wear to college formal guys

When it comes to a notable organization induction and other events, think the traditional college formal dress code.

For young gentlemen, a form-fitting dark suit with dressy leather shoes is your best bet. However, if you want to pull off a highly formal appearance, swap your necktie for a bow tie for sure.

Trust me, just a little change can elevate your outfit in a preppy and tasteful way.

3. What to wear to college formal in a chic way

Times have changed, for most of the college formals, the dress code is more liberal these days. While necktie is encouraged, there’s no hard and fast rule.

To update your college formal look with a minimalist cool style, switch up the regular white shirt to the black monotone ensemble just look irresistibly modern.

For ladies, let’s not forget to get your hands picture perfect. You will take a ton of photos that day and perfect nails are such a mood booster!

4. When in doubt, match the colors

Going to the college formal with your date and want to give a thought to the look? Well, matching the hue always works wonders.

If you don’t want to appear to be too samey, try pairing up a lighter shade with a darker shade (Think royal blue dress and light blue suit).

Another subtle way is to match the color of the tie with the dress, such thoughtful details without going too OTT.

5. What bag to wear to college formals

For ladies, the hardest thing is not about picking which dresses to wear, it’s about how you can put all your essentials in your super-duper mini clutch.

To look sleek and elegant, remember pick everything in mini size (e.g. mini lipstick) and keep things to a minimum. 

Just some cash, ID and credit card, tissue, floss stick, bandage for high heels and you’re good to go.

Back in those days, my girlfriends and I will assign each one to bring different makeup items to share. For example, Josie bring mascara and I bring lipstick.

Well, this is not the most hygienic way but at least we can carry a red carpet-worthy clutch like a pro!

6. What to wear to college formal in winter

If you think going to a winter college formal means you have to sacrifice your fashion style, well, think again.

All you need to do is pick the right outerwear that truly vibes with your glamourous dress and you’ll be all set. Think the formal bolero jacket or a nice poncho that looks inherently glam.

When the days are chilly out, a faux fur short jacket is the total eye candy. Together with a super-fine red satin dress, this look exuded nothing but drama and elegance.

7. Forgiving peplum dress to college formal dinner

To make sure you look 10/10 for a sit-down dinner kind of college formals, hiding the tummy is the ultimate skill set every girl has to master.

Of course, I am not saying about sucking the belly all day long (that would be silly!). All you need to do is throw on a peplum dress and Viola – your food baby is gone.

peplum dress to college formal dinner
Get this peplum dress on Amazon

Featuring the extra stripe of fabric gathered around the waist, it just camouflages your belly completely and fakes a nice hourglass figure for you.

Together with a nice hair-do and sassy block heels, you are ready make the guys weak at their knees.

8. Formal jumpsuit for college girl

For the ladies who gravitate towards pants, I’d say lean into it.

These days, pantsuits and jumpsuits are all the rage in the college formal. This boss lady piece just make you look so well thought-out, whilst being comfy and classy.

If you have chubby cheeks like me, consider wearing an asymmetrical jumpsuit like the one below.

formal jumpsuit for college girl
Get this jumpsuit on Amazon

Not only does it looks so stylish, but the asymmetrical shoulder neckline help also draws your eyes upward and elongates your neck, and makes your face appear to be smaller. 

The best part? The fabric is thick and sturdy, making it looks like a high fashion piece.

To spice up the look, a gold chain belt and glitter heels are the killing addition here!

9. What to wear to a college semi formal

If you are attending a college semi-formal, you can certainly dress more relaxed and fun for the club/ bar type of venue.

Think of a flirty sequin cocktail dress, sassy bodycon, or anything in between!


If you want to dance your night away, make sure your dress won’t be too short for making the moves!

Of course, gravitate towards comfy shoes like low block heels that can truly support you the whole night.

10. What hairstyle to wear for college formal & semi-formal

Last but not least, the hair-do. I mean, life is too short to have boring hair, especially when it comes to a college formal.

When in doubt, invest a good 10 minutes for a nice hair-do. Whether that’s youthfulness overload high pony or the romantic half-up half-down, trying something new always makes you feel so good.

If you are a lazy girl like me, at least wear a nice pearl headband or clips that embellishes your hair with a graceful temperament!


So there you go, the 10 outfit ideas if you are wondering what to wear to a college formal and semi-formal.

What are your thoughts on that? I hope these outfit tips help and now it’s time for you to lock down the final look and make your college life a blast!

If you are looking for more outfit tips and tricks, check out my other popular blog posts. See you there loves!

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