What to wear at an awards ceremony?

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You’ve made the shortlist and now the attention falls to what to wear at the awards ceremony. If you’re fretting, here are our top tips so you dress to impress.

Check the award ceremony dress code

We recommend doing this before you get the glad rags out. The event organisers should let you know in advance if it’s a black-tie dinner or a more casual business affair. If you haven’t received this information, ask. After all, you don’t want to be the only one turning up in a pair of jeans when the rest of the room are dressed up to the nines.

Black tie awards

As a rule of thumb, black tie attire calls for full on glitz and glam. We’re talking updo’s, high shoes, evening gowns and tuxedos. If you’re considering a bow tie, etiquette experts advise selecting one that’s proportionate to your head size, to avoid the clown look. For those who like to rock a cummerbund, it’s advised to never wear one with a waistcoat. When considering a dress, it’s advised going for one that’s full or knee-length, but no shorter. Oh, and tiaras are a no. We have no problem with that one!

Business attire at awards

Where it states ‘business attire’, a safe bet is to wear what you would for a formal business meeting. This means wearing a tie, ironed button-down shirts, smart dresses or blouses with a blazer. When it comes to footwear consider smart heels, loafers or flats.

Smart casual attire at awards

Probably not something you’ll come across at larger awards ceremonies, but worth mentioning for smaller informal gathering which may happen over a lunchtime. Ditch the tie and feel free to open the top button of your shirt. You might even want to wear a pair of chinos and perhaps don a pair of smart trainers.

Dress comfortably

Awards ceremonies usually last at least two hours, including a sit-down meal and time to let loose afterwards. Bear this in mind when choosing your dinner jacket, waistcoat, dress and footwear.  Don’t underestimate the ability to breathe freely and walk in a straight line without falling over. The last thing you want to do is wear something that turns into a trip hazard when collecting your prize, or rips when busting some moves on the dancefloor after a glass or two of champers. Hobbling to the stage in shoes that cause blisters isn’t a good look.

Remember lights, camera… see through?!

If you’re lucky enough to win an award, you’ll be front and centre on stage and then swept off for winners’ photos. Just remember that if you plan on wearing anything sheer, stage lights and flash photography can make your outfit appear see through. Consider your underwear choice too if you are wearing something light coloured. The last thing you want to see is a photo of you seemingly stood in your pants accompanying your organisation’s social media posts and press release. Cringe!

These tips should help you decide what to wear at an awards ceremony, but if you’re unsure of ceremony etiquette check out our ‘dos and don’ts’ blog.

Need help reaching the shortlist? Contact the Awards Writers team by calling 0208 7207307.