Do you have events, parties or weddings to attend this year? Then a semi-formal look could be perfect. If your invitation doesn’t stipulate a dress code, semi formal attire for women is usually a safe bet.

Or, if your invitation does say “semi formal” what exactly does it mean, what should your wear, where should you wear it, and how should you wear it? Let’s take a look at semi formal attire for women.

What is semi formal attire for women?

The clue is definitely in the name. As you would expect, semi formal is dressy attire that falls below a formal or black tie dress code, but still a big step above casual wear. It’s different to business casual, as you can be more playful, and add your own expressive twists to suit your style personality.

For example, rather than wearing a long, formal gown, you might choose a cocktail dress, pants suit or jumpsuit. You can think about knee and midi lengths, prints, and elevated separates.

Semi formal attire for women - Julie in a red outfit |

Julie @stylishparadox above (read her style interview here) puts together a stylish look that mixes tones of red and burgundy.

Steal her look with this similar blazer dress (another option here), pants, booties, handbag, earrings and belt.

When might you wear it?

Unless your invitation asks you to dress in a specific formal way, then semi formal is perfect for all sorts of occasions, from weddings to parties to dinner.

Semi formal attire for women - what the dress code means and when to wear it |

Cathy @themiddlepageblog above (read her style interview here) shows how a pair of wide leg pants can be perfect for a semi-formal look. You can elevate your look even further by chooses a luxurious fabric such as velvet or silk.

She is wearing a printed blouse from EVEREVE (another option here) and pants from Ulla Johnson (other options here and here). Check out this similar belt, necklace, sandals, sunglasses and shoulder bag.

Your semi formal attire for women capsule wardrobe

Below, you’ll find all the clothes, shoes and accessories you need to put together your own semi-formal look. Read on for a capsule semi-formal capsule wardrobe that should give you plenty of inspiration.


If you prefer to wear separates, look out for luxe materials such as silk and satin for your tops. You could also add a print to bring some personality into your outfit.

Semi formal tops for women |

KOBI HALPERIN Liv Stretch Silk BlouseTed Baker London Joanha High Mock Neck Satin BlouseTed Baker London Jamyna Metallic Abstract Floral BlouseTed Baker London Arelln Floral Mesh Top

Jamie wears leather and lace |

Jamie @moreturquoise (read her style interview here) teams different textures in her outfit by mixing leather and lace. She elevates her outfit with her metallic accessories and statement earrings.

Check out this lace top (other options here and here), pants (other options here and here), pumps, clutch and earrings.

Jackets and cover ups

Unless you’re heading to a beach wedding in tropical climes, then you’re likely to need a cover-up for your semi-formal look. Look for blazers, belted styles, draped ponchos and wraps.

For more ideas take a look at how to cover up a formal outfit.

Semi formal jackets for women |

ANINE BING Quinn BlazerKaren Millen Drape Detail Belted Soft BlazerNordstrom Shimmer WrapNordstrom Cotton & Cashmere High-Low Poncho

Floral dress and blazer |

ANINE BING Quinn BlazerTed Baker London Abriee Floral Puff Sleeve Handkerchief Hem Midi DressMIA Muna Block Heel SandalANINE BING Colette BagANINE BING Link Ball Drop Earrings

dresses and skirts

A dress is always a beautiful choice for a special occasion, but if you prefer separates, you could also choose a skirt. Look for dresses or skirts with draping, in satin, silk, lace or with a stylish print.

Semi formal dresses and skirts |

ANINE BING Samantha DressTed Baker London Abriee Floral Puff Sleeve Handkerchief Hem Midi DressEliza J Lace Asymmetric Cocktail DressOpen Edit Asymmetric Satin Midi Skirt

Semi formal attire for women - Rita wears a floral dress |

Rita @ritapalazzi above (read her style interview here) chooses a floral midi dress with a square neckline. She matches her earrings to the flowers in her dress.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress (other options here, here and here), pumps and earrings.


You don’t have to stick to dresses and skirts for your semi-formal outfits. Pants, particularly wide legs, can add drama to your look.

Semi formal pants for women |

ANINE BING Classic PantSteve Madden Addy Plissé PantsANINE BING Carrie PantKaren Millen Pleat Detail Wide Leg Trouser

Print top and pants outfit |

Ted Baker London Jamyna Metallic Abstract Floral BlouseANINE BING Classic PantMassimo Dutti MulesCOACH Luna Soft Pebble Leather Shoulder BagBaubleBar Evie NecklaceANINE BING Link Ball Drop Earrings


Choose a pair of special shoes to really make your outfit stand out, and ensure you look ready for an event rather than a business meeting. You can choose heels or flats, either open or closed toe, just make sure that your shoes are as beautiful as the rest of your outfit.

Shoes to go with your semi formal outfits |

ANINE BING Invisible SandalsMassimo Dutti MulesMIA Muna Block Heel SandalVeronica Beard Lisa Pointed Toe Pump

Kim in a polka dot dress |

Kim @kimair (read her style interview here) opts for a polka dot dress. Polka dots are particularly on trend this season, as you can see in our round-up of the best trends for spring and summer 2023.

Check out this dress (other options here and here) that you can wear with this similar pair of sandals, handbag (another option here), earrings and sunglasses.


Your accessories will really finish your outfit. You’re likely to want a small carry handle or clutch bag to fit in your essentials. And, add a stylish pair of earrings and an on-trend necklace.

Accessories for your semi formal outfits |

COACH Luna Soft Pebble Leather Shoulder BagANINE BING Colette BagNina Gelsey Crystal Embellished MinaudièreBaubleBar Evie NecklaceANINE BING Link Ball Drop Earrings

Yellow suit for women |

Karen Millen Drape Detail Belted Soft BlazerKOBI HALPERIN Liv Stretch Silk BlouseKaren Millen Pleat Detail Wide Leg TrouserMIA Muna Block Heel SandalNina Gelsey Crystal Embellished MinaudièreBaubleBar Evie NecklaceANINE BING Link Ball Drop Earrings

Your semi-formal attire for women together in one capsule

Below, you can see some of the clothes, shoes and accessories together in one capsule. You could easily alter the level of formality of each outfit to suit the occasion. Then, you can get more wear out of these options by wearing with your more casual day-to-day looks.

For example, you could wear any of the tops and blazers with your favorite jeans. Or you could wear your denim jacket with the floral dress.

Semi-formal capsule wardrobe |

shop the semi formal attire for women outfits below:

Continue reading:

  1. What To Wear To A Cocktail Party
  2. The Best Casual Party Outfits That Make An Impact
  3. How To Dress When You Are The Mother Of The Bride (Or Groom)

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Semi formal attire for women - what the dress code means and when to wear it |

Feature image by Cathy @themiddlepageblog


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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