What does "black tie" or "formal attire" really mean for women? You're best bet is to stick with a dark cocktail dress, a long evening gown, or a dressy suit in dark or neutral colors like navy, black and gray. If you have a formal beach wedding coming up, not to worry. I'm tackling that topic next week.
Just because the invitation says formal, doesn't mean your look has to be boring. Black tie and formal dressing is all about drama and excitement. Wear dark colors and strong silhouettes for gravitas but don't forget to add in some playfulness in your accessories with hints of color, texture and shine.
Finally, if yon't attend enough of black tie or formal functions to invest in something new but have one coming up? Consider renting a formal dress. The options for women are so much better than tuxedo rental for men. An amazing resource for designer dresses and jewelry for formal events is Rent the Runway (they even take care of the dry cleaning!).