Confessions of a Bond Girl: Killer Dresses for a Black Tie Event

My blood red stiletto ripped through the villain’s throat and as he sank to the floor I made a clean cut through the thick ropes around James’ neck. Bond...
Black Tie Dresses
Black Tie Dresses

My blood red stiletto ripped through the villain’s throat and as he sank to the floor I made a clean cut through the thick ropes around James’ neck. Bond was knocked out, pale as snow, and barely breathing, but I dragged him inch by inch, off the slimy dock and into the speedboat. They were on our tail, but I still took a moment to check that the diamond bracelet was in my pocket. No wonder people killed for this. It sparkled like the city before us.

Steering straight across the dark, choppy Thames I finally spotted our helicopter. Only 6 hours from now we’d be rich and free, sipping Martinis on the beach. Oh, James.

Bam! I was shaken (not stirred) out of my bewitching fantasy by a sudden realization. There would be no sexy Bond and no glamorous tuxedo party in London because I HAD NOTHING TO WEAR.

I had almost choked on my cappuccino a bit earlier when I noticed something wildly exciting in the program for the New Media Europe conference:

A Black Tie Gala.

Wow! My dream life was finally happening. My life as a suburban mom running an online business would be put on hold for an evening and I’d be back in magical London Town where I once trod my well shod heels as a fashion designer. No more burning the toast while listening to Entrepreneur On Fire. It was finally time for ME to Ignite! I could see myself setting the dance floor on fire wearing a red hot little number – but what was that number exactly?

What the hell should I wear to the Black Tie Party?

The etiquette rules for what to wear to a Black Tie/Tuxedo Event can be completely confusing! Depending on the time of day, the position of the moon, and the number of people on your email list it could be either of these:

A. Long Gown

B. Short Cocktail Dress

C. Party Dress

I got in touch with lovely hostess Izabela Russell to hear her interpretation and her answer was absolutely fabulous:

“I think B and C will both be fine – A may be a bit more complex but fine too. I want people to have plenty of fun so they should wear what works best for them within those realms.”

Yippie. We can break the rules and have fun! Lady Mary from Downton Abbey won’t be there to look down her nose at our dresses and roll her eyes at our lack of long gloves and ancient etiquette.

Still let’s take a closer look at those official rules. That invitation from Her Majesty might arrive any day now and I want to look like a royal princess when I curtsy.

The Long Gown

The dressiest Black Tie option is a floor length opulent dress, which would also be perfect for the even more formal White Tie affair. But for dress code Black Tie there is no need for long gloves, tiaras, or a puffy ball gown. You can think Sleek Hollywood, Sexy Monte Carlo, or Modern Royalty instead.

Long maxi dresses are everywhere this year but how do you know if a dress is fancy enough for a formal evening party?

Go for dressy fabrics such as silk, satin, or velvet and ask yourself: Will this dress make me look and feel like a star when I’m dancing with Bond?

long evening gown

The Cocktail Dress

A great cocktail dress is smart and elegant affair made from a sensual fabric, and it’s often decorated with gorgeous lace, sequins, beads, or embroideries. Traditionally it’s a knee length dress but these days you can definitely go shorter.

There are lots of amazing variations to choose from that will show off your unique style and personality. You can also choose a minimalistic style and dress it up with sparkly jewelry and gorgeous evening shoes.

cocktail dress The Party Dress

Your favorite party dress can be a great idea for a black tie event, but how do you know if your dress is appropriate?

It might be easiest to rule out the kinds of dresses that would NOT get you the best–dressed list:

  1. A dress you would wear to the beach.
  2. Something suitable for the office.
  3. A snazzy music video number.
  4. Anything made from a cheap fabric.

Don’t forget that the other ladies might be wearing elegant long gowns and sparkly short dresses, and the fact that it usually feels better to be over dressed than under dressed.

party dress

The Underdog

Nothing beats the elegance of a gorgeous lady in a well–fitting tuxedo that is perfectly tailored to her body. A long skirt or palazzo pants are great options when the fabric and decorations are nothing short of dazzling.


Picking some amazing accessories is your chance to elevate your outfit and look more glamorous ever before!

Evening sandals or high, sexy heels are terrific choices, but could kill your feet if you’re not used to sky high footwear. Satin shoes can be a great solution as they come in flats, kitten heels, as well as stiletto height.

Now is the time to light the sparklers jewelry wise. The crown jewels are out of reach for most of us, but you can find gorgeous high quality costume pieces in fashion stores. Beautiful classics like gold and pearls is another wonderful idea.

Just a couple of eye-catching pieces looks classy because you can add a small evening purse to act as another piece of jewelry.

Who are YOU?

Bond Babe, Rock Chick, or Bohemian?

We’ve looked at basic dress shapes for each of the Black Tie categories but let’s inject some color, life and personality! There are more possibilities than stars on the red carpet so you can definitely find a Black Tie outfit that’s absolutely perfect for you.

Here are 9 unique looks for 9 exciting types of women.

What would YOU wear?

Tell us in the comments below.

Bond Babe

Swing Out Sister

Pop Princess

Rock Chic

The Bombshell

9- Lady Boss (1)


All That Jazz

Screen Siren

All photos via
Hilde FossenWritten by: Hilde Fossen

Hilde Fossen is a fashion designer turned online stylist who shows women entrepreneurs how to nail their style and branding so they can wow their audience and sell more.

If you want ideas about what to wear to the conference you can get 3 super easy outfit formulas especially for women biz owners at


Izabela a co-founder of New Media Europe and the head of a UK based audio branding company - Music Radio Creative. Working with over 4500 clients, spread across 197 different countries each year.