We have been around since the 1920s. The occasions for wearing them have grown and changed over the intervening years. Today, they come in such a wide range of styles that almost any occasion is a good time to wear one.
These differ from formal dresses in that they have shorter hems and do not include all of the fancy frills. They are much more versatile and can be worn to many different types of occasions.
One common type of semi formal is known as a cocktail dress. These dresses are appropriate for wear in the evening when going out to a club or attending a party with friends or family. They are not as elaborate as a formal, but they are more luxurious than casual or work wear.
If one is attending a wedding for a friend or family member and is not part of the bridal party, semi-formal dresses are the appropriate choice. The bridal party will be wearing formal gowns. Everyone else should be dressed in informal wear. Because of the solemnity of the ceremony, casual wear is frowned upon unless chosen by the couple getting married.
Other types of ceremonial gathering, such as a baptism, bat mitzvah, or others are also appropriate places to wear semiformal dresses. This type of clothing is worn as a symbol of respect for the one for whom the ceremony is being held.
Any type of awards ceremony or banquet that does not specify “black tie” or formal wear is an appropriate place for this type of dress. If one has ever watched an awards ceremony on television, he/she has seen many different types of formal dresses being worn on the red carpet by celebrities. If the audience was shown, one also saw the wives of celebrities and those who bought tickets to the event dressed in this style.
This is not an appropriate style to wear to work. There are certain rules for dressing in a business fashion that preclude many of the softer, more luxurious fabrics that are used in the manufacture of semi formals. One would also not want to dress semi formally to attend a casual get together. While a cocktail dress might be appropriate, anything fancier would make one completely overdressed and tend to alienate her from other members of the group.
As a general rule, any occasion that is not work related, casual, or listed as formal wear required and is after 5 pm is an accepted occasion for semi formal dresses. This includes going out on a date or out to eat at a family restaurant. Any time one desires to “dress up” is a good time.
In many cases, semiformal dresses are worn to worship services as well. Some of these may have longer hems and be more modestly cut than ones made for evening wear. However, most people do not adhere to a black tie dress code when attending church. Instead, they dress up in semi formal wear out of respect for their church and deity.