What to wear for a cruise formal night – six fashion dos and don’ts

Formal nights on a cruise ship brings a special kind of excitement. How often do you get to break out your fanciest attire and feel like a celebrity for the evening?

Even if dressing up isn’t your usual thing, it can still be a lot of fun to participate in cruise formal night. If you’re wondering what to wear, don’t stress. The dress code on most cruise lines isn’t too strict. 

After all, it’s your vacation. You should wear whatever makes you feel your best. Here are six dos and don’ts to help you find the perfect outfit for formal night on your next cruise. 

1) Do wear gowns and tuxedos

If you’re not familiar with dress code lingo, it can be hard to know what “formal” really means. Generally, formal cruisewear means black-tie clothing. 

For women, black-tie attire means elegant, floor-length evening gowns and glamorous jewelry. For men, a tuxedo is the way to go.

If you don’t own a tux, some cruise lines offer rentals for convenience. This can be a cost-effective way to join in on the fun. After all, who doesn’t love good cruise deals

2) Do wear blazers

If you’re a guy who prefers a less formal look, you can opt for a less formal suit or just a nice blazer instead. Pair it with dress pants, a nice button-down shirt, and shiny shoes. Adding a tie would make the look more formal, but that’s up to you. 

3) Do wear cocktail dresses

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of packing your finest ballgown, a nice cocktail dress will work just fine for formal night. A little black dress would be a good option, especially if you dress it up with heels and jewelry. 

To keep it looking elegant, don’t show off too much skin. According to Sherri Hill, cocktail dresses should reach about knee-length or just above, and necklines shouldn’t be too daring. 

4) Don’t wear jeans

We’re sure it doesn’t need to be said, but jeans are just a little too laid back for a formal dinner. This goes for both men and women. 

5) Don’t wear shorts

Formal shorts just aren’t a thing. Any outfit with shorts is going to look more like it belongs out by the pool rather than in the formal dining room. 

6) Don’t wear flip flops

We get it, you’re on vacation. You don’t get to bust out these bad boys often enough, but save your flip flops for the rest of your trip. Besides, you don’t want to be tracking sand from that morning’s beach excursion all over the place. 

Enjoy cruise formal night to the fullest

A cruise formal night is all about having fun, so don’t feel too restricted by the dress code. Anything from black tie to business casual can work for most cruise lines. Whether you opt for a tailcoat or your best Hawaiian shirt, choose an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable. 

Photo by Peter Hansen