S is for Separates for Evening

Most of us occasionally need to dress for a formal evening event: A concert, a special celebration, a wedding — the possibilities are many and we’re usually caught with nothing to wear and, too often, little money to spend.

There will always be occasions, like a family wedding, that require us to shop. But most of us can make dressing for formal events much easier by using garments we already own and a little advance preparation. All we need is a few separates for evening. (And chances are, we already own some or all of what we need.)

First, identify one or two of the skirts or trousers you’d already wear to an office or meeting. With a little forethought, either of these skirts from The Five Pieces Rule can be part of an evening outfit.

r fo rules- black skirt r fo rules brown skirt

Add a matching cami, tank or shell…


evening separates cami 1 (1)evening separates cami 2 (1)

…and an accessory evening top or jacket. (I usually wear a cami for comfort even if the jacket provides adequate coverage.)

evening separates top 1 (1)evening separates top 4 evening separates top 5 (1)


Add a new or vintage evening blouse. (The tunic would work over a pencil skirt or trousers and would dress up jeans.)

evening separates vintage top 1 evening separates vintage top 2evening separates blouse 1 (1) evening separates blouse 2 (1)

A couple of caveats:

  • Though black is easier to match than most colours, there are many different blacks. Unless you need endless black tops, be certain to wear the piece you are trying to match (or, snip off a bit from a seam or the hem, if possible, seal it in a plastic sandwich bag, and carry it with you).
  • Look at your current piece and the new top together under natural light, particularly if you can’t (or won’t) return the item. Don’t settle for “good enough.” Try to shop in advance. (I’m often surprised to find exactly what I want when I’m not looking. Usually, it’s on sale or at a thrift shop.)
  • Matching other colours is easier with some advance research on the internet. But do wear the piece or snip a sample from a seam or at the hem.
  • Get a second opinion from a friend (or even a stranger in a shop) when matching colours.
  • Do look in the lingerie department. If a cami is cut low but has adjustable shoulder straps, just shorten the straps until the neckline provides adequate coverage. Also since dye produces richer, truer colours on satin and silk (often used in lingerie), differences in colour are usually apparent.

evening separates top 1 (1)Finally, this top is my all time favourite! It works with every colour. Over a cami, a shell, or even a 3/4 sleeve blouse in thin silk, linen, or cotton it’s perfectly covered. I’d wear it over an LBD, a white shirt, or a richly contrasting coloured shirt/top/dress. It creates evening outfits and other special occasion (or occasions when I want to feel special) outfits. This would be one of my keep-forever accessory pieces. Pieces like this can be found in discount, consignment, and thrift shops and are great separates for evening.

Stay tuned for more on separates for evening and unexpected pieces.

2 thoughts on “S is for Separates for Evening

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