Fit To Be (Black) Tied

Where has summer gone? Didn’t we *just* get accustomed to easy sundresses and skin-baring glam? ::SIGH::

White House Invitation

Labor Day is upon us, but as we wave good-bye with BBQ salutes, it’s time to look ahead to autumn with excitement! Not only is September a fashion world explosion, but it’s also the start of fall “social season” in New York City! Charity dinners and auction invites and opera debuts – oh my! But…what does one wear to such events? Black tie? White tie? Cocktail attire? What’s a Budget Socialite to do?!

Not to worry – I’ve got you covered for every calligraphy laden invitation you’re about to get and ask me to attend with you. It’s not so tough afterall!

What’s it all mean?

Let’s start with some basic definitions.

  • White Tie: The most dressy and involved of the formal dress levels. You might hear it referred to as “tophat and tails” or simply, “tails”, referring to the long coat gentlemen wear that creates a…well…”tail” silhouette. Reserved for ULTRA formal occasions – think UN dinners, debutante balls, and super formal weddings. Ladies have only one option here: floor length formal gowns. Got a diamond tiara handy? This is the only time you might get away with wearing one outside your home. ::whispers:: So whip that bad boy out, sister! ***Shopping tip: Bloomingdales does an early fall clearance that is unbeatable for gowns. My favourite floor lengths silks danced their way from the sale rack to the Waldorf! Don’t miss this sale!***
  • Black-Tie: The most common formal dress code, though less intricate than White Tie. Gentlemen are required to be in tuxedos and ladies should don floor length gowns or cocktail length dresses. If you dare to do the Little Black Dress, it HAS to be your fanciest LBD ever…and I know you have one! The old stand-by won’t do here, Socialite. But…leave the tiara at home. Also, resist all urges to relive prom night: black cummerbunds on your escort are the preferred standard. (Did he choose plaid? Take your sister with you instead.)
  • Black-Tie Optional: For the gents, tuxedos are encouraged but not required, with a dark, well-tailored suit considered a perfectly acceptable alternative. You’ll see a mix of both choices on attendees. Ladies needn’t feel rooted to the floor length gown – you’ll see every length dress from floor to knee in the room. Your LBD still works, but can be less dressy, with your jewelry perhaps helping to make bold statements for you.
  • Cocktail Attire: Ladies hit their stride in this IDEAL Little Black Dress territory! It’s more fun than formal, and more sexy than stuffy, with elegance being the key. Nothing too formal or close to floor length, please. Gents, a dark suit and power tie are a MUST! Bright cufflinks all around!


  • The invite says “Black Tie” – can’t I just wear a dressy knee length dress?
    Technically, yes. However, Black Tie is a formal occasion. You might be alone in a sea of elegant floor length gowns, so research your crowd/venue and make sure you’re choosing a formal dress, even at knee length. Still in doubt? Ask your host or someone close to the party planning. Better to ask than show up and be embarrassed.
  • A gown and a dress are the same thing basically, right?
    No! A dress may be any length, but once we hit the floor, sister you’re in a gown! A gown is always formal, whereas a dress isn’t necessarily so.  Ever hear of a “casual gown”? A “flirty sungown”? I thought not.
  • These are old rules and customs. Does anyone care if I get it wrong? I mean really – it’s 2013. Pfft.
    Yes. Yes, people DO care – namely, your host.  As an invited guest to anything, it’s important to show the simple respect of following an established dress code, if one has been requested.  Still think it’s all nonsense? There’s no shame in declining an invitation. But…why would you willingly miss all that champagne?

Obviously, fashion is subjective and people interpret the rules as they may – it’s fun to bend them sometimes! But you have to know the rules to break them. The rules of formal dress lean towards classic style over fashion. To get even MORE technical, Wiki has some great point-by-point specifics. These are a general standard, meant to help you plan as you wade through the piles and stacks of RSVP cards that I just know await us you, Socialite!

See you next month!

The season approaches – are you dressed and ready? Have some formal dress tips? Let us know in the comments! 


Contributor | Eva Said It
Eva is a mother, writer, entertaining doyenne, and snark expert based in New York City. Money can’t buy happiness, but it buys her lots of wine and stinky cheese…which is close enough. Catch more of her stiletto clad sarcasm at www.evasaidit.com.




Top Fall Beauty Trends

fall beauty pic

Summer is coming to an end and Fall is just around the corner. The season is changing and so should your beauty products. The following Fall beauty trends were seen all over the runways and to get the looks at home, here are the top trends and product suggestions:

1.    Slick Hair and Skin:  Chilly Fall temperatures can cause your hair and skin to become extremely dry. That’s why it’s important to use products that moisturize, protect and rejuvenate. To accomplish these goals and to stay on trend, you can try:  Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant ($19.50,  www.elizabetharden.com), Alterna Caviar CC Cream for Hair 10-in-1 Complete Correction ($25, www.sephora.com), Marc Jacobs Beauty Genius Gel Super-Charged Foundation ($48, www.sephora.com), or Nars Skin Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer ($58, www.narscosmetics.com).

 2.   Matte Finish:  A porcelain, matte finish was all the rage on the runways and you can also have the look with any the following products:  Cover Girl Clean Whipped Creme Foundation ($7, at drugstores), Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose Powder ($28, www.sephora.com),, Cover FX Matte Setting Powder ($32www.sephora.com), JINsoon Nail Polish in “Matte Maker” ($18,  http://www.jinsoon.com/shop/jinsoon-nail-polish.html). Paint nails with a regular polish, then lay down a quarter-inch stripe of “Matte Maker”, only on the tips.  Tip: For a twist on black nails, paint nine nails with Butter London Nail Lacquer in “The Black Knight” ($15, www.sephora.com) and then paint one red accent nail.

 3.  Red Eyeshadow:  Red is the in-demand Fall makeup color! Some favorites are:  Cover Girl Flamed Out Shadow Pots in “Red Hot Flame” ($5, www.ulta.com), Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr Eyeshadow in “Pomegranate Punk” ($6, drugstores), M.A.C Eyeshadow in “Sushi Flower” ($15, www.maccosmetics.com) or Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes eyeliner in “Deep Burgandy Sheen” ($19www.sephora.com).

4.  Jewels and Glitter:  To add a touch of glitz and glamour, try the following:  Make Up For Ever Glitters in “Silver 2 – Metallic Silver” ($15, www.sephora.com),  Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer in “148 Glinda – Silver Glitter” ($18, www.sephora.com or M.A.C Pro Glitter in “Reflects Transparent Pink” ($21, www.maccosmetics.com).

5.   Red Matte Lips (including darker berries):  For beautiful, textured lips, try:  Colour Crush Lipstick in “Red Siren” ($13,  www.thebodyshop.com),  M.A.C. Chromagraphic Pencil in “Process Magenta” ($16, www.maccosmetics.com), Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in “8 Matte Bright Red” ($20www.sephora.com), Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in “Scarlet Red” or “Dragon Girl Siren Red” ($25, www.sephora.com), or Giorgio Armani Rouge D’Armani lipstick in “409” ($30, http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/Giorgio-Armani/Beauty-and-Fragrance/For-Her/Makeup/Lips/shop/_/N-1z12vlwZ52fqs2/Ne-6lvnb5).

Tip:  Typically, light skin or olive skin tones look great wearing tomato red or orange-red lipstick. Typically, dark skin looks great wearing a true red (aka neutral red) or a blue-red (lipstick has a blue undertone). A true red can also be worn by all. Don’t forget the liner (fill in entire lips). It prevents the lipstick from bleeding and it lasts longer. It should match the lipstick. If you have discolored lips, you can apply a thin layer of concealer to create an even base, gently blot and then apply the liner and lipstick. 

6.    Big Hair:  Big, sexy hair is back and you can get the look with any of the following:  Living Proof Amp2 Instant Texture Volumizer ($24, www.sephora.com), Alterna Bamboo Volume 48-Hour Sustainable Volume Spray ($25, www.sephora.com) , or Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full Form Mousse ($29, www.sephora.com).

7.    Cropped hair:  Cropped hair is always in season and this Fall is no exception. To get the look, try:  Kevin Murphy Super.Goo ($22, www.exclusivebeautyboutique.com), Bumble and Bumble Sumotech ($27, www.sephora.com), or Bumble and Bumble BB Texture Hair (Un) Dressing Creme ($28, www.sephora.com).

What’s your favorite Fall beauty trend? We want to know!


Contributor | Holly Miller
Holly Byrd Miller, owner of Makeup By Holly is a 15 year makeup artistry veteran. Located in Richmond, VA her services include Bridal, TV, Runway, Fashion shows and Photo shoots. Holly also freelances for Giorgio Armani and is a Certified Makeup Instructor

{Food & Entertaining}

9 Healthy BBQ sides

Healthy BBQ Sides

This has been the summer of gluttony. After a few months of healthy eating and juicing, I fell from grace hard. No cupcakes have been left behind. No burgers spared. Hot Dogs. Cheese. Bread. Pizza. Ice Cream. Milkshakes…. were all consumed without a lick of guilt or regard. And damn it was glorious, but now it’s time for me to buckle down; before I can longer buckle at all.

I’m sure YOU, my dear reader ate like the guru of health and self-resistance I know you are. I bow before thee and I offer up these 9 Healthy BBQs sides to bring to your next soiree, so that you may forgive my trespasses. I hope you and the buttons of my skinny jeans keep the faith and hold out a little longer because I’m getting back on track, I pinky swear!

Healthy BBQ Sides

  1. Sun-Dried Tomato and Chili-Walnut Layered Dip
  2. Carrot and Apple Slaw
  3. Arugula, Potato, and Green Bean Salad with Walnut Dressing
  4. Watermelon Cucumber Feta Salad
  5. Veggie Cakes Recipe With Chard, Ricotta And Saffron
  6. Lean, Mean Mac Salad
  7. Green Beans With Pistachio Pesto
  8. Grilled Corn Salad
  9. Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Writer’s note: Week 2 of being back on my green juice and smoothie kick. My skin is starting to get back that magic glow and my jeans are less snug. Who woulda thunk it? Eating right is the best beauty secret there is.

(Image Sources: Fit Sugar | Martha Stewart | Skinny Taste | Real Simple | Food Republic | Self)

What are your favorite healthy BBQ sides? Have any tips for getting back on track after getting badly? Let us know in the comments.


Co-founder | Trinidad Pena
Trinidad Pena is a blogger, foodie, and design superhero bent on helping others kick-ass online, world domination and convincing the world that wine belongs in the fruit food group since it’s made from grapes.