Most fund-raisers and award functions in Southern California and Arizona where I’ve lived have cocktail attire black tie suggested as a dress code any more. In my experience only rarely, is formal black tie really required. It’s always lovely to see your man in a tux but hemlines are flexible.
Once upon a time in 1992 I was browsing in the Sacks Fifth Ave, in Pasadena after my shift at California Pizza Kitchen. I was barely a woman at 20 years old and I fell in love with a classic black gown. It was the most beautiful fabric but started at a 4 digit price. That price had been slashed with red pen into an amount that I made in a month’s time. Since I was young and passionate I bought it! I had a sorority winter formal upcoming and it was lovely. It was the first gown I’d bought with my own money. It elegantly presented the classic feminine physique so I have kept it all these years.
When Andy invited me to a southern black tie party for the National Space Club’s 25th Anniversary dinner, I pulled out my beautiful black gown. I decided it needed and update so a quick nip and tuck in alterations with Danese Creations, Scylvia a woman who has more style in her pinkie than all the women on my block. (and I live in a stylish neighborhood!) I wore my classic black dress, this week (22 years later) with delight. I had to lighten my cup for 3 weeks before the party but wearing my college dress was fair compensation for giving up snacks and full meals.