{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise

November 29, 2017

Hello there! I just came back recently from a New Zealand cruise with the Diamond Princess (stories to come!) and I want to share some outfit ideas and tips with you on what to wear for a cruise formal night. I actually thought of this topic while I was cruisin' ha ha. To give you some background, I've been on 5 cruises to date, with some of the major lines. And every time when I go on a cruise, I always find myself struggling on what to bring so that I don't end up packing my entire closet in a suitcase. If you're new to #cruiselife, you'll probably wonder what you should bring and wear on board too. Especially when your travel agent tells you that there are X number of formal nights...

But, don't worry! Here's a compilation of few of my outfits from different cruises and some of the things I learned about formal dinner attire on a cruise to give you some ideas.



{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise
Floral midi skirt as seen here.

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise

Pick a versatile pair of evening shoes

Coordinate your outfits so that the same pair of evening shoes could match. That way, you could free up some luggage space for other items. This is particular important for me and what I've been trying to do more on recent cruises. I often travel elsewhere prior or after the cruise so it has become a no brainer for me to pack light. A heavy suitcase is the last thing I want to lug around when I travel! But, on the contrary, you'll require a lot of different attire when you're on board. So, something I could wear repeatedly is now a key to win a space in my suitcase.

For example: You could coordinate a colour scheme so that you could wear the same evening shoes for all formal nights. A pair of black pumps are very versatile and could easily go with any kind of outfits. If I plan to wear something more vibrant or with prints on it, I'd prefer to stick with my neutral colour pumps such as silver or nude. And if you are planning to wear a long evening gown, chances are nobody could see what you're wearing underneath the dress, so repeating the same pair of pumps is really something worth to consider.

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise

In this picture above, I wore a simple open-back dress with a pair of metallic silver pumps to match my silver necklace. I wore the same pair of shoes again (below) with a long printed chiffon dress on another formal night. Both of these are completely different looks from one another but with the same pair of evening shoes.

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise
Chiffon evening dress as seen here

Accessorize with jewelries for different looks

This is where I could glamourize to have different looks each formal night. There are photographers on board to take pictures of you in the dining room and in their studio. These photos are usually done in portrait style, meaning they are taken from waist upwards. So, I like to accessorize with a bold bling or a statement necklace to create a more dramatic effect and adds variants each time on pictures. By simply wearing different accessories, it really emphasizes a style change and creates an unique look.

Step up your hair game

Hair is not my area of expertise to be honest but I do make an effort to change up my hair to correspond to the kind of outfit I wear. Some people might prefer to leave their hair the way it is. But for me, however, I treat it as one of the components to complete a look and to keep things more interesting and formal. On one night, I'd put my hair straight down. On another, I'd curl it and put it on one side. Then, on another night, I'd put it up in a bun and accessorize with a hair piece or a pair of bold earrings. You'll be surprised just how a simple hair style change could dramatically change the visual appearance.

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise

Be wary of fabric choice and form

Trust me on this. #Cruiselife is wonderful yet very dangerous, especially during sea days. Because all you do is eat, eat and eat. Cruise has like unlimited supply of food for you! If you order 5 appetizers to start and all 3 entrees? Nobody's there to judge you except maybe the seams of your dress that might be about to burst open. So for this reason, it is best to wear something stretchy and roomy at a formal night. My fabric of choice is chiffon. It is light, flowy and usually not very form fitting. Or I'd also go with a stretchier material so I don't have to loosen up a button or two after my meal.

And often times, there might be performances or shows that you need to catch immediately after your meal. So, you might not even have time to change into your comfy wear. But with a careful consideration of material for your formal wear, you could wear it for an extended period of time and could save you from getting suffocated in your attire any time.

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise
This gold evening dress I actually wore at my own wedding (not my wedding gown). It looks very fitted and everyone thought it was custom made, but in fact the material is very comfortable and stretchy.

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise
I wore this chiffon evening dress while cruising in Europe

Bring a shawl, not your coat

You really don't need to carry a coat to the dining room even if you're on an Alaskan cruise. The temperature inside the ship is often monitored and controlled to maintain a certain degree. The only time where you might need something to cover up, is probably the time when you walk outside across decks to reach different parts of the ship. Otherwise, I'd suggest you to leave your coat at home and wear a shawl or stole to your dinner instead and save some space in your suitcase. 


Pick up clues from your cruise line departure locations 

Depending on your cruise line and departure location, you could probably pick up some indications as to whether you should dress up or down at formal nights. In the past, I found that generally cruises departing from Asia tend to be less formal in their dining room attire. A simple cocktail dress down to knee length could suffice on most situations. Whereas for cruises departing from Europe or America, you might want to be a little bit more polished. Men in tuxedo, women in gowns are only typical for formal nights.

In the end, whatever you end up wearing should be something you're most comfortable with. The most important part of this is to have fun and enjoy looking good!

{Outfit Challenge} What to Wear for Formal Nights on a Cruise


Happy cruisin'!

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About [span]me[/span]
Hello, my name is Lorita. This is a journal of my personal style, travel adventures, food excursions, recipe experiments, DIY tutorials and every little thing in life.


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