Asian woman in sequin gown getting out of black car.

There’s an old saying that beauty is pain. High heels, tight corsets, itchy pantyhose, and formal outfits may look great, but they don’t always feel great. In today’s zeitgeist where being beautiful supposedly means being yourself, where does feeling ill at ease in finery fall in? Can you truly look good when you’re warm and itchy all over?

You can’t wear jeans and tank tops forever. Your sister might get married one day and refuse to let you wear sweatpants. You might have a that requires a suit. Formal outfits aren’t always avoidable, but you can improve the experience with these tips.

1. Fit for Comfort

Several factors influence an outfit’s comfort level. There’s fit, material, overall style, and, to some extent, personal confidence. We cover them all in this article, but let's start with fit. Some people prefer loose duds, while others move better in figure-hugging garments.

That said, ideally, you should also wear the right size. An A-line gown may be roomy, but you won’t do yourself any favors if you pick two sizes too big. Likewise, an overly tight blazer would restrict movement. A tailored fit is usually the way to go. This way, you can adjust to how you move as well as your preferences.

2. Choose Your Fabric

Do you find formal outfits stuffy? Stay away from fabrics like wool, neoprene, polyester, or velvet. Apart from being heat traps, these materials also usually have no give, which might make you feel constrained if you’re not used to formal wear. 

People with more laidback personal styles should opt for softer textiles like chiffon, crepe, and jersey. Certain types of silk and satin are also very comfortable (and ). However, they’re usually unforgiving of perceived flaws, which may make you more self-conscious.

If you don't sacrifice comfort for fashion – which is probably the case since you’re reading this article – then skip over scratchy options. Forget ruffles, anything with organza, and sequin details. You should also check the seams inside the outfit. Stiff stitching can irritate your skin.

3. Stick With Your Style

Are you more inclined towards a minimalist style? You probably shouldn’t commit to over-the-top details such as full beading and large flounces. Try not to fit a square peg into a round hole. You can find formal outfits that can match your personal preferences.

Study the designs of Mark Bumgarner if you love glamour or Patty Ang for understated elegance. Kate Torralba nails the quirky aesthetic well, while Francis Libiran is revered for his intricate details. Charina Sarte is good for . You don’t have to invest in high-end designers for comfort but know that you can translate your tastes into formal wear.

4. Choose Your Battles

There will be cases where you must comply with a specific dress code. For example, if you’re part of the and the bride says, “frilly pink lace gowns,” you wouldn’t want to be the one to cause drama. If you can’t be comfortable with the attire, then make up for it with the other aspects of your outfit. Choose comfortable shoes, like kitten heels, over sky-high stilettos. Instead of a rigid bouffant, try or a .

5. Flatter Your Body

While society has taken great strides in , not everyone can say they’re – let alone formal outfits. Concentrate on the parts you love and highlight them. Do you want to flaunt the Beyonce-esque derriere you worked so hard for? Do you want people to focus on your legs? Filter your options based on what makes you feel more confident.

These styles generally complement most shapes, though you may have to try them on to see how you feel:

  • Fit and flare dresses
  • Tailored pantsuits
  • Wrap dresses
  • Trapeze dresses

6. Enjoy Your Beauty Prep

According to , self-care rituals, such as wearing makeup or practicing a skincare regimen, can boost your confidence temporarily – perhaps long enough to get you through the period you’re in formal garb.

Take the time to spoil yourself. For example, draw a bath and pamper yourself with your favorite body wash. Dove Go Fresh Cucumber & Green Tea Body Wash offers 24-hour hydration, keeping you fresh even in stuffy clothing. Or you can make your skin glow with Dove Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash. It has exfoliating beads that bring out your complexion’s natural radiance and NutriumMoisture™ technology, which restores the nutrients you lost during cleansing. Beautiful, healthy skin is the perfect accessory for any attire.

Whether in formal outfits or cut-offs and a threadbare shirt, the first rule is to . It’s the fastest way to feel comfortable.