I shared my formal wear shopping strategy earlier this year. I’m purchasing ahead of time so that I’m optimally and calmly prepared for occasions that crop up. I seldom find the right items, at the right price, when I need them urgently. I almost always compromise on silhouette, colour, quality, or price when I’m forced to find something under pressure. So I’m buying the items as I see them.

This strategy has worked well for me. I’ve slowly found fab-for-me items at discounted prices that are within my means. None of them are a compromise. It began with a pair of Frame red velvet pants that I bought on sale a year ago. I had no specific occasion for them at the time of purchase, but I knew I’d wear them eventually. Ten months later I’ve had multiple opportunities to wear them, and it was wonderful to have them at the ready in my wardrobe. I love those pants and am reaching for them frequently.

I’ve done the same with a navy lace dress, a navy tulle skirt, a fancy polka dot blouse, a sparkly navy sweater, and cream patent dressy loafers. I’ve worn all the items except for the dress and polka dot blouse. I love these items and won’t tire of them.

If you know you have dressy events at some point in 2023, a similar strategy might work for you. At this time of year in the US, there is a large assortment of dressy items and formal wear available in stores, and even more online. Generally, merchandise is more covered, substantial, and less skimpy than the formal wear that is typically available in the Spring and Summer. It’s also a bit darker, because of the seasonal emphasis. If these are design details you can work with, keep potentially fab formal wear on your radar as you calmly browse and shop over the next few months. You’ll also find a lot of formal wear on sale, making it more affordable than you thought.

I’ve been waiting to buy the dressier items below at reduced prices from Polo Ralph Lauren. They went on sale on Black Friday and I pounced. I managed to get the horsey cardigan, which I wore with my navy tulle skirt to a holiday dinner last week and LOVED the combination. Unfortunately I missed the skirt, which sold out in a nanosecond. I hope that my size pops back into stock. If not, oh well! On to the next fab item.

I’ll continue to add to my formal capsule as the right items find me at my leisure, without pressure, and without compromise. I have a bright formal dress and non-black tuxedo pants suit on my shopping list. If I find them soon – fabulous. If I don’t, that’s fab too.