Tuxedos and gowns have long been the go-to staple for formal affairs, but black tie doesn’t have to be, well, so black and white. Donna Karan became famous for her Essentials line, seven pieces that could mix and match. Today, her house infuses simple hidden cutouts and minimal ruching to update the little black dress. On her arm, Oscar de la Renta and Dolce & Gabbana pushing boundaries of formality with slightly oversized bowties and skinnier, shinier lapels. Experimenting with the exquisite distinguishes you in the crowd.
J. EVERETTE PERRY. Models: Michelle Globis, Calvin Robbins, Max Ryder, and Jurgen Weiss. Hair and makeup: Ana Cetina Salon and Spa Palm Springs, Location provided by www.PBdevelops.com
Alexander McQueen orange spine lace cap sleeve dress ($1320) from Saks Fifth Avenue.