Plan your outfits for spring events early, say two of Morgantown’s formalwear experts.
Right along with the wildflowers that are suddenly decorating our West Virginia hills, formal events like proms, graduations, and weddings are beginning to pop up.
From pastels to jewel tones and florals to prints, women are donning garments and accessories that make a statement— while men are having their fair share of fun with shades of blue, patterns, and plaids.
No matter what event you find yourself planning for this season, two trusted community staples, Coni & Franc and Daniel’s of Morgantown, are here help you assemble a perfectly curated outfit that will rise to the occasion.
Coni & Franc
No two garments at Coni & Franc are exactly alike. With a large but selective inventory of hand-picked fashion pieces ranging from bold and dazzling to classic and timeless, the store’s staff can help clients find just the right outfits while ensuring their looks are one-of-a-kind.
“Coni & Franc specializes in having clothing choices in a wide size range that are not found in other stores or online,” says Connie Merandi, who owns the shop with her husband, Frank. “We do not pick the styles that are heavily advertised; rather, we have clothing and accessories that are special and found in small boutiques.”
But whether you settle on a floor-length gown, a cocktail dress, or a jumpsuit or pantsuit, finding the right garment is just one piece of the formalwear puzzle. Equally important to choosing an outfit is ensuring that it offers a flattering fit. Merandi encourages customers to start shopping a few months in advance to allow time for tailoring and personal design changes—although her staff can also accommodate last-minute shoppers on their quests to look their best. And while walk-ins are always welcome, Merandi recommends making an appointment to ensure a stress-free shopping experience. “It is most advantageous to let our Coni & Franc staff know the event information so that we are ready for your arrival and can help you find the perfect selection,” she says.
Formalwear options suit a variety of budgets, and layaway is also available. “The budget should include everything from the skin out: foundations, clothing, accessories, etcetera,” Merandi counsels shoppers. Dresses for weddings and graduations vary in price, with starting prices of $175 for short styles and $225 for long styles, while full-length prom gowns range from $220 to $650. Accessories can go from $25 to $325. “Complete the look and choose items that are versatile, good investments that can be used again with future outfits.”
This season, Merandi says almost anything goes: formfitting and free-flowing silhouettes, long and short hemlines, on-the-shoulder and off-the-shoulder necklines, and bell sleeves and cap sleeves, as well as beaded and sequined details.
Additionally, incorporating accessories such as earrings, necklaces, cuffs, rings, handbags, and wraps can make a statement by bringing personality to your ensemble. “These must be considered and chosen as carefully as the garment to properly reflect the person wearing them,” Merandi says. “These things play an important role in the image the customer wants to project. When you change up your accessories, you can re-invent the look to reflect your own style and not look the same as someone else.” A good handbag is a fun and often striking accessory to add style and finish, she says. “When you choose a beautiful purse, it marks your spot at the table and says a little about who you are.”
And don’t forget the shoes.
“If the ensemble is simple, then the shoes can make a statement. But if the outfit is elaborate, it is often better to select a shoe that does not draw as much attention,” Merandi says.
“We advise our clients to wear a comfortable heel height for them so that they can keep their shoes on, smile, walk, stand, and dance.”
To plan an outfit around unpredictable spring weather— especially for outdoor venues—Merandi suggests dressing in layers and always having an umbrella on hand. “Good choices in unpredictable situations are dresses with jackets that can be removed if necessary,” she says. “Keep a scarf on hand if you should need just a light wrap. A soft sweater or a lighter-weight evening jacket that can adapt to different conditions are also good options.”
With seemingly endless possibilities, styles, and factors to consider, choosing the right formalwear can overwhelming. But with the help of expert stylists, that doesn’t have to be the case.
“The shopper who comes to Coni & Franc can experience different styles they might not ever think would work for them, and people are continuously surprised at the possibilities,” Merandi says. “Our trained sales staff can make the process easy by suggesting appropriate styles that will work for your specific event and body type.” 422 High Street, 304.296.9466, coniandfranc.net, @conifranc on Facebook
Daniel’s of Morgantown
Whether you’re a working professional looking to add some class to your wardrobe, a guest at a black tie wedding, or a high schooler ready to make a lasting impression at prom, the staff at Daniel’s of Morgantown is prepared to keep you looking sharp this spring.
“When you walk through the door, somebody will greet you and walk you through the entire process,” owner Phil Mauser says. “And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, we will pick your brain and make it happen so that you leave here with something you’re happy with.”
Mauser suggests visiting the store at least two weeks in advance of an event in order to take measurements and allow for tailoring, but says he and his staff are also equipped to work under pressure. “We know how gentlemen sometimes operate, which is why we have our own inventory so that we can tailor your outfit right here in the store and often turn things around in one day or even on the same day.”
Depending on the attire a client is interested in, Mauser says pricing can range from about $350 for a traditional tuxedo to over $1,000 for more creative, customized options. For someone who is a little hesitant to make a purchase, Mauser says formalwear can also be rented from the store starting at around $125, including everything you need to be dressed to the nines: shirt, vest, tie, coat, pants, and shoes.
“The nice thing about tuxedos is that they are pretty classic,” Mauser says. “Once you make an investment in one, styles don’t change too much. Most guys have one or two suits or sport coats in their closets that fit them well and they can wear to a range of events.”
The single most important thing when it comes to men’s formalwear, though, according to Mauser, is custom tailoring to ensure a proper, comfortable fit. “You don’t want to wear something that is ill-fitting,” he says. “No matter how nice the suit is, if it doesn’t fit you, it won’t look right.”
The venue of the event also plays a key role in determining the appropriate attire. “You don’t want to wear anything that will make the people holding the event upset or take the attention away from them,” he says. “For example, wearing a tux to a barn wedding doesn’t make sense. Lightweight trousers and a sport coat is better fitted for that circumstance.”
For events that allow for some creativity, more modern trends include tuxedo coats and dinner jackets in varying shades of colors like blue and red or patterns and plaids that maintain a classic look with black satin lapels.
And when it comes to accessories, don’t overlook the details, says Mauser. Luckily, Daniel’s makes this easy by offering everything you need to be expertly outfitted from head to toe.
“For men, we’ve got to think about things like watches, cuff links, shoes, belts, and ties,” Mauser says. “What we’re seeing a lot of right now are brighter colored ties and bow ties and brown shoes instead of black.”
Mauser also offered one other piece of sage advice: steer clear of pleated trousers. 2908 University Avenue, 304.296.7202, danielsofmorgantown.com, @danielsofmorgantown on Facebook
written by KAYLYN CHRISTOPHER
photographed by JULIAN WYANT