Black tie doesn’t have to be a painful inconvenience this May Week

Ladies, we have endured enough. I’m here to help.

black tie Cambridge Fashion cambridge life cambridge style may balls May Week

May Week. The idea of it is probably the reason you’ve made it this far in the first place. After our many hours (kinda) of revision, there’s no need to subject ourselves to more pain.

When attending May Balls, remember: you have paid a fortune to enjoy the evening. Dressing for the occasion should enhance rather than detract from the experience. Whilst in theory this may sound straight forward, in reality, the art of navigating a black tie dress code is rather more complex. Alas, fear not, The Tab is on hand to help. Here’s your guide to the ultimate combination of style and comfort for May Week 2016.

The Shoes

The main offenders. Particularly those of the stiletto variety have a lot to answer for. Over the years, they have proven to be a popular but poor choice of footwear for black tie events. You know you’ll be dying to take them off by the time you get there. The blister on your right foot’s little toe is already developing. You can feel straps eating into your skin. The blood flow to your feet is rapidly ceasing…

The arguments for breaking off the toxic relationship with your high heels really are overwhelmingly strong. However, there are two pros that inhibit a woman’s ability to reason logically: A) Height gains B) Legs at least half as long as those of Karlie Kloss. By the end of the night however, when not even the sea of alcohol sloshing through your system is enough to numb the pain shooting through your feet, logical reasoning tends to come back with a kick. Heels, much like a cheating boyfriend, always promise a fresh start, nothing ever changes, but you’re attached and you keep going back. So the cycle goes on. Why have we not learnt from our mistakes? How can we escape this cycle?

The solution is simple: wedges. Yes, flats are an option, but this is very much the other side of the extreme. Addictions should be cured gradually. I know what you’re thinking, wedges and black tie? They just don’t go. Wrong. You’re wearing a floor length dress – nobody will ever see them. They offer the same height and figure accentuating benefits that stilettos provide and you’ll be the last one left on the dance floor. What’s not to love?

Kim K feels your pain too

Kim K feels your pain too

The Dress

Really, this section may as well be titled ‘The Jumpsuit’. Unless you’re going to one of the super fancy ones, May Ball dress codes are not as rigid as you might think. Wearing a jumpsuit is a clever, stylish and comfortable method of avoiding an array of possible wardrobe malfunctions. The bottom of a floor length dress for instance is perhaps the best-known problem area. Your heel getting caught on the inside, someone else stepping on it from the outside, chairs, puddles… the list of traps is endless. Then there’s the dancing. If you’re most at home on the dance floor, jumpsuits are definitely the way forward. There’s nothing more frustrating than being trapped in your own dress when eeeeeeeh macarena comes on.


What darling? You’re zip just popped? Ok, keep smiling. Just keep smiling.

The Chills

In most other countries the cold would not be an issue in mid-June. However, we are in the unfortunate predicament of inhabiting a grotty little Island in the North Sea. Yes we have a summer, and that’s a lovely day, but chances are it won’t be the day of your ball. Shawls are an option, but they have an annoying habit of getting in the way or lost. The solution to this issue is simple; dinner jackets. They’re not your problem until you need them. Simply remove from male friend when required and return after use.


I mean really, what else are they for?

The Underwear

It must be bombproof. A bra on the move is possibly the most annoying thing ever. If there’s any way you can avoid wearing a strapless bra, don’t go near them. Make sure to perform a test-run involving hops, jumps and macarena style dancing prior to the main event. If you’re going for a revealing outfit, body tape is a strong weapon in the battle against wardrobe malfunctions, or more specifically, nipple flashes.

In terms of the bottom half, VPLs have basically been an issue since humans left the cave. When you think of spanx you will initially think of middle-aged women and grannies. However, it is wise to be a bit more open-minded about the subject. There’s a reason why the Kardashians swear by them. No VPL, no food baby after dinner, no thrush. Whilst the idea of them may not be glamorous, you will certainly look it. Finally, if it’s a Bridget Jones type scenario your worried about, you can always follow her lead and keep a pair of tiger-print pants handy for when you get home.

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‘And these are.. Fuck me, absolutely enormous panties.’

So, there’s your low down on how to ace black tie, now you can focus on consuming as many units of all-inclusive alcohol as possible. Enjoy!