DEAR MISS MANNERS: I don't want to invest in a formal gown I'll wear only once. What else would be appropriate on a formal occasion?
GENTLE READER: Your nightgown. Or so Miss Manners gathers from the fashion news. She was pleased to observe that there is also available nice, old-fashioned structured underwear, consisting of laced-up bodices and petticoats, which you could wear under it. Unfortunately, she has been told that these were alternative formal dresses.