To the layman, 'formal' may mean wearing ones 'best' clothes to anywhere, whereas to one who understands the meaning and application(s) of the word, 'formal' is in fact, a specific occasion, held at a specific location for a specific period of time for a specific purpose and there are specific expectations required of its participants to pay due regard to established protocols of clothing and conduct.Further information for newcomers.... (Click to show)
There is Formal and Formalwear. Google these 2 words and reap the rewards of your labour. The short answer to these questions is: Formal is an occasion that serves a hierchy of some sort (anywhere from the occasions of Royalty, nobility, to Suzy & Billy's wedding or the last dance of the school year. etc). Formalwear is clothing that adheres to protocol, or a set of pre-defined rules serving the occasion. In other words, Formal refers to a place and-or occasion, Formalwear is what you wear to that place and-or occasion.
There are hierchies that serve the Royalty, Religion and Politics and there are hierchies that serve the public. Each has structure and protocols (rigid rules) of dress and conduct. There is also an expectation of adherance to the afore-mentioned thereof.
Social , cultural, economic and religious classes also contribute to defining the lines of these occasions and their participants.
Most people say the word 'formal' without understanding the 'whys and wherefores' of the different worlds that reside within the word.
With regard to the clothing itself, there is a wide range of manufacturers, quality and price that caters to every social class and budget just as there is for any other type of clothing.