I get a lot of people emailing and asking me questions about special occasion dresses. Shopping for an evening dress or special occasion dress isn’t as scary as most people think. Here are the most common questions I get:
- What’s the difference between semi-formal and cocktail?
- If the event is during the day, what’s the dress code?
- Does formal mean I have to wear a long dress?
- What if I’m on a really tight budget?
- A semi-formal event means it’s “casual dressed up”. Translation: no jeans. A dress most suited for this occasion is one that is structured, lined; a step up from thinner fabrics that don’t hold their shape. Cocktail attire usually means it’s at night and more formal dress code is required. Translation: sequins, long or short. If you are dressier than most, you’re safely appropriate for the occasion.
- Dependent on the event, it’s better to go a little dressier than be under dressed. Stick to semi-formal attire unless you know that the host will be dressed down. It’s always better to ask than assume.
- If the dress code says Formal, Black Tie, or Black Tie optional, it’s not pertinent that you wear a long dress but just know that most people probably will be wearing one. A short dress can be worn to a black tie event dependent on the specific dress. Just note when shopping, the sparkly and shinier it is, it’s made for evening. When in doubt, always ask for help in the store.
- Dressing for evening doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drop a ton of cash. There are several ways to score a great dress. Consignment or resale stores are a great option to find the perfect dress. Most pieces are gently used, clean and are current styles. You can also “rent” a dress from websites like renttherunway.com or stylelend.com.
The Dreaded Dressing Room
So you have more than 20 dresses in your arms and you stumble over to the dressing room. Please note that two things come into play here:
- You must know that dresses on the hangers will look different on bodies.
- Nighttime events have very low lighting. Take that into consideration when you are trying on dressing under the fluorescent dressing room lighting. Color or texture of dress could slightly shift at night.
- Formal dresses always look better with heels-if you don’t have any to try on in the dressing room try to bring some with you or get some from the shoe department to give you a better idea of the dress length.
Need help shopping for an evening dress or outfit? Contact Holly Katz Style to let her make your shopping trip fun, seamless and affordable with one of her evening styling packages.