dressing is just like any other, the golden rule is: keep your clothing
appropriate. This rule is just as important for more informal office dos
as for formal events. The key word is 'appropriate' rather than
With careful planning ahead, you can be the belle of the ball. Begin by deciding on your
hairstyle for the event. This may take some weeks to
sort out, especially if you need to change hairstyles and learn to manage the new shape.
Follow this advice with some magazine or internet research on
fashion trends and
styling before going shopping for your party dress.
Certainly for any black tie affair, a full evening dress is the best
option unless the invitation hints that women may wear a cocktail dress. A special event needs a more special gown.
This page is dedicated to showing you some formal gown examples. See the how
to shop tips on the next page for preparing to buy an
dress for office dos.
If you are an ordinary working girl with not much time to do your shopping - then my
advice is hit the high street of your nearest major city. If you are
Mrs Fat-Wallet I am confident you already know where to get the best ball
gown buy for you!
If you are
on a budget and seeking a full length prom style evening gown, then in UK, head for Debenhams, Monsoon, any House of Fraser,
Fenwick or John
Lewis. If you don't have a big store near you, then try
instead ringing your nearest bridal store, which often stocks evening dresses
and maybe even hires out party prom dresses.
Budget at these stores doesn't mean inexpensive, price is all relative
dependant on your pocket.
At Monsoon you might pay around £150 to £200 for an evening dress, which will
make you look stunning. If you are wealthy this seems like nothing,
but if you are Miss Average this will be a figure that should enable you to
find a very acceptable gown.
This lovely 'Bridgit' dress on the left, is not in the stores yet as this
formal gown is aimed at the autumn party
season. It's from Monsoon's Autumn/Winter 2006 range for women and is in teal at £160. This evening dress certainly deserves to be photographed on
a red carpet!
Monsoon UK are part of the Arcadia group. They also do an excellent special occasion and bridal range. For autumn Monsoon, like Debenhams, will have plenty of black evening party dress styles to
make a considered selection. You can also browse Monsoon online, their price point for evening gowns is about £150 to £200.
Monsoon also has a limited personal shopping service spread across
Style advisors are available by pre-arranged telephone appointments at these
Kingston Clarence Street,
Glasgow Bunchanan Street,
Keynes Midsummer Arcade and
Manchester Arndale the new flagship store since April 2006.
Style advisors at these particular stores can deal with all wedding and special
They can also help you update your wardrobe with an element of
a private consultation in a reserved personal shopping room.
Next has several dresses suitable for formal events and the
clothes can be ordered
online or at NEXT in-store nationwide. Even better, NEXT have a wide range of sizes.
A little cover-up from the NEXT
DIRECTORY just like this feather shrug might be just the job to
keep the chill off when dashing from car to foyer. They have similar
shrugs available in several colours including
purple a hot choice
for colour this autumn.
NEXT DIRECTORY UK Item : Feather Shrug (123-968-X38), With satin bow ties.
100% feather. Lining 100% polyester. Page No.316, £22.99.
season the gemstone colours have been revived, as a result there are several teal and green tone long dresses in stores. You can see more
jewel colours in
Teal green has been used to great effect in this lovely slinky jersey
evening dress from Principles.
Teamed with an impressive necklace, the dress is not too revealing
slinky jersey fabric draped neckline. As a dress it is well
designed with the bodice not being too exposed in relation to the possible
leg on show, dependant on how you pose. There is just a fine line between revealing too
many body parts and vulgarity. The art is being subtle when just a hint of what lies
beneath stays tasteful and alluring.
The split skirt is a real Liz Hurley touch. How much leg you reveal
is up to you - you can be subtle or sultry, but this gal
looks wonderful wearing this
If you have terrific legs like this model and choose to display them, then
this is a knock-'em-dead, sophisticated womanly dress for a big birthday such
as a 40th birthday party. Make your friends green with
envy. This Principles teal dress above is a real sensation and will be in the shops for autumn. At £75 it's a stunning snip. The elegant 'Joyful' shoes are also by Principles at £55.
I really like Principles for stylish clothes that seem to suit so many British figure types.
are bang on-trend in colours and styles.
Principles is one of the retailers who did folkloric looks exceptionally
well over the past 12 months, producing pretty forward looking skirts. You
may wish to know they also do an attractive petite range. Find
both on the high street and as in-store concessions.
Check out their online website which has several other dresses very suitable
for evening functions in both their Midnight and the Bauhaus ranges.
Principles do of course have a whole range of everyday clothing lines and
all at affordable prices.
You will find many Phase Eight concessions in branches of House of Fraser
and John Lewis as well as stand alone shops within major cities. I
find Phase Eight clothes especially good for women of average UK height of
5' 4" (moi).
To the left this striking long glittering black evening dress is by Phase
Eight. It has a fashionable V neckline which was also a style
element featured in detail on the
dress page. With such classic looks it should be a wardrobe
party staple for
Maybe you can afford a higher spend, if so, then try a designer label stockist and take a trip to Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or Browns. An
alternative would be to consider hiring a dress or buying new accessories to
lift an existing basic dress.
If you are older you may look better with just an illusion of bare flesh.
That means a little shrug feather or fur jacket or capelet. Maybe a
velvet or silk jacket, lace bolero, silky cover
up or sheer layers over bare arms would enable you to buy a skimpier dress
with the two items making an edgier outfit.
If a bare dress is just not you, an alternative is to go
sophisticated and find a garment with long sleeves in wonderful fabrics of
silk, satin and
brocade. Dress coats fit the bill here.
For the mature woman, however slim you are, the older your skin becomes the
harder it is to wear a strapless number successfully unless there is at least some sheer
or opaque cover up for the bare limbs. It
is much easier to wear a cover up, toning jacket or coatee and be in the
position of being able to remove it as you wish, than to arrive as the only bare shouldered woman in the room.
You may think you look fine in that bare number when you look in the mirror,
but not when you stand next to a 20 year old with shoe string straps!
But if you are the sort of woman that likes to make a statement entrance, whilst
maintaining elegance and dignity you could opt for a gown ensemble like this fabulous coat and dress
shown below. Imagine making a sweeping grand entrance in this Vera Mont black
taffeta coat and dress.
If you are looking for something special consider an item from the
Mont Collection. Vera Mont is part of the
Betty Barclay Group and makes elegant clothes suitable for formal gown occasions.
You will find them in some of the better boutiques and specialist occasion
wear sections of top stores.
This fabulous black taffeta evening coat right has a detachable train made of a
sea of frayed ribbons. The matching evening dress beneath also has a small
train. This is truly a red carpet outfit for a very special occasion.
Vera Mont press report for autumn 2006 states:- 'Femininity is the theme of the new autumn/winter collection from Vera
Mont, the evening and occasion wear fashion specialist. Vera Mont skilfully showcases
luxurious details from the time of Marie Antoinette, the 50s and 60s, as
well as oriental elements in fine materials to create a stimulating and
The Vera Mont name is perfect for all special occasions and uses high-quality fabrics such as
taffeta, fine silk, organza, airy chiffon, silk satin and lace this coming
This beautiful taffeta outfit left is in a rich Champagne brown. It
has an extra long skirt and off-the-shoulder bodice and an ample tulle
petticoat making it a great glamour gown. It does take one back to the
era of the Edwardians making for a picture perfect dress.
The ruffles, frills and ample details of crushed taffeta dresses bring
back memories of the Fin de Siècle. The Vera Mont collection of formal gowns really is quite special and you can see another
Vera Mont jacket evening outfit in cerise on the
Lady in Red page.
If you have the skills or know someone
who can make up your ideas or a pattern to your satisfaction, then it takes
a lot to beat an outfit made especially for you. If you are looking for something dynamic, yet elegant for an occasion and in
the manner of the Vera Mont coat
above, consider using one of the suggested patterns here from
Vogue Pattern 8115 -
The aqua strapless evening dress right also reminds me of the Monsoon teal
coloured long length Bridgit dress at the top of this page.
Any other slim line or A-line dresses could look good under the coat.
Patterns 8115 and V2714 below both offer a great deal of potential for those with
the ability to visualise them made up in a fashionable damask brocade or
other deluxe fabric.
Vogue 8115 right would also look striking made up as a black silk coat with
a jewel colour or pastel dress beneath it. Other fabric choices include peau de soie, shantung, taffeta and novelty beaded
I think Vogue Pattern 8115 could look terrific in velvet.
The sleeve of the aqua coat appears to be cut as a slim line dolman sleeve,
an easy to construct sleeve for the average sewer. Making a toile or
half toile first might eliminate most fitting problems before work on any
velvet begins. See my
how to hints and tips for sewing
and pressing velvet.
Finally these two designer dressmaking patterns show how evening or ball
gowns are gaining volume just like daywear. The opulent design of this black evening coat
Vogue Pattern (Number V2714) is by Oscar de la Renta for Vogue
Patterns. It shows where sleeve
styles and evening wear may well be going volume wise toward the end of the
noughties decade. Any dressmaker worth her
salt could add a slimmer sleeve if preferred.
V2714 would also be perfect as a coat worn over fuller 50s styles such as
the pretty full skirted formal ball dress above right, from Simplicity Patterns.
This sea green dress pattern was designed by
for Simplicity Patterns.
Simplicity Jessica McClintock
ball dress pattern is number 4686 and is available in Misses and Miss Petite sizes 4
to 20. It can also be made up as a ballerina length gown and has an
alternative halter neck strap finish plus a pattern for a useful evening wrap stole.
All the evening dress patterns are quite elegant and just the job for a special black tie event in
winter. With drama and
understated looks being the new future of evening wear rather than the
looks of recent years this is the kind of statement you need to be thinking
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