Evening Dresses for your Special Occasion

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Picking the right dress for you and your event

Don’t let the stress of choosing a dress spoil your

 

excitement for your special event. Your perfect outfit is

 

out there; you just haven’t found it yet.

Don’t let the stress of choosing a dress spoil your excitement for your special event. Your perfect outfit is out there; you just haven’t found it yet.
 

Evening Dresses
The dress code
Your dress length
Your dress material
To buy or to hire?
Evening dress dos and don’ts


What do different dress codes mean?

Not so black and white
One of the most confusing things on an event invitation can be the dress code. What was
 
once a choice between black and white tie has now evolved into a collection of strange
 
fashion fusions.
 
We explain at the most common dress codes below, starting with the most formal:
 
One of the most confusing things on an event invitation can be the dress code. What was  once a choice between black and white tie has now evolved into a collection of strange  fashion fusions.

We explain at the most common dress codes below, starting with the most formal:

White Tie – The ultimate in formal evening  wear, white tie conjures up images of ceremonial  state dinners and grand ballroom dances. Full- length ball gowns with hems below the ankle are  popular, as are accessories including gloves and  tiaras.
Black Tie The most common form of formal  dress with more flexibility and freedom. Cocktail  and little black dresses are sometimes  encouraged. Consider the scale of the occasion  to get a sense of what’s required. Your black tie  dress doesn’t have to be black.
Semi-Formal – The evening wear equivalent of  smart-casual. Make an effort with a modest short  dress and keep an eye on the invitation for  clues. Dress up with accessories if in doubt and  remove as necessary if required.
Cocktail Be bold, be bright, be beautiful. Take  your pick of thousands of cocktail dress designs  without the overbearing fear of formality. Tailor  the length of your dress to the occasion. Less  formal events call for shorter styles.


How long should your evening dress be?

Walking the hemline
With so many different dress codes, it’s natural that you might be left confused as to how long  (or short) is acceptable. Do you know all of the different lengths?

   
Floor Length 

Reaches the floor and designed to cover your shoes. Be careful not to trip or get the bottom of your dress dirty.

Best for: White tie, Black tie
Full Length

Similar to floor-length dresses but designed to sit on the top of your feet, just short of the floor.

Best for: Black tie, Semi-formal
Ballerina 

Knee to ankle-length dress with full-bodied skirt. Ideal for making a lasting impression and usually available in a range of pastel shades.

Best for: Black tie, Semi-formal, Cocktail
Tea

Vintage and slightly informal, tea gowns can come as low as about mid-calf and provide a graceful feminine silhouette. 

Best for: Black tie, Semi-formal, Cocktail
Knee

The classic cocktail dress with a hemline that sits around knee level. Designed to add a touch of glamour and perfect for a range of occasions.

Best for: Black tie (casual), Semi-formal, Cocktail
Mini

Relatively informal, thigh-length dresses, only usually seen at cocktail parties.

Best for: Cocktail


Which material should you choose?

Formal dress fabrics
Many formal evening dresses are made from familiar materials such as satin and silk, but  your search to be different may lead you to some lesser-known fabrics.  Whatever you choose, remember to dress for the weather. While light fabrics such as chiffon  are great in the summer, they’re unlikely to keep you warm when the winter wedding party  moves outside. 

Here’s a couple of evening dress fabrics you may not have heard of:

Organza – A thin, sheer fabric often made from  silk and can be woven with polyester and nylon. 
 
Taffeta – Slightly more rigid than organza and  provides good body. Popular in corsets for the way  it holds its shape.
 

To buy or to hire?

Invest in your dress
It’s tempting to head straight to the dress hire shop as soon as your event invitation lands on  your doormat, but there are plenty of reasons to buy instead.
1) You can’t re-wear a hired dress (unless you rehire  it, of course) - You’ve gone to the effort of choosing  the perfect dress for your event so have the  confidence to commit to it. What do you do when  your next invitation arrives?
 
2) Dress hire isn’t cheap – Hire companies hold huge  collections of expensive ball gowns that require  professional cleaning and care; they don’t give out  cheaply. Always remember that you’ll probably be  asked for a deposit – will you be able to enjoy  yourself if you’re worrying about getting it back?
 
3) Other people have worn it – There’s a reason  you’re reading this article: you want to feel unique  and look special. Hiring a dress that other women  have worn goes against everything you want to achieve – what if the dress’s previous  wearer is sitting on your table?
 



Evening Dress Dos & Don’ts

Avoiding fashion faux-pas
  • Think carefully about wearing white or black to a wedding – unless you’re the bride or groom.
  • Don’t forget your shoes! Unless you’re wearing a floor-length gown, your shoes will be visible. Consider how they suit your dress, your accessories and the occasion.
  • Does your event have a theme? Read the invitation carefully for guidance and never be afraid to ask the host for clarification.

 
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