How to Choose the Perfect Evening Dress For Your Occasion

selecting a formal gown
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Walking down the red carpet during festival season, our favorite actresses and other celebrities strut their glamour in their most gorgeous gowns and tuxes.

The evening dresses range from sophisticated to fabulously wild, playful, and everything in between. The defining factor is that each unique dress fits with each individual woman and makes her shine and look captivating, glam, and gorgeous.

Take the 2019 Cannes Film Festival red carpet. You have all kinds of long formal dresses as well as posh “wow” numbers.

Take Elle Fanning in her classy embroidered ballgown with a sheer cape and Olivia Culpo in her strapless, form-fitting mermaid dress. Both elegant with a pop of fun.

Then there’s Elisa Houk with her frock of tiered lavender feathers, Adele Exarchopoulos in her structured and caped sea-foam mini, and Kendall Jenner in her hot pink taffeta-tiered pouf among the extravagant and playful in the bunch.

All these women are wearing something suited to their personal style, the event, and what’s trending. Most have stylists to help them decide what to wear.

So, how do you pick the perfect evening dress yourself, you ask? Keep reading to find out, then get started with the dresses that speak to you.

 

From Invitation to Occasion

Before we look at some of our favorite glam dresses for special occasions to fully inspire you and make you excited about your dress, let’s take a quick look at the basic steps we follow when picking a fabulous frock.

 

Suss Out the Event

Before you pick a dress, know exactly what the expected dress code is for the occasion. If it’s an annual affair, look for photos of previous years. Or hit social media to find similar types of events.

If it’s the opening night for a restaurant or business, look at openings for other local businesses. People dress up or down depending on the city and even what the business is.

If it’s a rehearsal dinner for a wedding, ask the host or other friends. Check out the location. Again, whether you need to dress it up or down will depend on the venue.

And if worse comes to worst and no one can give you a hint, you can always peruse your basic etiquette rules for dress codes to decipher the difference between black tie, white tie, cocktail attire, formal, semi-formal, red carpet wear, and on! Better safe than sorry.

 

Take a Look at Your Options

This is the fun part and we’ll dive deeper after we go over the basics. You can start by looking at current styles and what’s trending. You can look at those red carpets — both from awards season and festival season — for inspiration.

See if anything pops for you that fits with the tone of evening wear for your occasion. Make note of your favorite styles. Those are the ones you are going to want to try on. Because you always want to try on your dress first!

Which brings us to our next step.

 

Try Before You Buy, Settle, and Wear

The only way you’re really going to know if a dress is the dress for you is to try it on. What looks good on one woman isn’t going to look good on all other women. Also, what looks great on a hanger and catches your eye isn’t always going to look as good when you try it on.

The good news is that there may be some dresses that will look fabulous on you and make you feel fabulous that you didn’t notice on a hanger or in a photo. That’s where going to a shop and letting us help you comes in handy. This is what the stylists do for the celebs!

Also, you may see a look you adore, like a flowing gala gown with a bright pop of color that catches your eye, but it just doesn’t fit your body style. Worry not because often there will be another cut in the same style that fits you better.

The romantic full skirt may make you look stout, unlike the tall model wearing it, but the dress with the short skirt front and embellished fabric or plunging neckline may make you look stunning. You just have to try all the cuts!

 

Look for Colors that Make You Shine

We all have colors that work amazingly with our hair, skin, and eye colors. When we put on a dress or any other piece of clothing in this color scheme, we just look fabulous. Our eyes pop. We look bright. It brings out all our best features.

On the other hand, we all have colors — all the colors that are not in our ideal color scheme — that just make us look pale and drained.

Find out what colors you look good in! This is just a good general rule of thumb for all your clothes.

First, you’ll find your skin tone. There are warm, cool, and neutral skin tones.

Then, find out which colors go with your skin tone. Also note that there are a few colors that work well for everybody, like light bluish pink and eggplant.

Try on clothes in your designated colors and see if it’s true that you suddenly look great in most clothes in those colors. Then look for dresses in your colors!

 

Look for Styles and Cuts That Fit Your Body Shape

Just as there are colors that make you shine, there are styles and cuts of dresses that make you look absolutely fabulous by accentuating your body in all the right ways.

First, find out what your body shape is, whether it be the shape of an apple, pear, rectangle, inverted triangle, or hourglass.

Then, learn about the dresses and features that fit best with this shape.

For example, if you have an apple-shaped body, you want to bring focus on your shoulders, arms, and legs and away from your torso to give you a longer, sleek look. Thin spaghetti straps, sleeveless tops, and V necks are your friends, as are flowy, short numbers.

If you have an hourglass-shaped body, lean into dresses that hug and accentuate your curves. Wrap dresses are your best friends.

And if you’re an all-out curve girl, lean into the plus size dresses. The curve designers are hot with dresses this year making curves on trend in 2019.

 

What’s Trending and Other Inspirations

So, you know the basic dress code for your event. You know your ideal colors. And you’re ready to try some dresses that stand out to you to see which work with your body style.

You’re in great shape! And this is going to be so much fun. Now, let’s look at what’s out there to see what pops or inspires you.

What’s trending this year in evening dresses is a fun take on classic gowns. That means you might have your typical gala gown with a long skirt, but this year proper ballgowns are in with volumes of fabric and bright colors.

Take for example the pink glamour that strutted the red carpet for Oscars 2019, everything from tiered to fitted. The common theme was glamour, lots of fabric, and playful panache.

Other trends we love this year that shout elegance plus wildly unique fun include feathers, plunging necklines, poofy sleeves, thin straps, neon colors, mermaid dresses, ’70s disco style, boho embellishments, metropolitan minimalist, florals, and so much more.

Let’s take a look.

 

Posh and Romantic Boho Chic

The bohemian look gets a new bump of style that makes it a little more elegant but still fun. Try dresses with pops of bright color and beaded embellishments in ballgown cuts.

Look for sheer lace sheaths embroidered with flowers or accented with feathers for a more posh gamine take. Think Gatsby meets Twiggy meets now.

 

Bright Pops of Color

Color is everywhere this year from the hot pink red carpet glam to our favorite fashionistas strutting city streets to posh events in neon green evening frocks with cute socks and comfy sneaks with a belt bag (also on trend!).

Our favorite color this year, however, is a bit more cosmopolitan in a refined say: a light blue. We love it with lacy sheaths and anything boho-modern. We also love it for some of the more statement looks this year, like tiers, tulle, and ballgown.

Also think about added a fun twist with a colored ribbon, straps, or belt.

 

Pops of Blooms

We love the flowers popping up everywhere this year! Yes, even on glamorous evening dresses.

Go for embroidered florals or appliques on lace or satin. Let bright-colored blooms cover your entire skirt like a stunning valley after the spring rains. Or be a bit more subtle with just a few pops along a hemline or at the waist or bust.

You can also wear flowers in your hair as a beautiful wreath or just add a delightful single.

 

Flirty Feathers

Feathers fly high on the trend list this year. “It Girls” across the globe are wearing this fabulous feathered frock looks.

Think feather accents on sleeves or around the neck or hemlines. Think structured minimalist top with a feather skirt! This is one of our favorites. So scrumptiously ideal for evening and still playful.

Let your flights of fancy set you free!

 

Posh at the Disco

This fun trending evening look takes your classic ’70s-era dress and gives it a bump of 2019 glam.

Think structured cuts and spaghetti straps up top and skirts that flow when you move plus sequins and metallic embellishments and fabric.

Think fringe, feather, and bauble accents swishing back and forth as you do the hustle on the dance floor. Or as you turn to wave hello at that special someone.

 

Structured Sass and Sophistication

This look takes simple elegance and adds a metropolitan minimalist pop-art twist. Think Andy Warhol meets Gatsby on your gown.

Think angular offset hemlines or layers. Think structured sleeves. Think museum-worthy low cuts on that plunging back.

This really is a fun look that we love this year because accessories are all about geometric shapes this year too. Pair your minimalist gown with geometric heels and a box-shaped sequin bag. Add a string of silver pearls or drop earrings and you’re good to go.

 

Tiers of a Cosmopolitan It Girl

This look is so flirty, frivolous, and fun! Think layers of crepe or tiers of lace. Think pastels of pink or blue or think muted earth tones.

Go narrow to wide like Kacey Musgraves at the Oscars or take it posh and sultry with layers that start loose below the hips and taper down to your ankles. Your sexy shoes will love this tapered design.

 

Feel Fabulous in the Perfect Evening Dress for You

We’re so excited for you! Why? Because it’s so much fun to pick the perfect evening dress. And it’s even more fun when you get to attend your special occasion looking so glamorously you, whether that be elegant and classic, bold and fun, or some mix of the above.

We hope we inspired you with some of the looks and trends. Did anything pop out at you? Start there.

Take a look at our dresses and then find a shop near you. We’re here to help you try on the ones you like and show you others that might fit your style too.

We’re like your personal stylists in a store, ready to bring out the best you for your occasion, whether that be a rehearsal dinner or other wedding affair, a special dance or prom, a holiday party or special celebration, or because you’re going to a glamorous red carpet event.

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