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Whether you’ve been invited to a wedding reception, formal dinner, theatre event, or charity ball, if you’ve got a super-special occasion coming up, you’ll need an evening gown. This long and elegant dress style dates back to the 15th Century.
They’re made with luxurious fabrics and are designed to make you feel like a queen. When you find the right evening gown not only for the event but for your body type and personal style, you’ll be radiating with confidence, and all eyes will be on you – or at least you’ll feel like they are. Follow the guide below to learn how to find the perfect evening gown.
Consider the Occasion
Not all evening dresses are considered equal. While some gowns may be more versatile than others, not all dresses work for any occasion. In most cases, your best bet is to choose a simplistic design that compliments the shape of your body and draws attention to you instead of drawing attention to a specific, complicated part of the dress.
Before you start looking at evening gowns, determine the formality level of the event you’re shopping for. Some events are strictly exquisite, black-tie events, while others allow you to deviate from the black-tie dress code and could even be semi-formal in nature. Determining the occasion’s formality level will help you narrow your options.
Dress for the Season
Social events happen throughout the year, and the perfect dress for one season won’t necessarily be suitable for another. Comfort and colour are the main factors to keep in mind when considering the season your event is taking place.
For springtime events, consider styles with short sleeves, cap sleeves, or three-fourth sleeves. Sleeveless or strapless dresses are also ideal, but you should carry a stole or shrug. Off-the-shoulder neckline or halter neck styles with slits in skirts are lovely for spring. Look for gowns with simple, minimalist silhouettes and soft, breezy skirts. Keep your eye on floral designs and soft and neutral colour palettes.
When dressing for a summer event, base your choice on the intensity of the temperature you’d expect to encounter. Heavier, elaborate fabrics are okay for the first half of summer, but light, airy, breathable fabrics are recommended as the weather gets hotter. Look for minimalist dress patterns without layers. Consider strapless and sleeveless designs for indoor events and full sleeves for outdoors. Play with rich prints and patterns in vibrant colours. Cotton, tulle, satin are ideal fabrics for summer.
For autumn, consider increasing the colour intensity. Deep jewel tones paired with metallic accents offer sophistication and style. Earthy, intense colours are also ideal. High necklines, scoop or half-collar styles, and necklines with a V-dip in the centre all provide a level of refinement and sophistication that’s perfect for the season. Unlike spring and summer, fall is the ideal time to look at elaborate silhouettes and embellishments. Voluminous gowns with luxe embellishments like detailed crystal work and hand embroidery, gems, and sparkles are appropriate for autumn. You can go bold with ruffles and feathers or look at leafy, animal, and Aztec prints.
Winter is the best season for pulling out all the stops regarding detail, volume, and layers. Illusion necklines are chic and dramatic while helping to keep you warm. Use bold, modern accessories with gems. Monochromatic colour schemes are always popular for winter, but you can also look at prints in one colour tone. Choose gowns with thick, flowing fabrics like velvet, silk, and velveteen.
Understand Your Body Type
More than any other factor, finding the perfect evening gown largely depends on your body type. It’s essential to take measurements and understand which type of body you have before you start shopping for a new dress.
Apple body types have slim legs and thighs, a round mid-section, and a wider upper body. Look for dresses that define the waist around the midriff. Keep your eye on plunging or deep-V necklines and off-the-shoulder styles. For semi-formal events like cocktail parties, show off your legs with a high slit. For formal and black-tie events, consider gowns with an A-line structure and a lot of skirt volume.
With pear body types, the upper half of the body is narrower than the hips, thighs, and bottom. Focus on pretty details on the top half of the gown and choose a flowing skirt that gently skims your bottom half. Gowns with plunging bodices and halter necklines are ideal, and beadwork or other embellishments on the top half of the dress draw more attention upwards. Avoid body-hugging styles.
The hourglass figure has a narrow waist with hips and bust that are equal in width. Choose styles that hug your figure and show off your stunning silhouette. Designs with open backs are particularly flattering. High necklines can help accentuate the hourglass figure further.
In a busty body type, the hips are narrower than the chest. Look for dresses that support and highlight the bust while flattering your lower half. Flaunt a full bust in a fitted gown with a slim waistline. Look for styles like an A-line prom skirt or mermaid gown with a short empire bodice. Avoid high necklines, and instead, look for halter tops or plunging V-necks.
Petite body types are short overall with a short and slim upper half. If you have a petite body, you should choose gowns in solid colours and designs with higher belted waists to lengthen the look of your legs.
Athletic, Slender, or Tall
Athletic, slender, and tall bodies are characterized by a rectangular body frame with square shoulders and midsection. Add gentle curves with designs that have a narrow waist, flared tail and subtly hug the hips and bust. Mermaid styles, trumpet skirts, and sweetheart necklines are all ideal elements in gowns for these body types. Avoid column dresses.
Bring Out Your Personal Style
If you’ve been invited to an event that calls for an evening gown, it’s an extraordinary occasion, and you’ll want to be radiating with confidence. As you’re considering all the factors that come into play to help you choose the perfect dress for the event, don’t forget about all the little ways you can express your personal style.
If you’ve got a bold personality, push the envelope with bright colours and unique patterns whenever possible. If you want to embody the epitome of elegance, look for gowns that feature lace or beaded embellishments. If glam is the name of your game, find dresses that feature sequin or metallic details. You can also bring out your personal style through accessories; just be careful not to go overboard.
Choose the Right Colour
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right colour for your evening gown. Skin tone, season, and event type all play their parts in narrowing down your colour options. Choose a colour that makes your eyes pop and skin glow. Generally, warm skin tones look best with cold colours, while cold skin tones look best with warm colours.
Don’t be afraid to shop online for the widest selection of evening gowns at the lowest prices. You can find reputable brands and companies that sell high-quality affordable evening dresses, and you can always find excellent deals. Most online retailers have clear size charts displayed, and some offer tailoring services. Most also have simple return and exchange policies as well. Follow the guide above and start shopping for your perfect evening gown now.