Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Bright and Bold Gowns

Dear Belle, 

A physician at my hospital invited a few of us to join his table at the annual Diwali party. He said that it’s black-tie optional. I know the tradition is to wear new clothes so that’s fine but I’m wondering what sort of dress would be best. I am a Caucasian, late-20s gal and I don’t want to seem inappropriate by going too overboard and wearing a sari or something. The party is in the nicest ballroom in the town where it’s being held but it’s still a small town so I’m definitely going to have to shop out of town for a dress. Any advice would be welcome!


City girl lost in the cornfields

While Michaele Salahi may have chosen to attend the State Dinner dressed as Malibu Barbie in a sari, I can see why you would be hesitant to choose costumey attire for a formal occasion.  If you want to fit in at the event without playing dress up, I would recommend that you choose a full-length gown in a bright color and some statement jewelry.  

Saris are bold, bright and ornate, so choosing a colorful gown will let you fit in without trying to hard.  I recommend red, purple, blue or green.  You should also choose a simple shape if you’re going to select a bold color.  Tiers, ruffles, and feathers are best left to neutral shades.

As for jewelry, you should choose something bold.  Everyone else will likely be dripping in sequins and jewels, so use that to your advantage and pick a big piece that might be too much for another occasion.  The bigger the better.

Since I love Rent the Runway (I may never buy cocktail attire again), all of these selection (gowns and jewels) are from RtR.  Thus, the prices reflected are rental prices not retail cost.  

Robert Rodriguez Ruby Gown ($75) and Ciner Cascading Necklace ($50)

Carlos Miele Draped Sapphire Gown ($150) and Chamak Blue Tiered Earring ($10)

Temperley Emerald Gathered Gown ($75) and Kara Ross Petal Cuff ($45)

If you wanted to wear a cocktail length dress, that would probably be alright as the black tie rules are much more relaxed in D.C. than you might think.  However, I would recommend against wearing black.  If you must choose a neutral try a navy or grey, so at least you won’t be so boring that you stand out.  Because I have a feeling that this will be a very colorful crowd.


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  1. Stephanie says:

    That first dress + necklace combo is totally amazing. Now I need to come up with an event I can wear those to!

    October 20, 2010/Reply