How Belle Picks a Party Dress

If you’re having a party, I’m wearing a dress.  It’s that simple.  But how do I choose the right dress for each occasion?  Come join me, while I walk you through my train of thought.

The Occasion.  Where am I going?  Is the dress code casual, semi-formal, cocktail or evening?  Abiding by the feel of the event is the first step.

If I don’t know what the dress code is for a public event, I hit Google Images for a minute to see if there are pictures from a previous year’s event.  If this is a private party, I’ll text a few other people who are going to see what they’re wearing.  Even if our guesses are a bit off, if we all show up dressed to the same level, at least I won’t be the only one who doesn’t exactly match the dress code.

Concealment.  I love my body, I just don’t love everything about it all the time.  I’ve wintered well, and I’ve been skipping the gym, so my arms and upper thighs are not my favorite parts of me right now.  I also have a breakout going on my shoulders that seems determined to stay beyond its welcome.  So dresses with sleeves and styles with loose-fitting bottoms are getting a lot of play right now (I love this DvF wrap.).  And Spanx are definitely back in the wardrobe rotation.

Enhancement.  Finding a piece that will hide the things that you aren’t loving about yourself will help you focus on the things that you do love.  I’ve been cinching dresses with belts to emphasize my waist and spending more time on my hair and makeup.  I’ve also painted my nails more often to emphasize that pulled together look.

This dress from Tadashi Shoji shapes the waist beautifully and would be perfect for a warm-weather wedding.  The bright and cheery print on this Ivy & Blu dress would be great for a semi-formal event.  In the under-$100 category, I love the modern look of this Trouve dress and this Aqua striped dress could be worn to a variety of events depending on the shoes.

Shoes.  Will I be standing?  Will I be sitting?  Will I be walking?  How much I enjoy a party is directly proportional to how much my feet hurt.  Comfortable shoes = maximum enjoyment.

The Jeffrey Campbell Solitair pumps are quite comfy when standing, if you need to walk a ways, you’ll need a ball-of-foot insole.  J.Crew also makes a fairly comfortable shoe.  I also find that shoes with a hidden platform stay comfortable longer.

One final tip, don’t wear your beat up work shoes to fancier parties.  If your shoes are nicked and scratched and worn, they’re not party shoes.  I suggest keeping back one pair of pumps or sandals that are just for parties.

So how do you pick your party attire?  Any tips to share?



  1. Joules says:

    Great tips. The thing I tend to think about most is the sexiness factor. How sexy can I really go? If it’s more formal occasion, I tone that down, but I’ve I’m going out for drinks and dancing with friends I amp it up. Usually this just means picking a tigher/looser or shorter/longer option.

    Style by Joules

    April 8, 2014/Reply
  2. CB says:

    When buying a dress, I do the ‘twirl test’ – put the dress on, twirl around in front of a mirror. If you feel happy/confident/sexy/fabulous (hopefully all of the above), then you should get the dress. If not, move on.

    April 8, 2014/Reply
  3. CH says:

    For occasions where standing around/walking/unstable terrain (outdoor weddings, I’m looking at you) are a defining factor, I pick my shoes first and plan the rest of the outfit, including the dress, around them 🙂

    April 8, 2014/Reply
  4. AM says:

    i think i’m in love with that tadashi shoji dress….

    April 8, 2014/Reply
  5. Govvie says:

    I wear jeans to parties.

    April 9, 2014/Reply