Ask Belle: Cocktail Dresses with Wow

Feb 5, 2015

Hi Belle,

I need a cocktail dress for my 30th birthday.  I have about $175 to spend and I need a cocktail dress that wows.  I mean, WOW!!!  Ideas?

Love the blog! Emma Z.

Wow, huh?  Hmmm, let’s see what I can dig up.

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Falling Sleeveless Dress ($154)

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Oh My Love Dress ($76)

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Bailey44 Zambia Dress ($152)

Looking for another option?  Rent the Runway allows you to rent a cocktail dress for special occasions.  This way you can rent an impactful dress without worrying about whether you can wear it enough times to justify the price.  I like this off-the-shoulder Donna Karan dress and this ice blue Viktor and Rolf.

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  1. Sam says:

    My only hinderance on Rent the Runway, based on two recent experiences — skip anything with a ton of detail (lace, buttons, maybe sequins). Those pieces get beat up pretty easily. My first experience was great, with a sequined dress, but my second with a lace-paneled Lela Rose dress was a bust as it was missing some important buttons in the back (that was after my original order wasn’t returned in good condition by previous renter and I had to repick).

    • Anna says:

      Definitely give yourself a 2-3 day buffer with your rental. If there’s a problem, they’re usually really good about overnighting a replacement (it sounds like they did that in your case). I’ve even had them send me a free new dress, because something didn’t fit like I was expecting. If you’re in DC, they also just opened a “boutique” where you can go and try on their dresses. They also have them in NYC and Vegas

    • Pancakes says:

      Agree — don’t do anything with lace UNLESS it’s a pretty hardy-looking lace. Avoid eyelash lace. Sequins can be ok, in my experience, esp if the dress doesn’t have a ton of reviews (aka fewer people rented it).

      I had to send back lace dress I rented and they overnighted me two new ones…both new ones looked even more beat up than the first two.

      • Anna says:

        That’s the other thing. Now that they’ve been around for a while, I’ll see dresses I remember from 2-3 years back, usually they were $100 or so to rent back then and are now in the $35-50 range. You can get some great dresses, but the ones with more delicate details may show some wear and tear. Definitely look to the age and number of reviews.

      • Belle says:

        Agreed. I’m also careful about chiffon. They do their best, I think, given the amount of wear and tear, but better to be safe than sorry.

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