Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Cocktail Dresses with Wow

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.


Falling Sleeveless Dress ($154)


Oh My Love Dress ($76)


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.



  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).

    February 5, 2015/Reply
    • 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

      February 5, 2015/Reply
    • 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.

      February 5, 2015/Reply
      • 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.

        February 5, 2015/Reply
      • 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.

        February 5, 2015/Reply