Ask Belle: Dresses for Date Night

Sep 17, 2015

This ‘Ask Belle’ is actually for me.  After a decade of sitting out the dating scene, I’ve started going out again.  Recently, while getting ready for an event, I realized that I have few dresses that are appropriate for nice dates.  

I’ve spent years collecting work dresses and “appropriate” dresses for weddings and work cocktail events.  As a result, I need to pick up some dresses that are more suited to going out on the town.  Here we go.

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Nicole Miller Asymmetrical Dress ($365)

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Laundry Twist Back Dress ($195)

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AQ/AQ Twist Neck Mini Dress ($225)

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Love Slinky Front Wrap Dress ($66)

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Ronny Kobo Megan Cutout Dress ($249)

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ASOS Curve Pencil Dress ($69)

If any of you ladies have recommendations for stores where I should look or brands you like, I’d love to know.  Also, if plus-size ladies have some recommendations for where to look, that would be great.  I felt pretty limited to ASOS.

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  1. heatherskib says:

    That Nicole Miller dress is fabulous! Good luck dating again.

  2. Amanda says:

    Belle, Eloquii has become my first stop for plus size shopping from workwear to date night. For a cheaper price point, I also like Fashion to Figure. Addition Elle, Violetta by Mango, and Carmakoma are some emerging plus size brands that I really like.

    • GeeCee says:

      I second the Eloquii recommendation. Other standbys include Kiyonna, Mynt 1792, Hey Gorgeous, and for more casual stuff, City Chic. My current favorite window-licking destination though is Navabi (US site: https://www.navabi.us/ ), even though it’s pricey enough that I usually wait for things to go on sale.

    • Sydney Bristow says:

      I tend to look for Eloquii items at Nordstrom to take advantage of the free shipping and returns.

      • Amanda says:

        Sydney, do you get the Eloquii sale alerts? Just last week I bought a dress, a shirt, and a belt at 40% off and they had only arrived on the website last week. I essentially got the shirt and belt for free once taxes and shipping were factored in.

  3. Trace says:

    Dates require more casual day dresses than going out dresses. I recommend the brand Lush at Nordstrom for cute, cheap options. Their blouson skater dress and Kylie skater dress are two of my favorite go-to dresses

    • Valerie says:

      Agree, although I think it’s good to have a mix (or a couple go-tos depending on the venue). Some of my early dates have either been during a weekend day or at a very casual place, which left me feeling very out of place in an LBD and heels.

      • Valerie says:

        Also, I’ve found that sales on Revolve and Shopbop have some good fancy-but-not-wedding/cocktail/fancy dresses appropriate for dates.

    • Stephanie says:

      Totally agree that type of style is far more appropriate for the dating and “date nights” most people are doing in real life, whether single or married. The Gigi skater dress and the Karly shift are also good. The dresses featured here like what I would wear to a wedding or some sort of banquet/event. Not to a restaurant. But I’m in LA, maybe east coast is different?

  4. Allison says:

    Yay dating! Fun! I love revolve.

  5. Katie C. says:

    I’m watching this thread. I honestly have no idea how to dress up at night and while my fancy date nights are few and far between, it would be nice to have a couple options just in case.

    That green dress is gorgeous!

  6. Kate says:

    It’s been a while but most of my dates were more in the jeans and V-neck zone. eShakti is cute for day dresses in all sizes.

  7. Lee R. says:

    Have you ever tried Rent the Runway? I am trying it for the first time this weekend for a friend’s wedding. However, I have a lot of friends that use it, and the site has a large selection of dresses. Would love to hear if you’ve used it!

    • Belle says:

      I have used it. I like it for some things, maybe not for this. I kind of need dresses I can grab on a moment’s notice.

  8. NS says:

    Enjoy yourself 🙂 i’ve loved anthropologie for date night dresses. also reiss can have a few good ones for dinner dates. i would agree with Trace that you also need feminine + flirty day dresses!

  9. California Girl says:

    Try igigi for plus size, they even have a shape selection guide based on body shape.

  10. Blair says:

    Call me crazy, but Express has started showing some on-trend, fun, “going out” styles that won’t break the bank (they have sales and coupons every other day it seems) and aren’t too “clubwear” for my taste. I started browsing after you posted some of those “One Eleven” styles on the site a few weeks ago. They’re also carrying some flirty day dresses too!

  11. Shelley says:

    I LOVE Rent the Runway for occasion dresses. They ship two sizes for you to use and return. It is wonderful to not have to actually purchase so many dresses.

  12. RU0665 says:

    Maybe D.C. is different, but until I was in a super serious relationship and was getting taken out to NICE dinners (the kind you splurge on a gf), I never got/get this dressed up for dates. Usually nice jeans, semi low cut top or relaxed dress/tunic and tights did the trick. I think if I showed up wearing any of these dresses to dates 1-5 with guys I date I’d be laughed out of the room.

    • Pam says:

      Agree. And I am in Dc. I was getting pretty jealous of Belle! Not sure I went on such fancy dates except for the very very rare occasion!

  13. Lauren says:

    Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only person who hasn’t dated in years 🙂 I’m sort of starting to think about considering it, haha! I’m 32 and it has been almost 7 years since I dated. It is scary. I look forward to your fashion/makeup suggestions, and any advice you have. Wishing you the best, you deserve it! Also, that first Nicole Miller dress is totally amazing in every way!

  14. Monica says:

    Seconding Anthropologie for cute, flirty dresses that can go day or night, depending on accessories. In the last few years I’ve grown my dress stable from a fat goose egg (0) to a collection of four or five versatile dresses almost entirely from there.

  15. 40-something says:

    These dresses are Trying Too Hard. I don’t think that that’s what you’d want to convey.

    Maybe something more effortless but just as pretty (DVF Reina)?

    • Belle says:

      They’re not trying too hard. They’re appropriate for the events we go to. I wear wrap dresses for work, the goal was to have dresses that couldn’t be worn to work.

  16. Jules says:

    I have the Laundry dress, and was worried because I’m kind of self concious about my back, but it comes up high enough to cover but is still interesting. And the neckline is everything. However, in my experience it ran true to size. Also dating is the best and the worst- sending good vibes to a fellow bachelorette.

  17. Niki says:

    I love that burgundy slinky dress, but I would have nowhere to wear it! Happy dating Belle!! I am glad you have fancy places to go on dates 🙂 Mine are standard jeans and cute top type places. I have occasionally brought out the leather mini skirt with a flowy top, but that’s usually with a boyfriend, not a first or second date type person.

    • G says:

      As someone (in their early 30’s) who has been dating the past few years on and off, I completely agree that Jeans, heels and a cute top, or a more casual dress more date appropriate these days. That being said, if you can land a date where these dresses are appropriate – Congrats!!

      I you wanted to do a post on the slightly more casual side of dating outfits, that would be great.

      • E says:

        Second the request for the casual dating outfits–especially the jeans/heels/cute top type…

        I’m late 20’s and that’s the extent of formality for most of my dates. Also the straight from work dates…

        • MP says:

          I would also love to see a post on more casual dating outfits. These dresses you shared are all gorgeous though. Have fun stepping out on to the dating scene 🙂

  18. HH says:

    That Nicole Miller dress is fantastic, and I second some of the comments about dressing more casually for most dates. I usually wear more casual dresses, but then again I’m not going on date-dates since I’m married.

  19. Katie says:

    Go Belle!! Good luck and have fun!!

  20. Nicole says:

    I have lived in DC for 8+ years and I can count on one hand the number of dates that necessitated that level of formality. My go to in the cooler months is a wrap dress or a fitted sweater dress with boots. For more casual meet ups, jeans and a silk blouse with some type of heel is usually appropriate. I would save those dresses for nights out with the girls!

    • Belle says:

      It’s not about where you live. It’s about what you and the person you’re dating like to do. We like to have a reason to dress up.

      • Nicole says:

        I’m a lawyer downtown and have been to a good number of upscale restaurants/bars here. Outside of a few downtown locations that tend to cater to the out of town clientele and maybe some places in g’town, my first thought seeing someone dressed like that would be it was some kind of special event birthday/anniversary/engagement/bachelorette.

        However, those dresses are gorgeous and I’m sure your date would very much appreciate you wearing them. My point was that if you are truly looking for a well rounded “date wardrobe” it might behoove you to include some more casual options that you feel great in and perhaps are more conducive to less fancy locations — unless you plan on having all your dates at cocktail bars and restaurants then my hat is off to you!

  21. M.L. says:

    Not exactly related, I know, but if anyone is looking for work-appropriate dresses, the new fall collection from MM LaFleur is up on their website. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff.

    Anyway, happy dating, Belle!

  22. Lexi says:

    These are gorgeous dresses, and hope to see more! I don’t devote much time to nice date night dresses– they’re perfect for a gala, symphony, opera occasion and are tastefully sexy at the same time. And thanks for posting the plus size dress in the roundup, that Asos dress is sexy!

  23. Anna says:

    The slinky dress is a little clubby, but the rest of the dresses would be appropriate for most mid-high range restaurants and cocktail bars. You might be among the most dressed up people, but assuming you’re not wearing flashy jewelry or ridiculous heels, you wouldn’t look out of place. I mean, I’d be totally jealous.

    • Valerie says:

      I think styling makes the difference as to whether a dress looks clubby versus date night (hair, makeup, shoes, choice of an outer layer if it’s cold, etc.).

  24. BBB says:

    I would agree with most posters that when I was still on the dating scene, most of my dates were more casual. Still, give Belle a break! If she and her date like – and have occasion – to dress up like this, more power to them! Personally, I loved dating and I would have loved dates that required dresses of this caliber. Not to mention, dating in one’s 30’s is likely much different – and more elevated – than dating it one’s 20’s, as it should be. Have fun!

  25. Leila says:

    Go on with your bad self, Belle. That green dress is major. Agree agree agree with the ladies suggesting jeans and heels. A nice pair of black skinnies and one of those popover blouses you like so much would also do the trick. And white. People like white. And/or color.

    Happy dating!

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