Selecting a Flattering Special Occasion Dress

No matter who you are, there is a good chance that at some point you will need to select a formal item of clothing to wear to a special event. Weddings, formal receptions, diamond anniversary parties, retirement celebrations, and opening night performances are just a few of the events that call for cocktail dresses or other special occasion clothing. Women are presented with a wealth of formalwear options so choosing the right outfit can be surprisingly challenging.

The three factors that will help you select your outfit

Women have three primary factors to consider when narrowing down their special occasion clothing choices. These are the season, the time of day the event is taking place at, and the woman’s general age.

  • Season: When it comes to special occasion clothing, dressing for the season is a little more involved than simply dressing in a manner appropriate to the weather you expect to encounter. Colors, fabric weights, and even the cut of cocktail dresses and other formal items of clothing are going to be more appropriate for certain times of year.
  • Time of day: You might not think that the time of day that an event is held would have a major impact on your outfit selection but just imagine wearing to brunch what you would wear to a night out at the symphony. Brighter colors, more casual lines, and simpler accessories characterize a day look as opposed to an evening look.
  • Age: While it is true that you are only as old as you feel, selecting an age-appropriate outfit will help you make the right impression. For instance, while an older woman might look polished and poised in an elegant pants suit, a woman in her mid-twenties might look like she just got off work. A girl in her teens might feel grown-up in the designer cocktail dresses her older cousin wears but the dress she picks might simply emphasize her youth in an unflattering way.

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Picking the right dress for you

A good way to begin shopping for a new special occasion dress is to seek out a store with a large selection. While niche boutique shops may contain some hidden treasures, unless you are already familiar with boutiques that routinely carry a selection of formalwear you might be wasting your time looking through the racks.

You should also avoid going to stores that specialize in bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses, and similar items. Many of these dresses have particular elements that mark them as appropriate for attending a prom or being part of a wedding party. Unless you happen to be shopping for one of these occasions, these outlets are best avoided.

Set aside plenty of time to shop and, if possible, arrange to bring along a friend or family member who can help you select new designer cocktail dresses. This person can help you choose the most flattering dress and might steer you towards options you had not considered.

And finally, shop with the knowledge that you can have the dress altered somewhat. Many women expect clothing to fit and flatter them right off the rack. Purchasing a dress that is one size too large allows your tailor or seamstress to alter it to a more exact, personalized fit. Having a dress altered to fit you also gives you a more distinctive look so even if someone else is wearing a similar outfit, yours will still be one of a kind.


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