Thursday, February 9, 2012

Special-Occasion Dresses

Cardigan- Maurices
Dress- Express
Shoes- JCpenny
Necklace- Gift (12th Birthday to be exact, so 12+ yrs ago)
To start this off- I love this dress. This dress is a really great versatile dress. It can be dressed up and dressed down. Obviously it's not the BEST example of a versatile dress- the neckline and cut does limit it's application a little bit. But I can wear it to the office, dress it up for a wedding, go on a date, and I can make it more casual for the weekend.

When thinking about dresses, I have only a few- 8. And they get minimal wear- in fact, 4 of them were only worn 1x. Who isn't guilty of buying a dress for a special occasion- only to not wear it again? I would hazard a guess that most of us are. For instance, the following two dresses:
This 1st dress was an expensive party dress from Express for $148. The second was $55.65 from Loft. 
The 1st dress is obviously very occasion specific. And I looked great in it, so I bought it and wore it even though it was prohibitively expensivee (2011 holiday party). That is a lot of $ to spend on a special occasion dress, especially if only worn once! When I bought it, I promised myself that I would find more occasions to wear it at- even if I have to make one up. While I haven't yet, I hope I will (I've only had this dress since mid-January). I rarely buy dresses for occasions (or even wear dresses, which is sad). I don't subscribe to the idea that you HAVE to buy a dress that is versatile, though it is the best option when talking about cost-per-wear. But, I also hate the idea that we must buy a new dress for every occasion! The second dress should have been more versatile, but the cut and fabric is formal, and the hemline too short for work in most cases. I loved it, but don't know how to wear it again (wore to a wedding, May 2011).
Before going out and buying a dress for a special occasion, you (and I!) should try the following:
  •  Is this an event where a dress would be appropriate? (no, not every occasion calls for a dress- and not every situation would be comfortable in a dress)
  •  Go into this with a positive attitude- because it is easy to self defeat, especially if you prefer shopping to re-wearing or re-inventing.
  • Throw every dress you own on your bed and evaluate each one. If it is too formal, think about how you might be able to dress it down. If it is too casual, think about how you can dress it up. Put the ‘no’ dresses back into the closet. Do NOT remove dresses from the pile that are too simple- it is so easy to accessorize and glam up simple dresses.
  •  Try on each of the dresses you have left in the pile, and think about how you could make it work.
  •  If you really are left with NO options, then go ahead and go shopping. Be careful when picking a dress out to buy, and keep in mind that you may want a dress you can re-wear to other occasions and cost per wear.
I’m not trying to say that you can’t buy a dress just because you like it for a special occasion- just that it is easy to get into the shopping mindset for every occasion. IMO buying dresses specifically for special occasions should be minimized- maybe 1x a year, instead of ‘I need a dress for (Valentine’s Day, my Birthday, the Christmas Party, New Years Eve, my cousin’s Wedding, my nephew’s graduation, my spouse’s award ceremony, etc etc.). Buying a versatile dress that can be dressed up or down is a great idea- but the best idea is ACTUALLY doing it, instead of leaving it hanging in your closet.

While making this post up, I remembered a great post from Sal at Already Pretty: How to wear a formal dress to the office. Perhaps I should try this with my 2nd dress up there and see if I can tone it down for the office?


  1. First of all, I absolutely LOVE that blue! So gorgeous - I am always drawn to pieces in that color when I see them. Anyhow - with the Express dress, could you put something on top of it so it basically works as a skirt, with tights? I see bloggers all the time with sequined skirts and I love that look.

    1. Thanks Taylor! I hope you feel better.

      I like the sequined skirt idea- but it really is the shortest thing I own, I can't really pretend it would be appropriate anywhere that isn't a club, bar, etc. It's almost completely out of my comfort zone- the idea would be fab for a sequined dress that was longer though. Hmmmmm. I'm going to think about your suggestion though when I go out again to someplace more casual!