i need help dress shopping

I'm not a formal person. I grew up on the West Coast (born and raised in Washington State, baby) and so I've never known anything else but casual. My parents are from California, which doesn't help any more.

The last time I wore a "formal" dress was at my own wedding.

Weddings here are casual, chill affairs- outdoors- where bridesmaids mismatch cotton dresses and grooms wear khakis. So when the husband and I got an invite to a formal wedding this December, I was stumped. I called my mom, and she wasn't any help, either. I took to Twitter, asking, if the guy had to wear a suit-- i.e. jacket and pants matching... and what I needed to wear.

Turns out, yes, the guys need to wear suits. And I need to get a cocktail dress. While I usually jump at the excuse to buy a dress, this has me stumped. I went out shopping, in search of one, and bought a Free People sweater dress on the clearance rack instead. Fail.

To be honest, I'm just not much of a formal, glitzy, sparkly person. I am getting a bit more into sequins, but besides the glitter I wore in 7th and 8th grade, I don't do sparkles that well.

So I found some dresses online-- but I need your help. I usually am the one answering fashion questions, but when it comes to formal, I have no clue.

Which one(s) do you like? And can I get away with wearing a simpler dress if I add bling-y jewelry? I have heels-- black patent leather, peep-toe pumps-- so I just need a dress to match.

Help a girl out.

1. This is a dress I normally would never, ever wear... but I kind of like it. (but not its price tag)

2. I am really into the jacquard look lately-- and love this dress from asos.

3. This one from Macy's is more than I want to spend, but I love the subtle detailing.

4. The lace on this green dress is stunning but I'm not sure it's fancy enough.

5. Simple dress but with a little added bling.

other options: this one I love and it's on sale! not sure if it's dressy enough? Also, are there any other places you'd suggest for cocktail dress shopping?

xo, erika


  1. you're so funny! I like number one but if you're concerned about prices of these you should check out H&M. they always have holiday formal wear that's really affordable and cute. To be honest, you're so long and lean I feel like most of those dresses will be super short on you. But I'm coming from a prom 2001 mindset on formal wear.. everything was floorlength. hahaha!

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  3. You know what's hilarious? I instantly went to Ruche to search for dresses for you without properly looking at all the ones you posted....and I picked out #5 for you! Apparently I really like that one ;)
    I also think Ruche's "Serendipitous Moment Embellished Dress" would look stunning on you! The emerald colour and your hair would be so gorgeous.
    Also, a little black dress with some jewelry could always work ;)

    or what about Ruche's "Winter Rose Brocade" dress?

    Good luck with your search! Shopping is fun, but when you NEED to get something specific, it can be stressful!

  4. I'd go with option 2, I think its very classy, stylish and I think it is suitable for formal wear. Plus its something that doesn't go out of style.

  5. I also love #2! It's so classy and would be perfect for a formal wedding. #5 is also super cute, although it does look short. But with tights and your black pumps and jewelry it would be lovely!

  6. Either 4 or 5 would be my choice. I love the color of 4 but 5 is just kind of stunning and you could really bling it up.

    I always dress up for weddings, even if it's supposed to be more casual. Any excuse to get all dolled up. We have the same problem here - I've been to weddings where people are wearing jeans, which I think is just sad.

    P.S. I'm giving away a pair of really cool sunglasses today, come check it out!

  7. ooo!! I like 1 + 5 best!! But they are all so pretty!! xo

  8. YAY ERIKA i am so proud of you! ! ! ! I say any of them work, but #4 since its teal and not black would be at the bottom of my list just because of the color NOT because of the style. I love the color but if you want to go easy on accessories and hair/make up I say stick to a black dress :)

  9. Erika- these are great picks! I would say #1 or #2 would be the top ones, or the one you picked from mod cloth that is on sale. You could easily bling that up. However, even though it is lovely, stay away from #4. It's a bit on the casual side, and hard to add accessories too because of all the lace detailing. Cheers and good luck lady! Can't wait to see what you come up with!


  10. i love #2 ! cuz i know so much about dresses. it's just all the others have the waist thingy, which in my very limited exp. (school uniforms) would not be in the right spot.

  11. For what it's worth, you can absolutely dress up a sweater dress. Pair it with some gold and glittery jewelry, some fancy pants heals, awesome tights and a killer hairdo. (Though dress No. 2 up there is stunning.)

    If you don't like to dress up too much and want to buy a nice dress w/o spending a fortune, try JC Penney's, no joke. My bridesmaid dresses came from there. They were beautiful, comfy, affordable and, yes, wedding appropriate.

  12. How about any of these?

  13. number 4! :) But I was at Marshall's today and some some cute formal dresses you just might fancy!

  14. I vote for #5, I say buy 1 great; classic black dress, planning on keeping it for years as they never go out of style. Jewelry changes a dress, so plan on different jewelry for different events. if you need sparkly and bling you could get a very inexpensive shawl or little sweater that is more trendy often with beads or sequins sewn or glued on. have fun !

  15. any of these would be beautiful on you, but especially 4 or 5. also, both of these could easily be worn again. 4 to other events (even a fancy date) and 5 to holiday parties for years to come.

    for more options, try dorothy perkins!

    can't wait to see what you choose!

    xo nicole

  16. green green GREEN. I love it. And I totally think it's fancy.

  17. haha, that's funny. we have been to many a fancy wedding, i think they're more common in michigan. the wedding we're going to in ann arbor the day after thanskgiving is going to be outside (brr) with the reception at a restaurant, they are way casual. i am the same as you, although i like dressing up, for sure, i don't like getting too fancy. i think any of those dresses would be fine. i really like that ASOS dress, the lace detail is so pretty.


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