The invitations are rolling in and you know you need to look amazing. The only problem is that dresses are expensive, you may not wear them very often and you have no idea what to wear to your next charity ball. Don’t worry. We’ve pulled together some ideas for your next ball or charity event. It’s easy to look amazing and there are a lot of great brands out there for all shapes, sizes and budgets. I know this might seem shallow – it’s all about charity right? You have to remember that a lot of charities use photos from events to advertise for the next year. If you are looking sloppy, they can’t use your photos, sorry but it’s true. Help out by looking sharp.
If you’re a guy, this is going to be a lot easier than if you are a woman. Most tux shops will sell or rent you a tux at a decent price and you can wear it for a really, really long time. I would recommend getting the best you can get and if you are buying a tux, get one with pins, rather than regular buttons. You want to look sophisticated. Don’t show up looking like someone’s prom date. If someone gives you a tux, get it fitted. We’ve all been to events where someone has decided to wear their dad’s messed up suit. I’ve seen that person – don’t be that person.
If you are looking for a dress, the first step is deciding what you really need. If the invite says cocktail, you can probably wear what you wore to work (assuming you work in a dressy corporate job). You can generally also wear a cocktail dress or outfit if the invite says black tie. However, if the invite says white tie you need to show up in a ball gown. In all cases, I would recommend that you ensure that you are wearing something chic, beautiful and well pressed. At one of the last charity events I went to, I wore a bustier style strapless top, velvet trousers and high heels. I was a bit nervous until I saw a blue-blooded society “It girl” there wearing a sophisticated playsuit. It was knee length with a high neck. Amazing!
Where to find deals
My view is that the best deals are going to be found online and in sample sales (if you’re in London, The Music Rooms have some great ones). You should also buy good quality dresses before you need them. I keep my dresses and then sell them online later to make a few bucks, which I can use to get a few more items. There are lots of great sites out there for dresses and shoes. I like Coast, Cocosa, Outnet, Gilt, and TJ/TK Maxx. I try not to outfits at full price because I wear them a few times and then tend to resell them.
1 – Ashby Dress at Baukjen for £89. Throw a blazer over this and wear it to work!
2 – Chanel Rouge Allure in Palpitante for £26
3 – Fancy Pink Pear Micro Drops from Carat London £574
4 – Alloway HIgh Low Dress from Coast for £195
Another option is to look around for dress rental companies. I have never used this option but there are a lot of great sites like Rent the Runway in the US or Chic by Choice in Europe. Don’t forget that you can also swap dresses with friends who are the same size as you. This is another great way to expand your wardrobe.
At the end of the day, you want to look really nice and these options are way better than doing unethical things like buying a dress and then returning it the next day.
Jewels, Jewels, Jewels!
You will probably also want some nice accessories to go with your outfit. the good thing is that the stores listed above often sell bags and shoes as well as dresses. You need some bling, bling! I am a big fan of pretty costume jewelry and these events are a great time to pull out a bit of the real stuff too. There are some great sites out there like Cadenzza, Carat London and Gemporia.
If you are heading to an event after a long, hard day at work, swapping into some dangling earrings or adding a bracelet or two is all you need to stand out. The photos below show me in a work dress from a company called Baukjen (Darton dress in black) with earrings from a company called MAWI, which designs some really cool modern, punk pieces. I basically swapped earrings and freshened up my makeup after work and then went on my merry way.
Hopefully, these tips will help make you look amazing while building a fun memory and helping a good cause.