Determine the dress code – Dresses need to be appropriate, so make sure your read your invite closely to determine just how formal the party may be. Your flirty little number may look fantastic, but you don’t want to be the only one in a mini amongst a sea of long, formal gowns. Is the neckline cut too low? Can you dance comfortably in it, or will you be forever tugging at the skirt to stop it riding up?
Look for unique details – Party wears are a cut above your everyday wear and should accordingly feature some extra special details. If bright colour isn’t your thing, there are many ways you can elevate the LBD to a knock-out party dress: stand out in a luxurious fabric or interesting textured finish; look out for unique cuts and structure to add interest; go for an eye-catching print (if florals aren’t your thing, recent technological advances have paved the way for some truly remarkable digital prints); or choose a frock with exquisite detail, from embroidery and embellishment to appliqué.
Be inspired – Look around for inspiration, from magazines to movies, and discuss ideas with your friends (if only to avoid turning up in the same dress as your best friend!). Maybe go into a shop you’ve never ventured into before; you’ve got nothing to lose and may end up finding a gem of a dress. Keep track of the party dresses you liked and where you saw them.
Trust your instinct – It may sound obvious, but when buying a new party dress and potentially spending a significant sum of money, you need to genuinely like the dress, and consider whether you’d wear it again. Don’t be seduced by a flash-in-the-pan trend. Such a fad will likely limit the amount of times you can wear your party wear and can end up looking forced if it isn’t really ‘you’. Have fun with details (see above), but stick with what you know and like. Trust your gut feeling – you’ll probably know when you’ve found the right one (invariably, it’s one of the first dresses you looked at, about seven shops and three hours ago!).