Budget dresses?
December 1, 2008 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Help my girlfriend dress up for a party.

My girlfriend doesn't have any formal clothes and is gearing up for a holiday party... I'm a clueless male, so I just said "black? Comfy?"
Can someone offer advice? Ideally something not super expensive that she can wear other places as well. It's not a full tux type party, I'll be wearing a button up shirt, possibly a blazers, a belt.

She's never dressed up (ever, really), and I'm barely capable of
dressing myself. Suggestions?
posted by ®@ to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A simple black dress would probably be perfect.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:59 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Every woman needs a black party dress, and according to fake-Oprah, it's sweater-dress season.

Does she have a friend (or do you?) who is a good fashion-shopper? Hook up for an afternoon, turn off your defenses, and just do whatever they say.
posted by rokusan at 8:02 PM on December 1, 2008

Not sure where you are located, but just about anything on the "Little Black Dress" pages from the JCPenney website would work for any holiday party. Substitute other similar stores if you don't have a Penney's nearby or if her tastes range toward the more exotic/ecclectic.

There's a reason the Little Black Dress is so well known, it's a wardrobe staple that will never go out of style. It can be dressed up with rhinestones/diamonds/pearls, dressed down with a colorful scarf or jacket and can be worn to many, many occasions. Simple black heels, (low if she's not used to wearing them so she won't have sore tootsies all night long), and a pretty evening bag and she's be all set!
posted by ktpupp at 8:08 PM on December 1, 2008

What's her budget? Here's a simple black sweater dress for $60. Alternately, if she's not comfy in dresses, maybe some black trousers & heels with a festive blouse. Not sure how old she is, but StyleBakery can be a good source for inspiration.
posted by cucumberfresh at 8:10 PM on December 1, 2008

Depending on your girlfriend's body type, she might be able to find some good things at Forever 21. Some of their stuff is nice, but some of it is cheap and poorly made, so I'd recommend finding a store to try things on. It's all well-priced, though. A simple black dress is probably a good choice. She could add a colored belt or something, if she wanted.
posted by you zombitch at 8:20 PM on December 1, 2008

Target actually has a great selection of special occasion dresses if she's on a budget.
posted by MsMolly at 9:09 PM on December 1, 2008

MightyGoods, one of better-known shopping blogs, recently did a feature on black dresses from Target. If you can step up the budget a little, JCrew or Banana Republic usually have great black dresses. If she is under size-14, she could definitely go into either one, tell someone she wants a simple black dress and maybe a sweater or jacket to go with it.

If she doesn't want to show a ton of skin, a wrap-dress like this or this can work wonders. A nice necklace or pair of earrings, and she's all set (and won't freeze). She could wear it with tights too. An A-line means it goes out at the bottom (as opposed to being straight up-and-down) and flatters a variety of bodies. This has a simple A-line and a nice v-neck, which also flatters a variety of chests (unless it shows cleavage, and your girlfriend is uncomfortable with that).

If she hates the idea of a dress, ask for help getting a pair of nice black pants (not jeans) and a festive top. These satin ones are nice for the holiday season but not as appropriate in, say, April.

Accessories: very simple drop earrings (the kind that dangle from the lobe) or simple hoops. One way to add a bit of personality/energy to an outfit is through jewelry - if she sees nice red or coral or turquoise (or whatever) earrings at the store, hold them up to see if they'd be good with the dress. Ask someone! People in those stores usually love to help. Anything from here would be *lovely* (no relation, just been happy with her stuff at that price). And maybe add a clutch purse, if the idea doesn't freak her out.

Have fun!
posted by barnone at 9:48 PM on December 1, 2008

If you're near an H&M, they have some darn cute party dresses, too. (If she's not on board with the suggestion for black, red and ivory are both good holiday colors, too, that also wear well throughout the year.) She can wear any of them with some black heels, and add a little extra splash with a fun belt or some patterned tights.
posted by scody at 12:16 AM on December 2, 2008

My advice for buying a black dress is this - no ruffles, no sequins, no feathers. The plainer the dress the more things you can wear it to. And the longer it will (generally) take to go out of style.

I searched for over a year to find the right new black dress. So while I understand that she may be in a bind to get something "good enough" for this party, she will want o keep her eyes open for the perfect dress through time. Bonus points if she's keeping her eyes peeled at the sale racks.

I like having just one black dress - I can wear it to a funeral with a black wrap, and I can sparkle it up and wear it to a fancy dinner party. I got mine at White House/Black Market.
posted by bilabial at 5:10 AM on December 2, 2008

If she's not interested in the LBD option, she can shop for a taffeta or velvet skirt or pants, and a shiny silk or velvet top. I have a beautiful black velvet top, and wear it with either faded jeans, or a dressy skirt. Diligent shopping can turn up great party skirts at Goodwill.
posted by theora55 at 6:52 AM on December 2, 2008

Urban Outfitters has these sparkly sequined vests that she could throw over a plain black dress she already has and it would make it look even more festive and dressed up. And she wouldn't have to buy a whole new outfit.
posted by dm_nyc at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2008

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