Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Putting a formal outfit together for less than $100

I own lots and lots of cocktail dresses. Most of them are kind of boring: just plain little black dresses that don't really come to life until you put them on and add some accessories and spindly heels. However, my closet is desperately lacking floor-length gowns, especially of the formal kind.

This has never really been a problem until now. On Friday, I am attending a big banquet at the City Hall of Stockholm (Golden Hall pictured above)... and needless to say, the dress code is formal. Ouch!

I wasn't entirely happy about that... there are so many other lovely clothes that I'd rather spend my money on than a full-length formal dress. Also, I'm assuming it needs to be on the conservative side, as this is not exactly a film festival or fashion event (where I would have felt so much more comfortable)! So what to do? I headed uptown with high hopes to check out Michael's, A Second Chance, La Boutique and the other designer consignment stores - but found nothing! Don't people sell their formal wear on consignment anymore? Or aren't there any formal events going on during the recession, meaning no gowns are being bought in the first place?

Whatever it is, I could not care less. I went back downtown and got myself some cheap vintage and street vendor jewelry to go with it. Below is the outfit I put together... and it cost me no more than $77! Let's just hope it's formal enough - I am actually not sure about that, but who's going to notice after a few glasses of champagne? Cheers!

  • Olive chiffon vintage dress, Ralph Lauren (Tokyo Joe, $52)
  • Gold feather dangle earrings (Union Square street vendor, $10)
  • Peacock hairpiece (Union Square street vendor, $15)
  • Gold bangles (my closet)
  • Powder pink sandals with chain detail, Manolo Blahnik (my closet -- pardon my bad pedi)
  • Dark aqua furry purse with brooch and chain detail (my closet, gift from designer)


  1. Pretty, pretty, pretty. Please, no champagne is required - you'll look like a million bucks. I can't believe you put that ensemble together for $77. Street vendors are the best - gorgeous wares for gorgeous prices! So...where will you be wearing your formal outfit? :)

  2. NICE! I found myself in this dilemma when I worked for a PR firm back in the 90s. Only with them it was a new formal dress every few months. I found a place near me called Celebrations that rented formal gowns. I loved the experience so much, I even rented my wedding gown from them. I didn't mean to...I was actually in there looking for bridesmaid dresses but I fell in love with this one dress. I wouldn't recommend it, though, because it was a little nail-biting, worrying that someone else would rent my dress in the months in between and ruin it.

  3. It's all about the accessories. I believe even if it's a simple floor length dress, the right accessories will put the ooomph in the outfit. You have chosen well... that's a pretty gown.

  4. Well done - good work on the budget and just add sparkle and attitude and it will be a winner! The items look lovely x

  5. Quite a feat, darling! Love it!


  6. so great outfit! I love cute and facies NYC girls!

    Thanks so much for your sweet comments!
    It means a lot for me :)



  7. i love the quirky touches like the fur purse & peacock hairpiece! i miss getting dressed up for formal events (the last time i got to was prom a few years ago)!

  8. your outfit looks pretty snazzy! it is about accessorizing correctly. : )

  9. Hi, somehow, somebody lead me here in your nice blog and I am so glad to be here. :)

  10. I love gowns. Check out my friend's store Frock sometime http://frocknyc.com/ I've gotten some great stuff from him. Some of my best gowns are from Allan & Suzi though: http://www.allanandsuzi.net/

  11. Thanks for all your comments! You know how I usually like to respond individually to everyone who took their time... but I just came home from an 18-hour freaking work day and suddenly feel very sleepy. Will definitely check out the stores mentioned - renting is gold!


  12. love this post ! and your blog is great !

  13. wunderful post. i like the brooch. a ball is always a wunderful thing.

    i add you to my blogroll

  14. Thanks ladies! Yes, I love this type of events... I don't get to go too often, so it's always a treat when I get invited. :)

  15. You will look smashing :-). I gave a girl a ghd makeover today at NK. She was going to the event as well :-)


Related Posts with Thumbnails