Now I can’t say for sure what’s at the back of anyone else’s wardrobe, but I know mine is a little nest of several ball dresses that frankly just collect dust and get in the way when I pop over to see Aslan. You know how it is, there’s a formal event, and you don’t want to wear a dress you already have so you buy a new one and before you know it you have an army of dresses that you’ve worn once each and you’re broke and starting to think they might try to overthrow you. But never fear, I’m here to rescue you from your dress dilemmas!

It’s that time of year when everyone has a new formal dress- either for a wedding, a school ball, a graduation, or just because. In a sentimental moment today I tunnelled through to the far reaches of my wardrobe to retrieve the dress I wore to my school leavers’ ball TWO WHOLE YEARS AGO CAN YOU BELIEVE?!


Dress- Laura Ashley, shoes- Red Herring

By the time I bought it I had tried on what felt like several hundred hideous dresses, so I don’t think I even tried it on. I just spotted it in Laura Ashley and was relieved the whole search was over. I’ve never been one for bling, so it’s quite simple, and the pattern makes up for that. We often pay so much for formal dresses, and fall in love with them, so it’s a shame to wear them so infrequently. If you too have a relatively simple (even strapless!) ball dress, here are some handy additions that make it suitable for all occasions without altering the dress at all.

A casual jacket


Jacket- charity shop, shoes- Converse at Office

A jacket sets the tone for your whole outfit, so the easiest way to make your dress more casual is a denim jacket. This also screams summer, and people sort of expect long dresses more in summer. Sunnies and Converse keep those vibes going. I’m lucky that my dress has a pretty chilled out tribal pattern going on, but even a more formal chiffon dress can be worn out to the supermarket with the addition of a denim jacket. Cork- or wooden-heeled shoes would also work well if you’re not a trainer person (another shout-out to Mum).

A top


Top- Zara, shoes- Primark

Switching up the neckline of your dress can really give a different feel. Short sleeves, for example, are often very informal, so the addition of a top like this make it a lot more wearable day-to-day. A pattern, whether your dress is plain or not, can break up the sheer amount of the same fabric on display, making it less of a huge statement- it’s the equivalent of taking off a suit jacket. What I love about this particular combination is the pop of colour the top brings. The slight peplum also adds a bit of shape to my silhouette and stops me looking like a stick with sticks for arms (I believe the technical term is ‘tree’). I popped on flatform sandals for height (a safety precaution given the dress length) and to pretend like it’s sunny enough in Scotland.


Top- Topshop, necklace- H&M, shoes- New Look

The past two looks are fine for summer but as it gets colder we may have to rely on something else. I picked a velvet tee for a bit more of a spring/ autumn vibe. The muted colours and boots fit those seasons a lot better too. A chunky necklace pulls it all together. Again the neckline and sleeves contribute to the casualness. Because the top is slightly cropped, everything cinches in a bit at the waist so the layering doesn’t look frumpy. Pretty much anything cropped will go over a straight evening dress nicely!

A jumper


Jumper & boots- H&M

For my final and favourite look, I used a cropped jumper for an autumn/winter feel. Knits of any kind don’t really lend themselves to evening wear, so they are just perfect for transforming formal dresses. As I discovered, cropped tops are the best thing for the job. I just love how the patterns are similar but different- the monochrome base colours are constant but there’s still a lot of colour going on! Everyone should wear long skirts in winter because you could be wearing eight pairs of tights and fourteen pairs of socks and nobody would have any idea. I don’t know if I’d advise those exact numbers- I’ll test it out and report back! I added flat buckled boots for more of a cold weather vibe.

So there you go, with a few layers your treasured evening dress can also become your favourite day dress, in any weather! There are always lovely memories attached to these dresses, so it’s fabulous (not to mention cost-effective) to wear them more often. Mine reminds me of spending the evening with my best friends in beautiful weather, the ending of the school era. Blimey that was quite sentimental for me. I’ll blame that on the fact my iPod just shuffled onto The Script.

Until next time, my lovelies!

One thought

  1. Much yes! I was thinking about doing something like this with some dresses that are a little too formal for day wear that I picked up while charity shop shopping – problem solved 😀


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