how to create an affordable formal event outfit little party dress

How To Create An Affordable Formal Event Outfit

May 17, 2017

This year, Herman and I have been asked to attend no less than three weddings – and I LOVE it. I love attending weddings – so much love, so much fun. In my opinion, attending a wedding is more fun than actually being in one! On top of the weddings, there are quite a few other dressy events coming up that I’m starting to look at outfits for. And, I always get asked as to what to wear to events (like this post from last month), so I thought I’d put together an outfit and also my top tips for how to create an affordable formal event outfit.

When a function’s dress code is black tie or formal, to me that means a floor length dress for women and a suit or tuxedo with a black tie (usually a bow) for men. Finding a ‘formal enough’ looking gown on a budget (and for this blog, under $100) is a difficult task.

In my opinion, you have four options.

1. Borrow a dress or outfit from a similarly-sized friend. Most ladies have one or two long dresses hanging in their wardrobes – be it old ball gowns, wedding attire or even bridesmaid dresses. With a few updated accessories, you can make an old dress look like new.

2. Hire a dress from an online hire store. This is a good option if you want to wear a fancy, expensive dress on a budget. There’s quite a few companies offering this service, I’ve used GlamCorner before and had a fantastic experience.

3. Check out your local op shops, secondhand designer stores or Facebook buy shop sell pages for a dress. You will find plenty of formal-ready outfits that would have only been worn once in most occasions!

4. Buy an outfit from the high street. There are many stores online where you can find a perfect formal dress. Try Little Party Dress, ASOS, The Iconic, Forever New, Dissh, St Frock or Forcast for budget friendly options. Add a few accessories and some heels and you’re done. Two of my best investments have been a strapless black ball gown with a sweetheart neckline from Forcast a long time ago; and a long, navy maternity maxi dress from ASOS. My favourite black tie or formal idea is a plain coloured dress with some sparkly accessories and hair curled and loosely pinned up. Grab a box clutch and you’re done!

If I am purchasing an outfit for an occasion, I try to be inspired by the top trends – this makes my outfit feel a bit current. It doesn’t have to be an expensive update, either – try adding this season’s earrings or clutch to an old faithful little black dress, for example.  Trends I am loving in formal wear at the moment are:

  • silk or satin
  • red, blush pink or black
  • velvet
  • one shoulder styles
  • cross over front styles
  • jumpsuits or matching two piece suits
  • metallics and oversized hardware
  • navy
  • sheer panelling
  • lace
  • structured shoulders.

Today I’ve put together a look I think would easily work for any formal or cocktail event – even black tie. For a winter occasion, I usually look for a dress with long sleeves to prevent the ‘how to keep warm’ conundrum, and I look for a bit of extra detailing.

I usually go neutral with accessories – pulling out one accessory to be the statement if the dress is a block colour (clutch or earrings, usually). This keeps the look simple whilst respectful of the event.

This dress is from Little Party Dress and is $74.95. It also comes in navy and wine colours, which would all work well for any winter event. The front is quite low cut, and I’ve pinned it here, but for an event I would sew a few stitches in it to keep it from coming open. In this sense it is very breastfeeding friendly, too.

I love the sleeves – they’re sheer with a polka dot finish. The green colour is right on trend – and it’s a bit unexpected which I like. The accessories are Colette and Spendless Shoes (and girls, the three strap stiletto is bang on trend and these also come in black and beige!) What do you think?

little party dress whisper maxi dress nursing breastfeeding formal dress how to create an affordable formal event outfit little party dress how to create an affordable formal event outfit little party dress little party dress whisper maxi dress nursing breastfeeding formal dress how to create an affordable formal event outfit little party dress

*Little Party Dress whisper dress AUD$74.95 {I’m wearing 10, true to size} | *Spend-less Shoes goddess heels AUD$49.99 | *Colette by Colette Hayman clutch, not online yet but this one would work well AUD$34.99 | *Colette earrings, also not currently online however try these AUD$17


This post contains affiliate links which means if you click to buy I may earn a small commission however you do not pay any extra. 

Do you have any special events coming up soon? Do you have any tips for dressing for one on a budget? 


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