“Quality over Quantity.” What that is really saying (besides the obvious) is that spending more on things (like clothes) can save you more in the long run because they will last longer. You only need to compare a Calvin Klein top to a Forever 21 top to know this is true. Now don’t get me wrong, I like fun cheap clothes just as much (if not more) than the next person but when it comes to pieces that you wear on only special occasions, it is worth it in the long run to get quality, classic pieces. One such closet item is a classic gown. I don’t mean a summer maxi-dress or a new years mini, I mean a true formal gown that you can wear to black-tie weddings, galas, and every other type of formal event from year to year. Many people don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on sweaters or jeans because you wear them so often that they show wear sooner and you feel like the lose their value. With pieces like a formal gown or suit, you wear them so infrequently that, as long as you maintain them and keep them clean, they should feel brand new every time you wear them. If a piece is going to last you a decade, it needs to be a classic cut to stand the test of (fashion) times.
When I was a junior in high school, I found a blue BCBG dress that I was immediately in love with. My parents, rational ones that they were, told me that they were not going to buy me this $3-400 dress for my Junior Prom. Fair enough. So I took down the details of the gown, saved a picture of the tag and gown on the computer, and a year later approached the topic again and my parents agreed to buy me the gown (I was also a really good student/athlete/child so that helped their decision making some too I think). I called so many different stores before one gown was located at a Bloomingdales in California. After a year on the market, there were only two of these dresses that could be located easily in the whole country! The dress was everything I remembered and more. The low cut front was sexy (for a 17 year old) without being too revealing and the flowing, billowy skirt made me feel beautiful and regal. You could just tell the dress was made with good material and craftsmanship.
Fast forward 10 years and I have now worn that gown 6 different times (that I can remember), to include this month on our cruise. It makes me feel just as sexy, beautiful, and regal at 27 as it did back then, and I get even more compliments every time I bring it out. I doubt my parents realized how much of an investment they made in my wardrobe back then but it is unbelievable how great it is to have a classic gown that has lasted a decade without showing wear or ever going out of style. It clearly does not see daylight every year, but that is what makes it so special to wear. I have personally purchased several other formal dresses in the last 10 years but if I could only keep one of them, it would be my Prom dress because it, above all others, can stand the test of time and trends thanks to the quality and cut it possesses.
Looking for a Classic Gown of your own?
Here are my tips for making your pick:
- Avoid “poof”
Ball gowns are stunning but they aren’t always as practical as an a-line or flared gown. The extra material may weigh you down, making you less likely to wear it in warmer climates as well. Ball gowns also tend to be strapless which, while a lasting, classic style for sure, just isn’t the most comfortable style, and I like dresses to be comfortable
- Pick a solid color
Prints may make you stand out, but if the print was “in” one year, that doesn’t mean it will be the next time you wear it. Animal prints are a good example of a print that makes it onto gowns a lot but goes in and out of style every few years. If you have to have a print, try and stick with a classic one like small polka-dots or vertical stripes but really, just stick with a solid.
- Avoid bright colors
That hot-pink or tiffany blue might seem like a good idea at the time but your skin color and hair color may change, causing some colors to look entirely different on you. Getting a fun yellow or pink cocktail dress is one thing because those colors lend themselves to semi-formal or less formal events. Similarly darker, richer colors and jewel tones lend themselves best for formal looks. Just the color alone can make something feel dressier.
- Avoid sequins
Ah I know! Another fun thing taken off the plate but, like goofy dresses, sequins can sometimes feel more specific to a certain type of formal event instead of all of them which may make you feel like you can’t always wear it. Sequins also tend to age a bit harder than a normal fabric as they fall off or get stuck on things every time you wear them. Trust me, I have 3 sequin gowns but they are not my go-to like my blue one.
- Watch the cleavage
This should be a little obvious but it still warrants being said. Some cleavage is perfectly fine if that is what you are comfortable with but try and keep them at least 1/2 covered up. You don’t want your chest to distract from the dress itself…or your face. Nothing wrong with it being a bit tight or even giving the illusion of cleavage. Just ask yourself what your dad would say if he saw you wearing it….lol
What are your thoughts? Do you like my picks? Do you have a quality piece that you have kept for a decade or more? Comment below!