How to Pick the PERFECT Evening Dress
Insider’s Guide to: Buying an Evening dress...
Stars strut down the red carpet like they were born wearing bias-cut chiffon, but they had to start somewhere too. Here, mega-stylist Inge Fonteyn breaks down how to go about picking the perfect one.
Search for your dress at a department store. You’ll need a
lot of options—which boutiques don’t have—since designers all cut
differently, and use fabrics that fall differently. Try a variety on
to find one that works for you. If you feel department stores to be
overwhelming, utilize the sales people there who know the lay of the
land and what’s in stock and can gather everything for you, run and
get different sizes, or styles, and offer opinions (or not).
Try It On
Don’t limit yourself to buying a strapless dress because
that’s all you’ve ever worn before. If you think something’s
beautiful, give it a shot. The worst that happens is it doesn’t work.
Generally speaking I advise to avoid bias-cut dresses because they’re
hard to pull off—they pucker weirdly on people who aren’t pin-thin.
A-line dresses are universally flattering: They’re narrow on top but
flow ever-so-subtley out along the body so there’s a nice illusionary
And the Secret Weapon Is...
Foundation garments! Foundation garments are huge in Hollywood. So many
actresses who are already in great shape wear them under dresses to
create a smooth, tight silhouette— since you never know what things
look like from different angles. I like the ones that go all the way
from your ribcage down to the knees, like bike shorts—there’s no
tell-tale bulges or lines with them.
Find YOUR Material
I love evening dresses that are made of a sheeny metallic fabric. I
prefer softer shades that echo skin tone, not a blinged-out gold or
silver. It’s instantly dressy, and you can keep everything else simple
and still look dazzling.
Watch the Lighting
Lighting in the store is always bad, and there’s nothing you can do
about it. But the lighting is going to change everywhere you go, so
starting off in bad lighting means it can only get better elsewhere.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself in the dressing room. The only way to
beat tricky lighting is to keep your receipts so if you try on the
dress at home and realize it’s completely different, you can return
Bring Heels Along
Wearing heels totally changes the line of a dress, so bring a pair
along with you to try on with a gown. Also, don’t wear tons of layers,
tights or lace-up shoes that you’ll constantly be having to take on
and off. Jeans, a sweater and slip-on shoes, can all be easily slipped
Use a Tailor
Take advantage of stores in-house tailors—alterations are usually
included in the price of the dress, and the tailor will be trustworthy
with lots of experience in handling evening-wear. If that’s not an
option, don’t pass it off to your local drycleaner. If something’s
altered shoddily, it can ruin the garment for good. Find a quality
The miracle of tailoring can only go so far. It can re-fit straps,
shorten hems, tighten or let out a waist, but if what you want done
takes re-cutting the dress and doing a big overhaul, you’re better off
just buying a new one that fits right.
A nice alternative to a dress for evening is a slim-cut pair of tuxedo
trousers and a jacket. I like it with the jacket buttoned and no shirt
underneath. That’s very sexy.
Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!
Shoes really make or break a dress. Big, chunky ones can ruin a
gorgeous gown. Think simple but with pizzazz. My favorite is a strappy
metallic heel. It goes with every color and style of dress you could
imagine. Christian Louboutin really makes amazing soft pink metallic
heels that are so delicate and ethereal.
No Tights for You!
Unless we’re talking about statement stockings like old-school seamed
stockings or fishnets, I avoid hosiery like the plague. Put some self
tanner on your legs instead, it looks so much chicer.