Fashion & Style

The art of dressing up

By Jean Sanders
Info Guru,

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dressing up
Women have an array of choices when selecting evening wear.
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What to look for in women's evening wear

Women's evening wear is a clothing category that allows women to express themselves in many fanciful ways. There are few rules as to what is appropriate, so each woman can choose whatever suits her own style and personality. This flexibility is evident when watching award shows. Some celebrities have appeared in outfits that defied gravity while others seemed to have animals growing from their clothes.

Making an appropriate choice in ladies evening wear depends to a certain extent on the occasion, the level of formality needed and the climate. In spring and summer, light colored gauzy fabrics are often seen. There can be an element of whimsy about these dresses. Short dresses are popular for evening wear in warm weather, particularly for outdoor events.

In fall and winter, the general tone is more serious. While there are still many sleeveless and strapless gowns, they tend to be more structured. Taffeta, velvet, brocade and other rich fabrics are the norm. Black is always a popular color for women's evening wear in winter, but burgundy, deep blue and other dark, rich colors make fabulous alternatives.

Some women even choose tuxedo like pantsuits for evening events. This can be a great alternative in cold weather, although a long dress in a winter fabric worn with a coordinating shawl or a fur wrap can result in the same level of comfort.

Clothing stores online stand ready to meet women's needs for evening wear. The gowns are presented in clear photos usually showing both front and back. Many clothing websites provide measurements along with size numbers so women can get a better idea of whether the items will fit.

Some clothing stores online even offer a virtual try-on feature. The shopper fills out a form indicating her own measurements. The website then uses the measurements to design a virtual dress in the right size and display a picture of how it will look on screen. This takes away much of the concern that the dress will not fit.

In any case, when buying online, shoppers should read and understand the website's return policy. Many stores do not permit returns of evening wear as they fear customers will wear the gown once and return it to avoid being seen in the same dress twice.

Whether virtual try-ons are available or not, once the gown has been delivered, the shopper should try it on immediately to make sure it fits properly and is flattering. Be sure to put on the shoes you plan to wear with the gown to check the dress's length. Hemming the dress may be needed, but this is a simple procedure.

When actresses are interviewed as they walk the red carpet before award shows, one question they are always asked is, "Who designed your gown?" Designer evening wear has become a requirement for these posh events, so much so that many designers loan gowns to top stars at no charge.

Calvin Klein, Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Versace and more are popular with many of today's well known performers. But women aren't the only ones whose taste in clothes is an issue. Men have become fashion plates as well and will also be asked the source of their designer evening wear. Armani is well known for top quality suits and his tuxedoes have quite a following also.

Knockoffs of the most attractive gowns are usually available in stores within a few weeks of the award show at which they were first worn. These are unauthorized copies made to sell at prices regular people can afford. While a designer gown might cost $5,000, the department store copy will go for about $200.

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