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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

5 places to find a modern ball dress...

Prom is a distant memory of mine. A stressful, teenage haze of hormones and self-doubt. Insecurity and pressure ran hand-in-hand with this coming-of-age, once-in-a-lifetime event. Americanized, over-hyped, over-photographed. My life has, thankfully, moved on.

Yet now, as a 25 year old woman, I find myself yet again anxiously trawling the internet for ball gowns.

I have an Oxford ball to attend at the end of the month, likely to be attended by undergrads, postgrads, and a mix of guests, partners and in-betweens. My day to day nowadays is pretty solidly filled with the variable concerns of work, being a partner, house chores, money concerns. Yet for one night only, I get to pretend I am a teenager again with two girl friends and put on a sparkly dress, to galavant the night away with drinks and food and dancing. The last Oxford ball I went to, for my own college, was without a doubt the best event I have ever been to; I beamed even as I struggled to catch a taxi on the sleepy streets of Oxford when it finally crawled to a finish at 6am. All night we feasted, danced, slid gracelessly down the helter skelter, and generally had a ball. I am hoping this one will be similar.

But that begs the ever-tiresome question...what do I wear?

I am feeling the same teenage nerves of wanting to fit in, to be fashionable, to be flattered. I have wobbly arms and a wobbly tummy that I want to disguise. I have, this time, been on enough nights out to know that I want to still be comfortable and able to dance my butt off at 4am - which introduces the question of heels or flats? High heels or courts? The myriad of options before me is exhausting. All I know is that the dress itself needs to be floor-length (a la dress code of black tie), flattering and affordable.

 I therefore thought that I would try to collate some of the best options out there for formalwear. When you google 'ball gown' or 'prom dresses' the results are lurid, ad-filled and overwhelming. I am scared to accidentally buy something on eBay that ends up looking like a cheap wedding dress. I am scared to spend more money than I can afford to on a dress that will likely be for this one night only (I have become insufferably sensible in that sense). I am scared to look huge, uncomfortable, or like I'm trying too hard (the likelihood is that I will end up doing all 3). This, therefore, is a list of some of the sites and dresses that seem to be the most fashionable, accessible, flattering, and good value for money. The theme for my ball is 'Garden of Eden', which may have effected some of the choices here, but is also a theme I'm taking on board very loosely indeed...!

1. Maya dresses at Asos seem to be both pretty and delicate with soft colour palettes and gorgeous detailing. There are plenty of beautiful nude options as well as rich midnight blues. The only danger I have on the formal section of ASOS is that the options quickly veer into bridalwear/bridesmaid gowns, but I think the key there is in the styling.

This One Shouldered Embellished Maxi Dress retails at £120. It is soft, feminine and a flattering shape. I love the way it has been styled with long, flowing hair and some minimal hair accessories. I think this could work really well in the quads of an Oxford college, and really passes off as being 'garden-esque'! The flowing one-shoulder is both unusual in a ball gown and provides coverage for those self-conscious about their upper arms (i.e. me). The nipped waist still allows for a feminine silhouette. A great little dress.

2. This ASOS Cutaway Embellished dress retails at £75 and is a beautiful mix of nude pink with sharp accents of turquoise and beading. The neckline is also an interesting scooped shape with a cutaway racer style, offering a conversation-sparking and pretty alternative to a low cleavage. Also, super affordable.

3. Jarlo London have a succession of chic formal dresses with beautifully fitted silhouettes.

This Chelsea Navy Dress retails at £85 and follows a fishtail form. The rich colour with its intricate neckline and lace detailing is stunning, and I think it looks a lot more expensive than it is. Jarlo have a great selection of dresses that all have this effortlessly elegant feel and are overall very reasonably priced. A great website to have a peruse of.

4. Ted Baker offer a stunning range of occasion wear if you have a slightly larger budget. Their statement pieces still retain a feminine soft edge which I love.

This Oriental Blossom Maxi Dress hits the purse strings at £229. It is, however, a beautiful print, colour and shape and could easily be worn again at weddings, Christenings and the like in order to make that higher price tag stretch further. That pleating down the front is such a lovely feature. Also, if your event is slightly less strict dress-code-wise than mine, Ted Baker offer a great selection of shorter, yet still formal, options.

5. Frock and Frill also offer a great selection of dresses, with some really unusual and vintage-inspired pieces.

The Arianne Embellished Maxi Dress retails at £165; The Yalena Skater Dress in blush is £135; the  Zelda Flapper Dress is also £135. Loads of Gatsby-style frocks here with tonnes of detail and all with a unique edge.

I hope that one of these options at least inspires you. There are affordable and flattering options out there...they just require a little research. I will be back with a post about what I finally decide to wear in the near future...

In the meantime, please comment below your favourite dress/where you bought your prom or ball gown from. I need all the help I can get!

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  1. I agree with all of these. It's so hard to find good quality, but not too expensive dresses nowadays.. these are some amazing suggestions x

  2. It's so tricky to find a lovely modern dress! Definately helped inspire me!


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