I believe that we should feel perfectly free to wear everything all the time, and that includes our fancies. Why should our best, spendiest, and potentially most gorgeous items languish unworn? The dress above is vintage, lined with silk, and made entirely from bright red lace. Not something that could pass for work wear? I beg to differ! Throw on a few casual accessories and it’s 100% office-friendly.
To help me further prove this point, the wonderful folks at Flutter Boutique here in Minneapolis lent me a few dresses to play around with.* Flutter’s selection is absolutely mouthwatering, people. Simple, chic frocks in a rainbow of lush colors and sumptuous fabrics. Now, I’ll admit that all three of these dresses are pretty minimal, and might be able to pass for workwear on their own … but since they’re all made from slightly shiny silk shantung and have darned fancy necklines, I’d wager they’d turn a few heads worn solo.
So! Here are my recommendations for dressing down a bridesmaid dress:
Here’s our first victim, worn alone. It’s a stunning silk sheath with a flattering crossover neckline. And a plunging one at that! This dress is by a company called Simple Silhouettes, and dang, I want everything from their line.
Throw on a bolero sweater to cover up that plunge, and add a kicky scarf and tall boots for a sassy-but-modest ensemble. I’ve matched my bolero to the dress here, but a contrasting color would work just as well!
For an even more modest look, try a blazer. Tuck a longer scarf into the blazer’s opening and add a funky brooch for interest. Tall boots complete the look.
My, my, isn’t that a lovely dress? Those elegant straps, the fitted bodice, the rich color … I drool. Plus it’s got pockets! Also by Simple Silhouettes.
Or if you REALLY want to dress it down, layer a straight-silhouette shirt dress on top and belt it. You can barely tell that it’s a formal dress under there, am I right? Yet that rich color and gorgeous fabric still peek through.
This glorious red dress is clearly the fanciest of the three, with its slightly-off-the-shoulder straps and ruched waist. Worn alone with matching pumps, it looks wedding-ready. This lovely is by designer Jenny Yoo.
A patterned cardigan makes the perfect foil to all that fance. Chunky jewelry and simple peep-toes polish off the look.
Or for something more on the arty-funky side, pick a blazer in a contrasting bright, matching pumps, and a colorful statement necklace.
So! Let’s review your arsenal of dress-down tools:
- Straight-cut shirt dresses
- Tall boots (works best for above-the-knee dresses)
- Casual belts
- Fun brooches
- Statement necklaces
- Chunky jewelry – bracelets, earrings, necklaces in fun shapes and bold sizes
Will these techniques work on a strapless, floor-length chiffon gown encrusted with sequins and beading? No, they won’t. I’ll grudgingly admit that there are a few items that simply cannot be dressed down, and I’m sure a few of you lovely readers have bridesmaid or special-occasion frocks hanging in your closet that no cardigan will transform. But simply cut dresses in solid colors – be they abandoned bridesmaid frocks, cocktail dresses, or general special occasion garments – CAN be made to look utterly appropriate for everyday wear.
Huge thanks to Flutter Boutique for loaning me these aaahhhhmaazing dresses! Oh, how I wish I could’ve kept them all …
Disclosure: I was not given any of these dresses to keep, and returned them to Flutter once my review was completed. CMP.ly/0