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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Anakkar

How to get your perfect cocktail dress without breaking the bank

Updated: Mar 30, 2018

This can be tricky especially when there is so much on the market.

I wanted to expand more on this topic as I touched on it in my "Putting on The Ritz" blog but felt there was a lot more to say having been in this position myself.

Sometimes you feel like when you want, what I refer to as a "wow" dress, you have to spend a fortune in order to get it. This isn't always the case.

There are so many beautiful dresses out there that you don't need to break the bank.

With some thought, research and any specific requirements, it can be easier than you had anticipated. Anyone can get their perfect cocktail dress and here's how...

Natalia's top tips

1. Set a budget & stick to it! (Consider anything else you may need to complete the outfit and balance these costs).

2. Have some idea of a colour and style beforehand to make life easier when it comes to searching. Stuck for ideas? Get on those instagram and Pinterest pages for inspiration.

3. Get up 4 of your favourite sites and filter through to cocktail dresses, your size and colour preference.

4. Think of any accessories you may already have and want to use, this can help guide you with your decision.

5. Google search is your best friend so don't stress and use it to it's full potential. Type in keywords with descriptions for the dress you have in mind. Just tell it what you want, you may be surprised at the websites that come up that you never knew existed.

6. Be clever, when I went to The Ritz in my cocktail dress, you couldn't even see my shoes, only a brief flash of the heels when I hitched it up. So why buy a brand new pair of shoes to not have anyone even see them!

7. It's all about the dress! Don't be afraid to set the standards high and get a show stopping killer dress. Surely you want to make an entrance if you're getting all dressed up in the first place. Make an unforgettable entrance, trust me, you won't regret the way it makes you feel.

8. Be realistic. Diamonds are a girl's best friend but if you set your budget at say the £200 mark as I did, don't expect the likes of Chanel and Gucci Couture!

9. Buy at least 2 dresses if shopping online. You don't want to be disappointed if one arrives and isn't what you thought it would be. One is likely to be preferred so you can send the other back, like I did. If you aren't satisfied by either, learn from what you did and didn't like, return, and begin round two! You wouldn't know if you hadn't tried them so don't feel defeated.

10. Give yourself plenty of time, at least 3 weeks ideally. Remember you have a budget to work with and a certain style in mind, whether that be off the shoulders, backless or even a cross over dress. This is likely to take some time to find as you can't just throw money at any old dress and expect it to be the perfect style, fit and colour. This is a cocktail dress after all, not your usual day to day attire.

11. Shop for your body type and not the body type you wish to be. Imagine yourself in it and not just the leggy blonde model advertising it, but hey, maybe that's you anyway! Know what suits you and if you struggle, like I did as cocktail dressing was a whole new experience, go into the shops. Try on a few styles, see how you feel and take your friend, partner or mum (whoever's opinion you respect). This reassurance and second opinion is key for confidence and moving forwards to getting that dress just right.

12. Lastly, don't give up! There's a "wow" dress for everyone, you just need patience, inspirational pictures and the best of google!

If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely - Roald Dahl

Major tip

Cocktail dresses are long! Don't underestimate just how long. Many trail on the floor but don't be put off by this, it's what makes them special. I fell in love with my gold one even if it was slightly too long for me, even with my highest heels. I was lucky enough to have a lovely friend of mine who just so happened to be a seamstress and was happy to take it up for me. Use your contacts - friends, family, mother dearest, I'm sure they would be happy to help out if they could. The length is probably the trickiest bit when the dress arrives and fits like a glove, enhancing your body in just the way you wanted it to, but you take one step and almost fall flat on your face - no one wants this, god forbid! This is usually only the case for us petite girlies out there but never fear, I made it work so why can't you. Check out the petite range of cocktail dresses too as this may take out this factor all together. Just face this obstacle when and if you come to it, some dresses just need a bit of work and it's totally doable. This is the trend of the dress, you might just have to hitch it up when not posing for that perfect picture opportunity but don't worry, this is only natural! Everyone's doing it, how do you think all those actresses manage to walk down all those red carpets. Plus, if you do happen to fall, I really hope you don't, but please practise walking in it at home first with your heels on, just laugh it off! It will be memorable, that's for sure.

Happy shopping & good luck!

Love N x

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