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Guide to Finding an Evening Dress

Evening wear can be very hit or miss, but these guidelines will have you on every best dressed list.
Evening wear can be very hit or miss, but these guidelines will have you on every best dressed list.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

You may have a pretty good idea of what styles look good on you for work, casual Friday and weekend fun. Once twilight hits and the cocktails start flowing, sensible dresses can look boring -- and casual pieces can look inappropriate or even sloppy. If you don't spend your weekends reading about what this or that starlet wore on the red carpet last week, the idea of trading your comfy sweats for a little black dress or other dressy garment may have you hyperventilating long before you have to liberate the slimming undergarments from the bottom of your lingerie drawer.

With a couple of important exceptions, dressing for evening is a lot like dressing for daytime. It's still important to choose pieces that suit your body and lifestyle. It's also a good idea to stick with clothes you feel comfortable wearing that are still appropriate for the gathering. When you shop, this might seem challenging, especially while you're wading through rack after rack of evening dresses sporting cutouts, bright beading or skimpy lace inserts. Once you get past the sequined bodices and Day Glow fabrics though, there are always classic evening dress options that will make the most of your curves (or lack of curves) without creating a silhouette that's too revealing for comfort. Think Jackie O instead of Marilyn.

If, on the other hand, you want to make a big splash and show off your great shoulders, decolletage, or sculpted legs, evening is the time to do it. The right dress can make you the belle of the ball, and leave you feeling more confident than you ever thought possible.

On the next couple of pages, let's find the right evening dress for your body, your style and the occasion you have in mind.

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