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by Holly

While I sometimes intend to do more coherent posts, I so frequently run across pretty little things in my searching that I just HAVE to share! Becca’s own “fun” posts will be showing up soon – for Becca’s favorite things, look for “Sparklies”.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about formal attire. As an Army wife, a lot of my friends are gearing up for the holiday season, and one of the funnest things about being an Army wife is having an excuse to dress up in pretty, formal, elegant gowns! We have invitations to balls, dining outs, and parties, and many of us have a lot of trouble finding the right look for these formal events. There are a few unwritten rules for military formals, not the least of which is that a woman who shows up in “clubwear” gets the stink-eye! Dresses for military formals are expected to be elegant but also at least somewhat modest – high slits, plunging necklines, and exposed midriffs are not generally considered appropriate. Further complicating the matter is that the women wearing these clothes are actually WOMEN – we come in all shapes and sizes, and prom dresses designed for 17-year-olds don’t always look that great on those of us in our thirties! So to help out a few of my friends, I’m going to share a few of the pretties I’ve found that might be appropriate for grown-up parties.

Sheath dress with train

This gown retails for $450-500, but I have a source! I can get this for $300! If you like it, just contact me, and I’ll hook you up!

This dress is one that I would love to see, if you’ve got the figure to pull it off! (I don’t!)

Here’s what I love about it:

I love the lace along the neck and the back – it’s so feminine and really draws the eye up toward the face. I LOVE this color! It’s got just enough POP to stand out but no so much that it’s going to put you in the spotlight. Plus, this tone will pair nicely with a Soldier’s Class A’s!

I also love the beautiful brocade along the sheath; I feel like it adds a gorgeous element of elegance to the entire look.

Finally, I think the train is positively gorgeous! I love the fabrics used on the dress and the train. Despite the same tone, there’s a lovely contrast between the brocade of the gown and the satin of the train.

Now sheath gowns are amazing! Talk about making a statement! Unfortunately, they’re kind of like skinny jeans – you really have to have a certain body type to pull them off. And after multiple moves, multiple kids, and a VERY busy schedule, some of us have a little extra padding!

Pleated Gown

This dress comes in blue, green, red, and violet, and normally retails for $280. As usual, we don’t expect you to pay full price! Contact me and I can find this for about $160!

Now for those of us who need something with a little more design help to flatter our figure, I just love these vertical pleats. Like the previous gown, this is floor-length, but you can easily see how these design elements can be implemented to help accentuate your positive features.

Here’s what I love about this dress:

The one-shoulder design with the gathered bodice helps to draw the eye upward, particularly with the rosette on the shoulder.

Like the last dress, the colors will coordinate beautifully with an Army dress uniform. This dress does have some additional color options, too, but it is a bit brighter than the previous gown.

These vertical pleats cause the appearance of elongation. The dress makes you look taller and more slim.

The wrapped bodice provides a great cover for any belly problems while still allowing the breasts to be accented. It’s modest enough to meet with the approval of the Commander’s wife, but still youthful and attractive enough to meet with the approval of the husband! 😉

Finally, the pleated skirt hides the most typical “problem areas” for mature women: the hips, the belly, and the rear end!

But the fact is that some of our military wives are a bit larger, and they deserve to look and feel beautiful, too! Now this is a harsh truth, but it needs to be said: Larger women cannot wear the same styles as smaller women and still look fabulous. BUT that doesn’t mean that they can’t still look fabulous. The key to looking great at any size is accepting yourself for who you are; then you can find clothes that fit YOU.

When it comes to plus-size fashions, there are a few things I like to consider.

This gown retails at $460, but the discount price is $230!

This gown retails at $460, but the discount price is $230!

First: color! Pretty colors are so very, very, very important for plus-size women! A lot of larger women tend to choose dark, drab, or boring colors because they try to hide in the crowd, but if you’re looking amazing, why hide out? The color on my favorite plus-size dress is a moderately dark tone, so it’s still slimming, but there’s enough light to it that you won’t look like you’re trying to blend in with the wallpaper!

Second, neckline. Most plus-sized women are also blessed with a beautiful decolletage, so a great dress will show that off! This lower V-neck helps to accentuate that, while the sparklies on the shoulder help to keep the focus from lingering too long on your cleavage!

Third, waistline and cut. The higher waistline and fuller cut of this gown help to provide additional room in the belly, hips, and butt – that helps to hide those larger spots. I can’t point out the cut without commenting on the fabric as well. Different fabrics drape differently. In the first dress in this article, the heavy brocade and satin drapes in a way that looks sleek and smooth. For larger women, a dress with a softer hand (especially on the skirt) is a great option. That softer hand makes the dress swish and flow, providing additional movement and concealment.

Finally, I love the pretty details on this dress. The sleeves – with the sheer, flowing fabric, help to conceal any problems with the shoulders and upper arms, while also providing a bit more movement around the upper body. This is a dress designed to conceal flaws and attract attention where you want it: to your chest, shoulders, and face.

So that’s all I have for this week! But I’ll be back later on in the week with my “Look of the Week” – my own budget version of a high-end designer look. And Becca will join us later on in the week with her Sparklies and her OWN Look of the Week (because we have vastly different tastes in fashion!), so we’ll see you again soon!