Personal Outfit Style

5 Rules for Choosing Your All Occasions Dress

8T3A3718 copy

There is such a thing as an all occasions dress. Here are my 5 rules for choosing one.

Burgundy Maxi DressFame and Partners | Hat – Sarah J Curtis | Shoes – Converse | Bag – Proenza Schouler

Growing up with migrant parents who were concerned with little else than my grades, let’s just say sartorial etiquette was not on the curriculum. Yours truly circa 2001 was wearing jeans to the gym and had never known any shoe that was not a sneaker, which was worn with absolutely everything. But were these faux pas so absurd? In my mind, jeans were perfectly comfortable to work out in, and sneakers were a superior shoe, whichever way you look at it.

We are so often pressured by society’s little rules to buy single purpose one time wear clothing, destined only to be donated to charity years later. Occasion dresses are just such a repeat offender. I was so inspired by my insanely cool friend who got married in a thrifted wedding dress, and then cut the hem short to wear every day. According to the Beige Renegade brand of minimalism, a dress should be able to go the distance: slip on heels for that swanky party, swap for thongs for the beach, then pull on sneakers for a farmer’s market run. All occasions dresses do exist, and here are my 5 rules for choosing one.

1 The longer the better

The single most significant factor that determines the occasion appropriateness of a dress has got to be its length. Semi-formal events call for at least below the knees, and white tie requires a full length gown, so longer dresses will be your common denominator. Here, I’ve sought to strike a happy balance with this split maxi-dress from Fame and Partners. It’s long enough to pass the formal dress code, but the (not insensible) split will also fit in at semi-formal and casual occasions.

2 Keep it simple

A sure fire way to keep a dress occasion neutral is to choose a simple but elegant design. Opt for loose fitting or draped styles rather than bodycon, and steer clear of frills like ruffles, ruching and embellishments.

3 Go matte

Shininess and bling will instantly give a dress a decidedly ‘evening’ vibe, so choose a matte fabric rather than glossy. As a rule, silk and satin are on the formal side of the scale, but then again I myself love a satin singlet dress to style down for every day. Therefore this rule and number 2 should be considered at the same time.

4 One statement feature

Your all occasions dress should be simple, but still make a statement for formal occasions. Choose one with one statement feature which won’t be out of place for daywear. Think distinctive neck, sleeve and back designs, like the crisscrossing straps on my Fame and Partner’s dress.

5 Not to dull and not too vivid

Certain colours are obvious choices for evening wear, such as gold, black and ruby red. However, these will limit your options for day wear. The converse will be apply for decidedly casual colours like grey and khaki. Patterns and prints are also generally confined to the casual realm. As a loose rule, a colour that is not too vivid or too dull will generally go the distance for all occasions. I love the shades in the blue and red family, like burgundy, navy and plum, and pretty much every tint or pastel colour.

8T3A3745 copy8T3A3901 copy8T3A3752 copy

Shop the full range of dresses for all occasions at Fame and Partners.

Incredibly important minimal style tips to your inbox? Join my mailing list or follow me on Blog Lovin’!

You Might Also Like

  • Joy
    15 July 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Absolutely love this pink dress, so feminine

    16 July 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Stunning look! Love the edit in the photos 😉

  • Osiarah
    16 July 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Keep it simple! Love the article and how you look, beautiful dress. Nice work there!

    Osiarah xx

    • Jiawa Liu
      18 July 2016 at 10:48 am

      That’s definitely my rule to live by, hun! Thanks for reading!

  • Sia Foch
    17 July 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Always on point and always so stylish! Love your photos and these tips, simple and perfect.

    -xx, Sia

    • Jiawa Liu
      18 July 2016 at 10:48 am

      Aw thank you love!

  • Nuris Ely Setyo
    18 July 2016 at 2:38 am

    Simple tips for dressing

    • Jiawa Liu
      18 July 2016 at 10:47 am

      I hope you found them useful!

  • Jenelle
    19 July 2016 at 7:20 pm

    I really love how simple this dress is. One thing that is overdone is the evening dress, but of course it is far more practical and beautiful if it is comfortable and re-wearable too. I love seeing you in these rich tones too J.

    xx Jenelle

  • Nora
    26 July 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I love this post! I’m always such a lover of beautiful dresses but always avoid purchasing because of the lack of return on investment in terms of wear. Definitely going to consider these tips.


  • Mercy
    29 July 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Love the back straps, sexy and chic. Your tips are on point, so true especially the matte fabric.

  • Melissa Araujo
    2 August 2016 at 8:58 am

    looking amazing and nice touch with the sneakers to take some of the edge off xx

  • Mary Kay
    28 September 2016 at 6:27 am

    Excellent points!! I have so many that I have only worn once. So important to have a go to for several occasions!! Love your silky dress. Great color on you! <3

    xo, Mary Kay

  • %d bloggers like this:
    Read previous post:
    How to wear knitwear for the office and off-duty

    How you can blur the lines of office and off-duty with the right knits and the right styling I'm wearing:...