7 Reasons Your Formal Dress Looks Cheap (and How to Pick Expensive-Looking One)

Remember, sparkles do not make a dress elegant or sophisticated. So, before picking a formal dress for your evening party, know first what makes a formal dress look cheap, so you’ll know how to pick expensive-looking one on a budget.

  1. The color of your dress is fluorescent-like and too bright.

body con metallic dress with classic pumps metallic gold dress

While high-end luxury brands like Chanel and Givenchy can make bright colors classy, if you’re looking for neon dress at a budget-friendly store, don’t expect it will look elegant as more often it won’t. When it comes to formal dresses, bright colors, fluorescent hues, glow-in-the-dark accents, and neon shades in general, are difficult to pull off. Metallic gold and silver may sound luxurious, but if the dress was made from cheap textile, most likely it looks cheap.

red cocktail dress with nude shoes

So, if you want to avoid looking cheap, it’s better to stick to neutral shades. But if you wish to wear a bold colored dress, go for jewel tones like cobalt blue, ruby red, or amethyst purple that looks classier.

  1. The embellishments of your dress are distracting and cheap.

bubbly party dress

metallic silver and black cocktail dress with peep toe boots

The embellishment that looks like jewelry is cheap, especially if it resembles a big necklace attached to your formal dress. Also, jeweled necklines and lightweight decorations make you look old while making your dress much less versatile. If you want to add some sparkle to your look, do it with bracelets, earrings, shoes, and bags, and remember that a little bit goes a long way.

glamorous lace up sandals with embellished blazer and black dress

Keep your necklines simple and stick to smaller decorations. Like fashion blogger Jennifer Selmanovic, think of a dress like a Balmain dress she’s wearing with chic accents that look like a part of the fabric, and not like they were just slapped on at the end. It’s also a good idea to stick with more abstract embellishments, which are less likely to distract from the overall look.

  1. The style of your dress is too cutesy like a Disney princess.

lace ballroom dress with sandals ruffled white dress with metallic sandals

Unless you are a ballerina performing on stage, tulle just looks childish, especially synthetic ones, which are just so stiff and coarse. Also, a lace dress with a fabric that was cut straight across, folded, and sewn to itself like any other fabric look cheap.

navy mermaid dress with clutch

You will look more womanly and sophisticated if you choose a dress that follows the lines of your body. Like fashion blogger Micah Gianneli, opt for a mermaid dress that looks whimsical yet elegant that hugs your womanly curves. If you miss the femininity of tulle, try lace accents for where the edges of the garment follow the pattern of the lace itself like scalloped ones.

  1. It looks like a short club dress under a long evening gown.

embellished sheer dress  with structured bag green mesh dress with cap toe shoes

If the sheer fabric being used was too simple or flat, that will look like wearing a short club dress under a long dress, that’s never an expensive look.

white maxi dress with color blocked clutch

If you like the look of lightweight, sheer evening dresses, make sure you choose one that has enough going on like pleats, abstract prints, embellishments, or enough fabric so that whatever is underneath doesn’t show through.

  1. It looks like two different dresses cut in half and sewn together.

color blocked lace dress lavander tank top with asymmetrical skirt

Color blocked dresses may be trendy, but it usually looks cheap. If the top and bottom part of your dress create a stark contrast, and with a complicated neckline featuring overworked and cut-out details above the waist and opaque tent happening below it, just like you tried to make an evening look with a big skirt and some loose rhinestones it looks cheap.

purple dress with gold shoes

Instead, stick to a single color to help balance a more revealing top with a more covered-up bottom.

  1. Those cutouts are cutting you in all the wrong places.

sexy black evening dress sexy lavender cut out dress

Cutouts can be sexy, but if they are not done correctly, they can make even the most expensive dress look totally trashy.

metallic black dress

Cutouts look more sophisticated when they are balanced. High slits, backless dress, plunging neckline, side cuts are great if placed one at a time, but not all together.

  1. The sheer nude mesh paneling isn’t fooling anyone.

burgundy lace gown with fur coat

A dress with sheer nude paneling that’s obviously a fabric and not your skin looks cheap.

sexy see through gown scalloped lace mesh dress

Nude mesh paneling can be great for smoothing over the exposed bits of skin that cutouts and more daring dresses often leave visible, but it only works if the sheer panels are very thin and actually match your skin tone. If the nude mesh doesn’t match your skin tone, better embrace plunging necklines and daring cutouts that expose your skin. With these style guidelines, you’ll be able to pick expensive-looking dress that will turn heads.

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