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Affordable Evening Dresses
Best fabrics for making evening dresses
To help you with your mission to create your perfect red carpet dress, we have selected the 7 best fabrics to assist you in your mission. If you are confused by all of the different fabrics available, and are unsure of what the difference is between organza and chiffon, or Georgette and tulle, then we are here to help.
Different fabrics suit different silhouettes and cuts. Remember to consider your fabric very carefully, to ensure that it is the right one for your perfect dress.
Velvet is a gorgeous choice for a red carpet worthy gown. The shine, the depth, the richness, the drama, all make this fabric perfect for a sexy, vampy, feminine dress. Some qualities we love about velvet include:
- A strong and beautiful sheen
- A soft and elegant drape
- A shimmering surface
- Very soft and textured to the touch
- Strong and durable
- Smooth and touchable
Velvet can be woven from silk or synthetic fibres. It has a short, dense pile and is most traditionally used for formal or evening wear, but the fashion industry has fallen in love with this rich fabric, and velvet fabric and clothing is becoming more and more popular.
Our choice – Marbled Velvet
Marbled Velvet is a contemporary take on a classic. This stylish and opulent fabric is soft and luxurious and has a unique pile, which goes in all directions. This creates a “marbled” effect, and allows the fabric to shift and change colours, depending on the light. If you are looking for a velvet with a difference, then try using Marbled Velvet to make your evening dress.
Chiffon is a beauty of a fabric, which is available in several different versions. It can be constructed from silk, cotton, rayon or synthetic fibres. It is a very fine and lightweight fabric, which gives a beautiful drape, making it an ideal choice for red carpet gowns. Some other unique chiffon characteristics include:
- A plain weave
- Made from loose and tightly twisted yarns
- Soft and supple
- Drapes and gathers well
- Fine and transparent
- Generally taut
Silk chiffon fabric is a popular choice for elegant and formal evening wear. Chiffon gets its unique handle from the twisted yarns in its construction. It is a mostly sheer fabric, which needs some practice to work with, thanks to its fine and thin nature. Nevertheless, it is worth it! Dresses made from chiffon look and feel so special and feminine; perfect for standing out at your next do!
Our choice – Paris Chiffon
Paris Chiffon is a soft and silky fabric, which is fine and light. Air passes through easily, making it ideal for formal summer dresses. This chiffon flows beautifully over the body and is slightly less see through than other traditionally transparent fabrics. Create a dress with a flowing skirt, to show off the pure beauty of this fabric.
This lovely fabric is traditionally made with silk, but, it can also be made from synthetic yarns, such as polyester. It is a distinctive fabric, which has characteristics unique to itself, some of these include:
- A crinkly, crepe like texture
- Feels slightly rough and dry
- A bouncy, flowing drape
- Constructed from highly twisted yarns
- Has a tight weave
- Strong and holds up well to wear
Georgette is always a popular choice when it comes to making gowns and evening dresses. It holds up well to embroidery and applications, such as beads and sequins, although these should be kept light and to a minimum, so they don’t pull the fabric out of shape. Thanks to its springy nature, you can have a lot of fun creating flowing, feminine dresses.
Our choice – Poly or Silk Georgette
You can opt for a stunning Poly Georgette or a 100% Real Silk Georgette at Contrado. The poly combines the sheer beauty of a silk Georgette, with the durability and strong colour reproduction of polyester. It is soft, dry and strong, with the lightweight and sheer qualities of the real silk version. The silk Georgette is airy and delicate, and has a wonderful gossamer appearance, thanks to the very thin threads used in its construction.
This woven, flowing fabric is always a popular choice, when it comes to elegant formal wear. With a tightly-woven construction, made from twisted fibres, crepe has a lot of wonderful properties, which makes it a favourite choice for dressmakers:
- A slightly creased/wrinkled appearance
- A grainy, textured surface
- Matte face
- Flexible with a 2-way stretch
- A graceful drape
Crepe is known for its crinkled, or pebbled texture. This effect gives the fabric a lot of character, and, combined with its soft handle and stunning drape, crepe is a much loved fabric in the fashion world. Crepe is also easy to shape and work with, so when it comes to making your own dress, crepe is a great fabric to get started with.
Our choice – French Crepe Light
A double knit, custom crepe, which is constructed from highly spun yarns, French Crepe Light will give your dress a breathtaking drape and finish. It has a soft and silky handle, and, despite being quite lightweight, it holds shape well and has body. We love French Crepe for dressmaking, because it has a good 2-way stretch, so it is flattering and forgiving.
Satin is one of the most popular choices when it comes to formal evening wear. And it isn’t difficult to see why! This chic and opulent fabric has a wonderfully shiny face, which adds depth, movement and drama. Some other notable characteristics of satin include:
- A sleek and glossy face
- Woven fabric with a very specific weave
- Can be made from silk, cotton, wool, and synthetics
- Typically has a dull back
- Highly lustrous
- Used for fashion, furnishings, bedding and upholstery
Characterised by the specific satin weave – 4 or more fill or weft yearns, floating over a warp yarn or vice versa, 4 warp yarns floating over a single weft yarn – satin is instantly recognisable thanks to its glossy face and matt back. The light reflects, due to the floating yarns, and this lustrous appearance makes it ideal for red carpet worthy gowns. The light will bounce off of the fabric, creating an eye-catching look.
Our choice – Duchess Satin
With the classic shiny face, our beautiful Duchess Satin is our favourite satin for making a red carpet dress. The face is smooth and lustrous, composed of a tightly woven weave, which is attributed to satin. Duchess is soft and smooth, and will slip over your body in subtle, undulating waves.
This fine fabric is crisp and lightweight, and ideal for adding that ethereal quality to evening gowns. Made from highly twisted yarns in a loose, plain weave, organza can be made from silk or synthetic fabrics. We love its delicate and dreamy appearance, as well as these other notable organza characteristics:
- Crisp and dry handle
- A wiry feel
- Stiff and transparent
- Thin and lightweight
- A fine texture
- A slight sheen
This distinct fabric can give your dress a real princess quality. It can be layered to create a waterfall of cascading organza, which subtly catches the light and holds its shape well. Organza can be used in all types of dresses, for most silhouettes. It is versatile and mixes well with other fabrics, to create a unique final piece. This romantic fabric can be made to look traditional or contemporary and it remains one of the best fabrics for evening gowns.
Our choice – 100% Silk Organza
This 100% natural silk organza is a dream of a fabric. It is ultra light, weighing just 24gsm, so it floats delicately like a feather. The construction of this organza is almost mesh-like and it is so sheer, that prints will show through on both sides. With its traditional crisp handle, you will hardly feel like you are wearing anything with this stunning natural organza fabric.
7. For something a little different – Neoprene
You might be a little thrown here. Neoprene? As an evening gown fabric? It is completely against tradition of the usual suspects, when it comes to formal evening wear, but that is why we love it so much! Neoprene has been becoming increasingly popular in the fashion world, breaking conventions and creating new and exciting apparel. Some of our favourite neoprene properties include:
- Soft and flexible
- Durable, and wrinkle resistant
- UV resistant
- Smooth and sculptural
- Adds shape and moves with the body
Fashion designers are always on the look out for innovative fabrics to work with, and neoprene, also known as scuba fabric, has been growing ever more popular over the last 2 decades. The challenge is to make it look as elegant as traditional fabrics, while championing its contemporary characteristics. From Marc Jacobs to Louis Vuitton, Yamamoto to Miu Miu, and Alexander McQueen to Fendi, designers are accepting this challenge and walking away with stunning results.
Our choice – Neoprene or Scuba
Our Neoprene is solid, flexible and easy to work with. It is relatively thick; 2mm after printing, and is completely black out. The highly spongy nature is easy to manipulate into bold, structural shapes. For something a little thinner, Scuba is a great choice. This is a heavy weight, weft knitted fabric, made with spun yarns. It has a built in 4-way stretch and is thick and spongy, with a soft and flowing feel. The drape hangs well and it retains its original shape, even after being manipulated. Both of these fabrics would make a powerful statement when it comes to making an evening dress, but one, which will definitely turn heads.
List of Online Dress Stores
1. The Red Dress Boutique
The Red Dress Boutique has its headquarters in Athens, Georgia, and offers a wide variety of trendy and affordable dresses. Their website separates their dress category into every type of dress that you could think of, from that little black number to work dresses. If you need help trying to figure out what you are looking for, or with just style tips in general, check out The Red Dress Boutique’s blog which is full of such advice.
Maurices‘ dress shop is a great place to start when you are looking for a dress that runs along a more casual, but still very trendy, style. This chain has more than 900 locations across the United States (and even a few in Canada) and it has always been a business that keeps up with what is trending in terms of fashion. Plus, they offer their styles in sizes that range from 1 to 24 allowing women of all size and shape to shop and enjoy their selection.
3. Saved by the Dress
Saved by the Dress started out as an online fashion boutique that claims to offer its customers three important values: fashion, affordability, and fast shipping. Ever since the company launched from Miami Beach in 2013, it has rocketed onto the online shopping scene and continues to provide excellent quality merchandise. Since Saved by the Dress is also exclusively an online store, you can expect speedy and efficient customer service on their online platforms as it is their sole focus.
4. Charlotte Russe
Charlotte Russe is one of those fashion businesses with a name that spans the decades. The company began in 1975 and continues to soldier on. This means that not only are you receiving quality dresses and service, but you can rest assured that the company knows how to keep up with modern fashion and style. Plus, with the new addition of Peek Kids to their fashion collection, you can easily find the perfect dress for your daughter (or niece, or whoever you might need one for) while looking for your own outfit.
Lulus is a bit more on the pricier side of dress shopping, but not without reason. The store offers a number of high-quality fashion pieces with an emphasis on the strength on finishing of each dress to ensure that your purchase will last for years to come.
Lulus’ site separates dress types into the different categories you might expect (such as a wedding, casual, business, and so on). However, they also offer the option of shopping by color or trend which can be exceptionally helpful when you are searching for a more unique fashion item.
6. Fashion Nova
While Fashion Nova is a more wide-ranged clothing and accessory online shop (providing styles for both men and women), their dress shop is full of interesting and high quality finds. Fashion Nova’s mission statement is centered on the customer experience and ensuring that each individual who purchases one of their fashion items is not only satisfied but (as they put it) “the best-dressed girl in the room.” This kind of confidence is key when it comes to searching for your next perfect dress, be it for work or an evening out.
ModCloth is unique in that it primarily specializes in vintage styles that hold a flavor of modern fashion. So while this is not your typical dress shop, the chances of finding something truly unique are much higher than with other online or retail stores.
ModCloth is exclusively a women’s fashion store which means that you are working with a team focused entirely on creating the next biggest and best women’s fashion items. The shop was started in 2002 and has since boomed into a thriving business serving the nation’s women.
8. Misguided US
Misguided is a global fashion brand with the overarching goal of empowering women everywhere through their unique styles. Misguided fashion is bold and unapologetic; it is focused on every day and how each and every woman can tackle the ordinary in less than ordinary ways via their style.
This particular online shop is more geared toward the “Millenial” crowd and may not suit everyone’s tastes, but it is still a shop worth checking out if you are in the market for something more unique. Misguided was started in 1009 by Nitin Passi who started with next to nothing in New York and has since become a global superstar.
9. Lane Bryant
Lane Bryant is another one of those names that have been in the dress and overall fashion industry for a number of years. This is exclusively a plus size online (and retail) shop that caters to the curvier women of the world and provides them with styles that are both flattering and affordable. In other words, Lane Bryant is a leader in plus size fashion because they focus on creating trendy styles for larger women, thus equalizing the playing field of fashion.
Zulily is a unique shopping experience in that the online store offers daily sales on items across the retail board, including dresses. This includes a number of big name brands often at prices that seem too good to be true.
Zulily is a great place to find that unique (and extremely affordable) number you want, but it is not the best place to go if you need your dress sooner rather than later as their shipping times are longer on average than other online stores. However, if you have the time and want to save some money, definitely check out their shop which is also available as an app on your smartphone.
There is little doubt that Amazon is the leader in online shopping and dress shopping is no exception. Amazon offers a number of different dress brands and styles all in one place. You can refine your search for a specific type of dress (such as formal or cocktail) or you can search exclusively by brand depending on what you are looking for.
The company is one of those powerhouse retailers that employs more than 200,000 people and has been in operation since 1994. With free returns on most items and the new Amazon Wardrobe, shopping here has few risks and many possible rewards.
12. Simply Dresses
True to its name, Simply Dresses is an online fashion boutique that offers a variety of dress styles and options to fit nearly any occasion. The company has been in operation since 1998 and is a part of the larger Occasion Brands, LLC.
Simply Dresses is also so sure of its low prices for high-quality dresses that it offers to beat any other online retailer’s price by 2%. Therefore, if you were to find a dress on their site that you love but it is cheaper elsewhere, simply call into their customer service and save even more money on your purchase.
13. Pretty Little Thing US
Pretty Little Thing offers a number of different styles of clothing and accessories and their dress shop is no exception. The site offers more than twenty different categories of dress to help you narrow down your search with plenty of competitive pricing and sale deals to help you find what you need.
Pretty Little Thing also offers a specialized blog with plenty of fashion advice and news from around the world to keep you up to date on recent trends.
If you are more into designer name styles, then Revolve is the online shop for you. The store was started in 2003 by two like-minded friends who wanted a way to narrow down shopping for high quality, designer fashion. Revolve carries only the highest in name and quality with more than 700 brands under their online umbrella.
While Revolve covers both men and women’s designer clothing, their dress shop is definitely one to check out. Designer names for women’s fashion include Alexis, For Love & Lemons, Free People, FRLFRND, L’Acadamie, LEVI’S, Mara Hoffman, Nike, Rag & Bone, Tularosa, and Zimmermann, among many others.
This international online women’s fashion shop is stocked full of dress options to fit nearly any occasion. And with free shipping on orders more than $50 as well as free returns within 10 days of receiving your items, you can feel free to shop without worry. Tobi is based out of Los Angeles, California, and prides itself on providing some of the best styles and prices from the United States West Coast.
ASOS is an online shop that provides its customers with a broad selection of fashion pieces and accessories in more than 30 sizes, which of course includes their dress selection. This store is geared more toward the younger generational crowd, but there is a little something for everyone hidden inside.