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Even if you haven’t got an invite to the Oscars, your wardrobe could always do with a beautiful red carpet worthy dress…you know…for those extra special occasions.
Awards season is in full swing, and those stunning evening gowns are adorning the red carpet.
If you love sewing, and creating your own clothes, then why not make your own evening dress? Forget spending a fortune on dresses inspired by what celebrities wear, with a little bit of know-how and with the right pattern, you can make your own evening gown yourself.
Why make your own dress?
Sometimes, we can find our dream dress, but there is something missing. Maybe the price point is too high, maybe the fit isn’t just right, maybe the print isn’t in the most flattering colours for your skin tone, or maybe the fabric doesn’t float your boat. The perfect dress starts with the perfect fabric, and when you make your own dress, you can choose exactly what fabric is best for you.
When it comes to evening gowns, think dreamy, elegant, ethereal, almost goddess like fabrics. Silk, satin, lace, organza, chiffon, these fabrics have been used to make show-stopping evening dresses for years, and with their natural beauty, elegant drapes, and exquisite femininity, it’s no wonder why.
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.
- Gown according to the occasion
- Evening gowns
- Morning Gowns
- Gowns according to the silhouette
- Ball Gown
- Mermaid gown
- A-Line Gown
- Sheath gown
- Gowns according to the skirt style
- Bouffant skirt gown
- Circular skirt gown
- Full Skirt Gown
- Bustle gown
- Bias cut gown
- Asymmetrical Gown
- Tiered gown
- Panel gown
- Gowns according to the bodices
- Strapless gown
- Backless gown
- Cami gown
- Empire waist gown
- Maxi Gown
- Gown differing in the neckline shape.
- Halter neck gown
A short history of Gowns
Gowns have been in the thick of women’s fashion from time immemorial. In the past, gowns were the prerogative of the nobility and they proclaimed the wealth, family status and social standing of the wearer. It became aspirational for women to wear the best of gowns ; each strove to dress herself better than the others in the courts of the kings across the world. Elaborately decorated gowns made of the most costly fabric with beautiful embroidery, embellishments and trimmings became the norm for everyday, not just special occasions.
For a long time, the gowns seen in European courts featured voluminous skirts with many layers of petticoats and hoops inside to keep the shape intact, long trains, tight bodices with tightly laced corsets, draped outer layers, high and low necklines and elaborate sleeves. Expensive fabrics like silk brocade and taffeta were used to make the gowns.
During the 18th century a high waisted style called Empire line with gathered skirts was popular with very low necklines and short sleeves in thin flowy fabrics. After the French revolution in 1780 a fashion for naturalism lead to gowns being made in simpler silhouettes, more attuned to the natural shape of the female figure.
During the 19th century the old favorites with full skirts came back. In the 1870s Bustle was very popular, attached to the back of the gowns. During 1890s gowns with very long trains, elaborate trimmings and puffy sleeves (leg of mutton sleeves) were popular. In the 1900s the full skirts and tight bodice came back in fashion. Then gradually the corseted shape changed to a loose flapper style. During the 1930s fitting bias cut gowns gained traction. By 1940s the classic voluminous skirts and tight waist came back in gowns and this continued for some time. 1980s was an age of exaggeration and hence the gowns showed lots of ruffles, pleats and puffed sleeves.
Today as I see it, anything goes as a gown, so long as it enhances the beauty of the wearer.
Types of gowns
Gown according to the occasion
Formal evening gowns are long dresses suitable for wearing on formal/special occasions and are usually made of expensive fabrics, with beautiful embellishments and meant to make the wearer stand out among the crowd.
Morning gowns are casual long dresses worn during the day.
Gowns according to the silhouette
Ball Gown is the most common silhouette in gowns – with a fitted bodice, tight waist and a very full, floor length skirt, with or without a train.
In this type of gown the skirt is tight fitted at the hips and thighs but flares out from the knees.This is achieved by cutting panels which flares or by attaching a different fabric from the knees. The gown is also known as a trumpet gown.
In this style the gown has a fitted bodice and the skirt flares gently from the waist to the skirt hem, creating the shape of a capital letter A. This is usually achieved with princess line panels so it is also called princess line gown
This has a body hugging fit all throughout.
Related post : 12 different dress silhouettes.
Gowns according to the skirt style
Bouffant skirt gown
This is a gown with a very full skirt . This gown usually has a gathered skirt with a very puffy look – because of this the waist can look very small. The bouffant look can achieved by making the skirt in many layers of tulle fabric or by using hoops or petticoats inside and/or using lot and lots of gathered fabric.
Circular skirt gown
This gown is fitted at the waist but the skirt is very flared. The skirt of this gown is cut as a circle skirt to achieve this.
Full Skirt Gown
A full skirt is gathered at the waist but is not as full/puffy as the bouffant skirt gown.
This is a vintage style gown with an extra attachment added to the back of the gown (where the bodice meets the skirt)- usually this is a train or a gathered fabric giving the appearance of fullness at the back. It is usually attached with a bow on top.
Bias cut gown
This is a gown cut with the true cross grain/bias of fabric so that it fits the body perfectly and has a good drape, without adding volume at the waist or hips and being tight fitting at the hem. There is a fluidity and body hugging fit to the fabric of skirt that makes this gown very attractive on most body shapes
This gown has an asymmetrical hemline.
A gown with many layers of skirts.
The gown is made by joining panels of fabrics.
Gowns according to the bodices
This is a gown with a bustier/corset bodice without straps or sleeves. Also known as a corset style.
The type of gown with a backless bodice.
This is a camisole style long dress, with thin spaghetti straps and a plunging v neckline
Empire waist gown
In this gown the fitted bodice ends just under the bust and the gathered waist starts from there, giving the look of a high waist
This is a casual gown in a flowy fabric, with fitted bodice and loose skirt.
Gown differing in the neckline shape.
Halter neck gown
A halter neck gown will have a band encircling the neckline connecting to the sleeveless bodice leaving the shoulders and part of the back bare.
Gown Trivia : The ball gown used in the Disney Movie Cinderella has more than a dozen fine layers of fabric, more than 10,000 Swarovski crystals and it took some 18 tailors more than 500 hours to complete it to it’s mind blowingly beautiful appearance – no CGI at work – just simple hard work and the creative genius of a designer, Sandy Powell. But that is not the most amazingly expensive gown you will ever see. There are gowns in existence which will cost way more than an average man’s lifetime earnings.
There is so much variety in evening dresses, that it can make shopping for the perfect one totally confusing. However, when you find the right dress, you will feel like a diva in it. Not only will it be comfortable, it will also bring out your best features and make you happy to show it off.
So, how do you set about looking for one, and identify if it is the right choice for you?
Here are ten valuable tips from Best for Bride, to help you find the right formal gown for your next big social event.
1.Assess your body shape first
This is the primary factor in finding a gown that will look great on you. For best results, you should always choose an evening gown that enhances your best features, while hiding or camouflaging the less desirable aspects of your body frame. To find the right silhouette for your body shape, you should first determine your body shape. Our previous article here will guide you towards finding out what category you fall into. In brief, we can say that most women fall into one of the following categories:
- Apple-shaped: where the shoulders and upper torso is wider than the hips and legs.
- Pear shaped: Where the lower half of the body, from the waist and hips is more pronounced than the bust
- Hourglass: Where the bust and hips are similar in proportion, and separated by a distinctly slender waistline
- Rectangular: Where there are few to no noticeable curves and the frame is slender overall
- Petite: where the overall height is less than 5’4” with a well defined bust and hip region
Depending on which category you fall into, you can find suitable recommendations in dresses in this previous article of ours. By choosing a dress style that flatters your body shape, you will look and feel confident and attractive. Certain styles, like dresses with A-line skirts and V-necklines are universally flattering, and are suitable for most body types. If you are unsure of your body shape, these may be the options to consider.
This A-line, beige evening dress from the Dessy Evening dress collection is a safe bet in terms of fit, color and style.
2.Stick to a budget
Before you go shopping, it is essential that you first calculate the maximum amount you can afford to spend on your evening gown. This will help you narrow down your choices and find a dress that is good, within your specified range. The price is often determined by the amount of details in the gown, the fabric, embellishments and designer collection to which it belongs. Evening gowns can be expensive. However, you should balance out the price with the use you intend to get out of it. If it is in a neutral color and timeless design, so you can get several uses out of, it is worth spending more for the good quality. Plus, this will help you make sure that it will last longer and look fresh. If you want to find a good deal for the money you spend, it is a good idea to look in the sale section. If you have an eye for detail and know it when you see a gown that is just right, you may find the right pick for a fraction of the original price, in the discounts department. Also be prepared to shop in the off-season (typically summer and winter), when prices will be at their lowest. This way, you can find a gown for the next holiday season, without paying a fortune on it.
Check out this sale and clearance section on Best for Bride for the latest attractive offers in wedding dresses and evening gowns.
3.Give priority to dresses from good designer collections
Although you can find formal dresses that are really cheap, you will be trading off design quality for savings, when you choose them. Evening gowns designed by experienced professionals are usually superior in terms of look and quality. They will feature flattering fits, neat seams and beautiful necklines. These dresses are created to showcase the best of the fabric and enhance the natural features of the wearer, through appropriate placement of embellishments. So, the extra price associated with a designer gown is usually worth it. If the price tag is a major source of concern, you can choose from discount and sale sections or be on the lookout for shops that offer sales on the designer collection.
Featured here is the J6070 evening dress from the Jadore Collection. This collection features exquisite designer gowns showcasing the latest trends from the top fashion catwalks.
4.Choose a gown closest to your actual size
There is no such thing as a standard size for women, and so it is highly unlikely that you will find a gown off the rack that fits you perfectly. For the best fit, we always recommend that you have your chosen dress altered to your actual measurements. This is quite easy to do, and so you incur least expenses on alterations, you should choose a gown that is closest in size to your actual measurements. This simply means that you shouldn’t choose gowns that are too big or too small in size. Don’t ever make the mistake of choosing a gown that is smaller than your actual size, expecting that you will shed several pounds closer to the time you have to wear it. Just in case you don’t, you will simply lose the chance to wear the dress you carefully chose for the occasion. Buy your actual size at the time you go shopping, and you can always have the extra fabric taken in, when you lose the extra weight. When wearing close-fitting gowns, we also recommend that you invest in some good quality shape wear to hide any unsightly bumps and sport a fantastic, trim figure instead.
This gorgeous Mori Lee 726 evening gown in lace, for example, features a slimming fit and flare silhouette. To bring out the actual beauty of the dress, you should either have a perfect hourglass figure, or wear shapewear underneath to tuck in any flab you may have around your waist or hips.
5.Choose colors wisely
As beautiful as a dress may be in a picture or when on display, it isn’t necessary that it will be the best choice in color for you. When choosing formal evening gowns, it is always a good idea to only look at colors that match your complexion. Colors play a significant role in enhancing your overall look. They also have the power to do the opposite. Why should you want to wear a dress that makes you look pale or sick, when you could be wearing one that makes your eyes pop and your skin glow? Remember this when you go shopping, so you can stay focused even though you may be attracted to a dress in a beautiful color that may not work for you. Many dresses are available in more than one color. So you may like to look at the other color options if you absolutely love a particular design but the color doesn’t look great on you. Also, always try on the different dress options you have shortlisted. This will clearly reveal which one is best on you, rather than go by instinct.
This stunning red beauty, the J6074 from the Jadore collection is also available in pale yellow and black. So, you can satisfy yourself with the same design in an alternate color, if this dress doesn’t look as beautiful on you, as you would want it to.
6.Don’t always go for the trendiest
Trends come and go with startling speed. Unless you don’t mind your gown looking outdated in few months, it is best to buy dresses that aren’t too trendy. Choosing dresses with features that are always in style, will allow you to use it for much longer. Specific prints, styles and embellishments can quickly lose their charm, and you may not find it appropriate to wear this dress in a year’s time. Some of the safe choices that are bound to always be fashionable include the following.
- Sweetheart necklines where the neckline gently follows the natural curves of the bust.
- V-necklines have and will always be popular because of their universally flattering style
- Cap sleeves are romantic, whimsical and a versatile choice for many types of figures
- A-line dresses appeal to all women as they are a safe option that looks good on all body frames
- Colors like black, white, navy and gold are always trendy
Here is a gown that will always be a favorite for several reasons. This Mori Lee 112 evening gown is a classic beauty, with a sweetheart neckline and an A-line silhouette. The criss-cross ruched bodice and gently shirred skirt, as well as the stunning navy color will always be festive and suitable for most formal occasions.
7.Choose the right fabric
The way a fabric drapes around your body and the natural flow it has, will impact the overall effect of the dress. While some fabrics like tulle are crisp and rigid, others like chiffon are soft and flow gently. The fabric you choose for your dress should be one that is suitable for your structure and height. If you are naturally very slim, a fabric that clings to you may make you look even more thin. If you are bulky, a crisp fabric structured to give more bulk to a dress may add extra pounds to your look. So, make a wise choice where the fabric is concerned. How the fabric is layered, and whether it features ruffles or similar dramatic elements, can also alter the overall look of the dress. Another factor to consider is the suitability of the fabric for the weather at the time you will be wearing the dress. Since you will most likely be using this dress more than once, also find out how it has to be cared for and cleaned. Certain materials like silk will require a great deal of care and you may have to dryclean it to keep it looking fresh.
This Mori Lee 106 chiffon dress with embroidery is suitable for functions in summer and spring, as the fabric is soft, lightweight and breathable. It is also low maintenance, making it an ideal choice for women who don’t want to spend too much time or money on cleaning it.
8.Choose to dress it up or down with accessories
While a great dress will do wonders in transforming you into a striking beauty, it is also necessary to choose the right accessories to complete your look. You can always dress your overall look up or down, based on the accessories you wear with it. As a general rule, if your evening dress has elaborate details, stick to minimum accessories to avoid a cluttered look. On the other hand, if your dress is relatively simple, you can dress it up with bold accessories that add the desired touch of drama. Apart from shoes, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, also consider clutches, hair accessories, scarves and belts or sashes to create an entirely different look. Other factors to look at when choosing the right mix of accessories, include the neckline and sleeve, as well as other design elements of the chosen dress.
This J6003 from the Jadore collection is a dress that can be accessorized in many different ways to create the look you desire. It is a lovely dress that will work by itself, as well as look great with the righ choice of accessories.
Best for Bride has dresses for women of all ages and sizes. We bring you a stunning collection of evening dresses to choose from. Visit our evening dress collection today to find out what fabulous dresses are available today. Also, the clearance and sale section will allow you to choose from the most attractive deals available. Take a look today, and we are sure you will find more than just one that you will love.