A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked me to go to the races with her. Determined to find the perfect dress, I spent every spare moment I had trawling through pages of “occasionwear”. And, finally, there it was. A pastel pink, floral number with thin spaghetti straps. I took a screenshot of it and sent it to my friend for a second opinion.

Her response was this: ‘You cannot wear that. We’re sitting in the Queen Anne Enclosure, which means no sheer or strapless tops, no bardot or asymmetric dresses. Trousers and jumpsuits must be full length, midriffs have to be covered, dresses should be below the knee, and NO fancy dress, just in case you were thinking about it (crying face emoji).’

Oh, okay. I have to wear a dress that DOESN’T EXIST, then! That’s certainly how it felt. Every dress I found would fail one of the many pedantic rules. I even recall browsing bridesmaid dresses – I told you I was desperate.

Weeks later, I finally found a hidden gem in the Jigsaw sample sale. A lace dress in a pastel blue. Below the knee with elbow length sleeves. Absolutely beautiful.

You may not have as many problems when it comes to finding special occasion dresses, but here’s some inspiration to get the ball rolling, just in case you do. I can’t guarantee they will ace the test, but you’re not having my dress.

The Tailored Dress

A polished piece, this is simplicity at its finest. Fitted, tailored and something you can wear time and time again. Work or play.

The Printed Dress

An alternative to the dress is the jumpsuit. Covered in not-so-pretty florals, this piece oozes easy style without the fuss.

The Feminine Dress

Strictly feminine. It doesn’t get prettier than this lace dress. It does wonders for the body, nipping in all the right places.

The Monochrome Dress

Nothing says monochrome like this dress. Contemporary and slightly floaty, what’s not to love?

The Statement Dress

If you want to stand out, this is the piece for you. The construction (check out the tail) and colour combined will have everyone turning heads.

Shop more occasionwear and discover the shoes to match.

By Nakhalar Sterling

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