How to dress down a formal gown

San Francisco is not a very dressy place, especially compared to New York, where I lived for 13 years. True, I have the occasional wedding, holiday party, or charity event to dress up for, but most of my fancy dresses spend a lot of time just hanging in my closet. And that's a bummer. The good news is that with a little strategic styling, you can dress down a fancy dress for more casual, everyday occasions. Here's how I did it.

eShakti generously gifted me this dress in exchange for trying their FX custom option. If you've never shopped eShakti before (and I hadn't), they custom-tailor all of their pieces to your measurements and specifications at ridiculously reasonable prices; their FX program takes it a step further by allowing you to change the neckline, sleeve, and length of your item for an extra $9.95. The really fun part is playing around with this tool and watching as the dress transforms before your eyes. I kept the neckline on this dress as is—it has a snap for more modesty, but I found I actually liked it unsnapped for a lower cut (I'm wearing it both ways in these photos)—but lengthened the sleeves and shortened the overall length so I didn't have to wear it with my highest heels. The fancy-looking long, full skirt makes it easy to dress up, but the bodice is knit, so the dress is super comfortable and lends itself to dressing down (but more on that later). Bonus: it has pockets! I'm super happy with the way it turned out, and plan on wearing it for more than just dressy affairs. It has a kind of retro feel that thankfully works multiple ways.

To me, the easiest trick in the book for making an outfit more casual is to add a denim jacket. (I last did it with a jumpsuit.) As I've mentioned many times before, I love this Gap jacket because it hits at the most flattering point for me, just below my waist. The cut is casual but feminine—I recently tried an oversized denim jacket and just felt very sloppy in it. This one is just right.

If I were really dressing down this outfit, I would have gone with a crossbody bag, but I liked the contrast (yet unifying color scheme) of the leopard print against the graphic-print skirt. This bag was a really good find at Nordstrom and is sadly sold out, but I've linked a very similar (albeit more expensive) one below.

Another element that keeps this look on the casual side is my choice of shoes—in this case, a wedge espadrille sandal from one of my favorite brands, Vionic. They're dressed-down, but not too much; I feel like a sneaker would look really out of place with the dress, so these are a happy medium. Vionic shoes are always incredibly comfortable too, and these are no exception. I plan on taking them to Mexico City with me in a few weeks!

OUTFIT DETAILS: eShakti dress (c/o) | Gap denim jacket | BP clutch (similar here) | Vionic Ariel wedges (c/o)


Laura B said...

That dress is beautiful! eShakti always has fun items! I love how you dressed it down!

Nancy 's Fashion Style said...

It s a lovely dress and it has beautiful colors together! And perfectly styled, now you can wear it more often!

Jodie's Touch of Style said...

What a great way to get more use out of this wonderful dress, Cheryl!!

Missymayification said...

Such a gorgeous dress. Loving how airy and flowy it is. Thank you for the style tips.

mireille said...

That is a pretty dress: I like your two options for dressing it down.

Claire Justine said...

What a lovely dress Cheryl. Love long floaty dresses. Thanks for linking up to The Wednesday Blog Hop. Hope you can join me tomorrow :)

Ruth said...

Wow that dress is gorgeous girl! I love the jean jacket with it, definitely makes it appropriate to wear for dinner or a night out without being overly dressy! said...

That dress is gorgeous! I love the wrap style, and the print looks great with the clutch. Fabulous wedges...I'm a huge fan of Vionic shoes! Thanks for linking up!

Emma xxx

Mica said...

What a stunning dress! I love the denim jacket with it, great way to dress it down a little! :)

Hope your week is going well :)
Thank you so much for joining the #weekdayWearLinkUp :)

Away From Blue