Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A formal frock for £25?

When I heard a couple of months back that I'd have to wear a formal dress at the choir's summer concert, I knew I wanted a different dress to the one I wore at Christmas. I adore the one I wore then but it seemed more appropriate to that time of year with all-over sequins (see it on this link).

But let's face it, a formal dress is not a good use of clothes-buying funds. You only wear it a handful of times (if even) and in the case of choir events, I only get to wear it for one half of a concert. So I was keen not to spend too much on whatever I bought.

So when I spotted this dress on ASOS, I thought I'd give it a go - reduced from £75 to £25, I knew the quality would probably be ok and it looked like it hung nicely on the model in the video (big shout out to ASOS for videos of each item...such a help when buying online).

I should say here that if you need a formal dress and don't have much money to spend...and have the ASOS fear (SO much choice!), simply go into the clearance section, select dresses (all), select Occasion Dresses and then filter by price. You can also filter further by selected Mini/Maxi/Midi. It's an easy way to see what dresses are there at an affordable price and it saves you trawling through hundreds of pages of frocks.

Also, ASOS returns service is amazing so don't be afraid to order plenty of dresses to try on. They do free delivery and returns and will refund you promptly. I ordered 6 in total and sent back 4 - I've one held for a wedding in July...watch this space!

Back to the one I bought...here is the image from the website:
When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. It's double layered jersey that hangs beautifully, it was the perfect length and with enough coverage at the bust to allow me to wear a proper bra (with the strap tucked in on one side). My only concern was the depth of the splits up each side  - it did go right up to above mid-thigh but that is less of an issue in choir as I was standing the whole time and the splits weren't really visible. It would be more obvious if you were sitting.

I bought both this colour and black as I wasn't sure if the blue would be a good shade for me but when I tried both on, the verdict in the house (son and husband) was unanimous - blue all the way. The black was posted back and I was good to go. 
And here are a couple of quick photos taken as we raced down to the stage. 
Just on the shoes, I tried nude, black and metallic with it but they didn't feel right...not sure why. I wasn't planning on buying blue ones until these strappy ones appeared on the Avenue 57 pre-loved page in my size....meant to be. They're from Zara - past season.
In terms of underwear, I wore a high waisted spanx under it and there was no vpl. It's not terribly forgiving otherwise...jersey never is! But overall, I was delighted with it...it kept me cool on stage thanks to the splits and because it was such a bargain, I am happy to keep it for a possible second wear but equally, I won't cry over it if I don't get to wear it again.
Oh and I must give a shout out to Rebecca Bryson MUA who did my make-up. It was great to find someone who works on a Sunday as I was struggling for a while. I had my hair done in Lounge Finaghy, also open on a Sunday from 1pm-6pm (paid for both btw - not sponsored!)
Finishing with a few photos to remember BCGC does Sunday night at the Grand Opera House - we had an amazing concert as always but I think this one was special because of the venue. 
For anyone local who's never seen us before, we have a concert coming up in Clonard Monastery on the 3rd June and also in Banbridge on the 18th June. Full details on this link.
(Photo credit to Lisa Stephens)



  1. Avril you look amazing! That dress looks so expensive on, what a find. I always find Asos just a little too much in terms of choice but I really should give it a go more often x

    1. You need to use the filters when you're searching on ASOS - it's overwhelming otherwise but definitely don't write it off because it's got SO much on there...and free delivery too! Thanks for your lovely comment Natalie - you're too kind! xx

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Claire - that's so lovely of you to say x

  3. Avril you look stunning in that dress, the colour is gorgeous. I went to a formal wedding last year and had to wear a long dress, I managed to get a lovely red number for £30 from TK Maxx, which I will probably never wear again, so I splurged on a lovely jacket to go with it that I wear loads. Love your blog and I wish I had all your energy.

    1. What a lovely comment - thank you so much Georgina. I had looked in TK Maxx too - they are my first port of call when I need formal stuff but I didn't have any luck. They were more expensive too so you definitely did well for £30! Best idea paying out for a jacket you'll wear again - wise shopping there. Thanks again Georgina, Avril x PS I'm knackered all the time lol

  4. What a bargain dress! And beautiful on. Interested to hear about your bra strategy, do you think this would work for a longer period of time? I've a similar bridesmaid's dress to wear in a few weeks and am trying to work round the inevitable rubbish but still expensive strapless bra purchase!

    1. Hi Anna - I'm SO sorry it's taken me a while to reply here....the past week was all over the place. So I did the one sided bra all day (to prevent tan marks) and then all through the concert...and after as I went out in an off-the-shoulder top! It worked great but you need to have a bra that can stand up for itself. I wear the Boux Avenue 2 sizes bigger ones and they're a feat of engineering in that they are so structured. It means that (combined with my lack of bust) they stay put really well. I had to adjust a couple of times but honestly, it all felt very secure. I am with you on the strapless bra situation - yet to find one that is worth the money...they are such a faff. Try a few bras you already have and see how you get on perhaps? Good luck! Hope this weather keeps up for the wedding x

  5. Gorgeous dress on you! The last dress I bought from ASOS was ages ago, and I wasn't really that impressed with the quality, so I may have to give them another go based on this. Looks like a wonderful concert. Jane X


    1. Thanks Jane - I do think ASOS is hit and miss...about half what I buy goes back to them for that reason but I must have been due a good one with this dress! Thanks for your lovely comment my love, Ax


I love reading your comments and will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question. If for any reason, you are unable to leave a comment, just drop me an email at avril@alifetostyle.com or leave a comment on the A Life to Style Facebook Page! Thank you xx

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