Here we are, half way through the year already! You managed to survive the cruel cold of winter, the sneeze-inducing pollen of spring, and all those weddings that weren’t yours in June (okay, maybe one of the weddings was yours, but certainly no more than that)! Now that July is here, we can all relax for a moment  and enjoy cut-off shorts and halter tops and not worry about unsightly tan lines for a few weeks, right?

You should know better than that! Have you seen the social calendar for the next two months? There are still plenty of formal events left for the season and if you already wore all your dresses to  June weddings and such, then you probably need to do some shopping because you and I both know that you absolutely cannot wear exactly the same thing in July that you did back in May. Yes, we will remember. You were stunning then. You need to up the ante now.

Of course, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this if I didn’t have a handful of suggestions for you. You don’t have to cut too deep into your summer budget to find some wonderful looks that will wow and impress your friends. We’ve assembled five lovely looks that are appropriate for  anything from remaining weddings to mid-summer balls.

Summer is the perfect time to go strapless


Our first look is a beautiful shimmering satin strapless dress from Forever 21,  with accessories from Grace Boutique.  You’ve been working really hard on that tan and this is your chance to show it off,  along with that swimsuit  body you’ve been flaunting. Heads will turn and faces will smile when you show up wearing this dress, or anything like it. The caveat here is that satin really prefers the indoors.  While this is perfect for a formal tea or even a fund raising mixer, it might get a little sweaty  at any event held  outdoors in high humidity. Again, being strapless eliminates those scary  underarm  perspiration stains, but  I would still recommend caution when one is out in really sticky weather.

Black is always cool

SummerFormal_002People who don’t know me all that well question why I wear black even in the summer. The fact is, even in summer, black can be incredibly cool both in terms of style and comfort. The big issue here is cut and fabric. A beautiful two-piece black ensemble, such as the one shown here from Forever 21 with accessories from Grace Boutique, fits the bill perfectly.  The top is styled with cutouts that are both sexy and ventilating, attractive and practical. The long part of the skirt  is sheer with built-in slip underneath that stops just above the knee. For those more formal after-5 events, this is the perfect selection, giving one both the formal look and summer comfort, even outdoors in heat and humidity. The full skirt is especially delightful when it catches a hint of a breeze. Wear this to your next summer event and they’ll still be talking in October about how wonderful you looked.

Nothing is more elegant than a touch of gold

SummerFormal_003Gold has been a dominant element in fashion the past two seasons, and if the pre-fall and resort collections are any indication, that trend is likely to continue right on into next year. One doesn’t have to go full-tilt with the gold as Dolce & Gabbana does with their fall collection, though. More simple touches often make a stronger statement, as with this dress from BCBG MaxAzria. Notice, please, that we’ve gone light with the accessories from Grace Boutique on this look. With the gold being so close to the face and neckline, one really doesn’t need anything else that might distract from your own natural beauty. Of course, blue is a summer staple and this lovely gown has one of the most modest slits in the skirt I’ve ever seen. While there’s plenty of ventilation and the fabric breaths wonderfully well, the look is also conservative enough for the events where overt sensuality might not be quite so appropriate. At the same time, though,  this is a classically feminine look that flatters the wearer no matter what the occasion. A touch of gold, a strong primary color, and classic styling make this a summer-time favorite.

Sequins never go out of style


Someone recently tried telling me that sequins weren’t “in” this season. I’m not sure where this poor lost soul was getting their fashion information, but anyone who says sequins have gone out of style is as full of hot air as a Texas barbecue on the fourth of July. In fact, not only are sequins “hot” for this summer, come fall there’s going to be absolutely no escaping them. Sequins are everywhere! One of the things I like about sequins in summer is their ability capture and reflect light. Indoors, such as shown here, the look has a classic elegance to it. Outdoors, the sequins reflect the changing sunlight, a look that is especially dramatic as the sun sets. This particular dress from Bebe has stylish cross-over straps in back and give the dress plenty of ventilation and, quite honestly, makes the wearer just as attractive when walking away as they were on approach. Without question, this dress is dramatic making it perfect for any summer event where one wants to make a splash without actually getting wet. Again, be careful to not over-accessorize. The sequins capture both light and motion so most anything else other than rings and earrings would be distracting. Don’t be afraid of the glitter and glam, though! Go bold!

Make something simple into something elegant

SummerFormal_005There are so many things to like about this last dress that I scarcely know where to begin. The basic off-the-shoulder design with reverse-angle hem is appropriate for just about any event, from weddings to teas to cotillions. What really sets it off, though, is the embellishment added on the left shoulder, with a matching bracelet on the right arm, both from Grace Boutique. Now, stop and think, how many dresses in your closet could you potentially give a similar treatment? My guess is that you have more than one. With treatment like this, perhaps we wouldn’t  notice if you were to re-wear something you wore back in May.  One doesn’t have to go overboard, or spend a small fortune, to make a rather simple  dress look quite glam. Of course, it goes without saying that starting with a high quality dress helps, but as budgets tighten toward the end of summer this may prove to be a very affordable option in getting one through those last few events.

Before I close, let me take a moment to thank the wonderful event staff at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for allowing us to use The Manor at the Museum.  Historically known as the Schnull-Rauch House, this lovely 1904 home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now a beautiful event facility capable of hosting a variety of events in a most elegant fashion. I can’t think of a more attractive place for summer events from dinner parties to full-scale balls. We greatly appreciate their friendly and accommodating efforts in helping us prepare this article.

We still have at least two full months of summer and plenty of formal occasions left before we start pulling out sweaters, cardigans and long sleeves. Enjoy the warm weather while it’s here and don’t miss an opportunity to be fabulous!


Model: Olivia (L Modelz)
Photography: charles i. letbetter
Makeup: Danelle French
 Hair: Joey Mishelow
Styling: Nativa (Allyson Brooks and Lila Sierra)




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