How do you feel when you get invited to a dressy event? If you’re like me, you get a surge of panic, sprint to your closet and frantically rummage through your dresses to see if you have anything remotely suitable and long enough.
Why the surge of panic? Well, formal dresses for tall women seem to be a bit hard to come by. If I’m going to wear a long gown, of course I want it to sweep the floor (or at least get reasonably close to the floor). I definitely DON’T want to look like I’m ready to go wading in a stream with a long dress that hits above my ankles.
Shopping Strategy for an Extra-Long Formal Dress
Out of my two long gowns, one is a tall size and one is a regular size. The tall size one does indeed sweep the floor…even with three inch heels on. Huzzah! The non-tall one is just barely long enough and looks better with a kitten-heel. The difference in length between the tall size and non-tall size highlights the importance of snatching up a formal dress from a tall retailer if you can ever get your hot little hands on one!
If you can’t visit a tall store, I think your best bets are to:
1) try on dresses in a non-tall store to see if you can make one of them work
2) order a dress online from tall lines like MARGE Clothing, Model Atelier, Long Tall Sally or ASOS
3) order a custom made-to-measure dress online from retailers like JJ’s House or MJVO Couture
4) make friends with a seamstress and bribe her with lots of chocolate so she will make you a dress
5) consider pairing a dressy maxi skirt (like this one from Model Atelier or this one as modeled by Tall Wife) with a fancy top
The scenario described at the beginning of this post happened to me the other day when we received an invite to a formal event taking place in a couple of months. I’m happy to say that my frenzied closet rummaging revealed that my two very elderly long gowns still fit! In case I can’t find a new dress, at least I have these to fall back on.
BCBG Long Formal Dress (Non-Tall)
I’ve worn this dress 3 or 4 times over the years which is pretty good wear for a formal dress. If you look closely, you can see my 3″ inch heels peeking out so I’ll need to look for a 1″-2″ inch kitten heels if I plan to wear this to the event. Any excuse for shoe shopping is always music to my ears!
I love the movement of the tulle skirt…
I also adore the lace detailing and the red waistband!
Red Tall Formal Gown from a Tall Store in Pasadena, CA
When I was 17 or 18, my mom and I visited a tall store in Pasadena, CA and this long red dress caught my eye. I tried it on and looked down in disbelief and wonderment as the fabric pooled on the floor. Wearing heels with this dress is a MUST and not just any heels but REALLY HIGH HEELS. How often can you say that about a formal dress? Woohoo!
Even though the dress was a bit too big on me, I still bought it as one of those “I might need this someday so I better be prepared” purchases. Plus, I was just too enamored with the length to leave the dress behind. It has sat in my closet ever since! I wasn’t sure if it would still fit me, but it actually looks better on me now than when I bought it because my 30-something body fills it out better than my boyish teenage figure did.
|I’m wearing 3 inch heels and it still touches the ground!|
Slits on both sides of the dress gives it nice movement when I twirl!
Update! I finally wore this dress in May 2016 to a gala dinner for the European tall people’s meeting in Nuremberg Germany. I actually had to have the dress shortened a bit (believe it or not) otherwise I would’ve been tripping on it all night. My Dutch friend Karen from the website Tall Wife met me in Nuremberg and we had a grand time together. For even more tall formalwear inspiration, check out Karen’s write-up on the event itself and her amazing gala skirt from MARGE Clothing here, and check out the pics below to see our gala looks.
Cocktail/Party Frock – French Connection “Moire Meadow”
Sometimes, a cocktail dress will work for a dressy event and these are WAY simpler to find than long dresses. When I saw this ladylike French Connection dress on the Sequins and Stripes blog last fall, I fell in love and immediately bought it (on sale). It’s still on sale at Bloomingdales but sizes seem to be going fast.
I’m trying to remember the last time an article of clothing made me feel dainty. At 6’2, that feeling just doesn’t come around very often. This dress sure as heck makes me feel that way with the sweetheart neckline (which is perfect with my pearls), pleated and poofy skirt and brocade floral fabric.
Pretty pleated poofy skirt
Which long dress do you think I should wear to the event? Where have you found extra-long formal gowns?
Online Shopping and Wedding (Guest) Dress Woes, Tall Fashion Adventures
Extra Long Prom and Special Occasion Dresses, Tallook
An Unexpected Gown for a Taller Than Your Average Girl, The Height of Style