Tall formal gowns

5 Tips for Tall Women on Finding Long Formal Dresses

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 AtelierLong 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!

Extra-long formal dress

I love the movement of the tulle skirt…

Extra-Long Formal Dress

I also adore the lace detailing and the red waistband!

BCBG Long Formal Gown

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.

Extra-Long Red Formal Dress
I’m wearing 3 inch heels and it still touches the ground!
Extra-Long Red Formal Gown

Slits on both sides of the dress gives it nice movement when I twirl!

Tall Satin Formal Gown
Tall Chiffon Formal Dress
Tall Formal Gown

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. 

Tips for tall women on finding formal gowns Tips for tall women on finding formal dresses

Formal dresses for tall women

Had so much fun at the gala with Karen from Tall Wife

Formalwear for tall women from Tall Wife

In love with this stunning MARGE Clothing skirt on Karen from Tall Wife

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.

Tall Dress French Connection
Sweetheart neckline and pearls for the win!
French Connection Fit and Flare Dress
Scoop back with exposed zipper
French Connection Tall Cocktail Dress

Pretty pleated poofy skirt

French Connection Floral Dress
Your turn…
Which long dress do you think I should wear to the event?  Where have you found extra-long formal gowns?
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24 Comments

  • Reply jheri March 31, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I use your technique #4. I made friends with a retired seamstress who also makes dresses. She's excellent and I bribe her at least once a month with a visit and chocolate:-)

  • Reply tallwife March 31, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Hi,

    Difficult question!!
    1. the black one makes your legs look endless because of the waistband, which is great
    2. you look great in the red one, the color looks great on you, and the length is amazing! Maybe a nice strappy high heeled sandal with it?
    3. Love the neckline of this dress!

    For me, the red one stands out! 🙂

    xx Karen

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures March 31, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks for weighing in Karen! I never thought about the high waistband making my legs look really long but I guess you're right. Yay! I agree that I definitely need a strappy high heeled sandal (and maybe a tan on my legs? haha) with the red one. I'm in love with that sweetheart neckline on the third one too and now want more dresses with a neckline like that!

  • Reply auntp April 1, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I never realized how good you look in red! That dress looks amazing on you, and I love the black one and red sash. Very flattering, and it looks like a fun dress to wear. All lovely looks:) I hope you get some chances soon to really dress up!

  • Reply Lydia April 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I love them all! Maybe you should wear the red one just cuz you never have before. You're so pretty! Love, Sis

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures April 1, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks sisterkins! 🙂 Yes. I probably should do an inaugural wearing of the red one…

  • Reply Alice Warren April 2, 2015 at 1:06 am

    My favorite is the first one on you – I just adore the lace and red. All 3 are great choices.

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures April 2, 2015 at 6:37 am

      Hi Alice! Thanks for stopping by and weighing in. Another vote for the BCBG dress. 🙂

  • Reply Patricia F. April 5, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Wow! Very difficult question:

    1. The black one is elegant, it has a lady-like look and a wonderful neckline
    2. The red looks incredible on you, it's more basic compared to the black one but you look awesome on it.
    3. I would wear the cocktail dress if you know that the environment will be "less formal" or not so elegant.

    In short, you look amazing with the red dress I would decide depending on the occassion and the environment but if you want to feel really pretty and femenine, I would pick the red one 🙂

    xx Paty
    antesAltaquesinsillla.blogspot.com

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures April 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks for your input Paty! I think the red dress might be the winner. I just realized that I have some strappy high heeled sandals that will go perfectly with the dress I don't know why I didn't wear them in the photos!

  • Reply Caryn October 16, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    These full length dresses are gorgeous on you! Thanks for the suggestions.

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures October 16, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks Caryn! I hope you find that perfect dress. I can’t wait to see it when you do find it.

  • Reply Hannah March 31, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Love your cocktail dress and the tips of course! I am a tall girl too and I got a lovely lace cocktail dress from Papilio (http://www.papilioboutique.com) for my friend’s wedding last summer. It was in turquoise color with lace and illusion neckline, a fabulous shopping experience because they have such a wide selection of dresses in different length and detailed designs. Check it out ladies!

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures April 2, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Hannah and thanks so much for the tip about Papilio! I will definitely check it out

  • Reply Alden June 28, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Also— thanks for the Berlin tips! I had a wonderful time!

    Alden

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures June 29, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Glad you liked the tips (both the dress tips and Berlin tips)! Happy to hear you had a wonderful time!

  • Reply pdx_leslie September 20, 2016 at 5:57 am

    New comer to the blog- love it! I’m 6’2″ also and never knew there are tall fashion bloggers. How cool!
    My tip is to add length with a waist band (seamstress required). I hate the recommendation to add length by “adding a ribbon at the hem, or something.” Nothing screams “this dress is too short!” like ribbon at the hem. For my wedding, I bought two of the same dress (a J.Crew silk dress found found at a deep discount) and used one for extra fabric in order to make replace the existing waistband with a wider band. Worked perfectly.

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures December 12, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Hi Leslie! Thanks for stopping by! I love your tips. Sounds like your creativity paid off for your wedding dress.

  • Reply Andrea February 11, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Bit late but the red dress (2) is so incredibly flattering on you and suits you to a t.
    In Melbourne, (Australia) I buy my staples from Vertically Blessed (Pia Wear). They are online as well as some retail outlets.
    Don’t forget sales outlet shoots too. My favourite cocktail outfit is a black jump suit with an uneven hem tulle overlay, Devine! I often hitch up the long side of the skirt and pin it when I want a day time/lunch outfit
    I’ve never heard of a tall people’s convention! Will have to do some googling for down under, lol
    Great post! Thanks

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures February 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Andrea! Thanks for stopping by and better late than never, right? 🙂 That’s great that you’ve found a tall shop in Australia to buy staples. The black jumpsuit sounds really unique and I bet it’s a showstopper. You should definitely search for tall people’s groups in Australia…maybe you’ll find something. 🙂 Also, have you ever read Alison’s Tall Mama blog? She’s one of my favorite tall bloggers and lives in Australia.

  • Reply Joanna May 13, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Can you tell us the name of the shop and cali and if they have an online ordering system? Thanks!

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures May 16, 2017 at 7:27 am

      Hi Joanna. Thanks for stopping by. The store in California was in Pasadena but it is now unfortunately out of business. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

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