Prêt-à-Party

Special occasion dresses with sleeves: a printed silk caftan is event ready with sparkly jewelry and strappy sandals. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

‘Tis almost the season…for weddings, cruises, graduations, and other special occasions that may call for dressing up a bit. I’m thinking of those events that are more formal than Smart Casual, but more relaxed than Black Tie. Once upon a time, there were strict sartorial codes based on the type of event, location, time of day, and even time of year, but fortunately we all have a lot more latitude now to express our individual style.

This post is sponsored by Halsbrook. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Special Occasion Dresses With Sleeves

I’ll admit, we don’t often have occasion to dress up beyond Smart Casual. But when we do, I’m always a bit flummoxed. So while creating these looks, I thought about my ideal Special Occasion dress. First, it would have to have sleeves. Second, I’d want an easy put-on-and-go style, nothing that requires shapewear or a special bra. And then I’d want to style it in a way that’s elegant but not fussy, easy to move around in. (There may be dancing, you never know… 💃 )

Above: Earrings | Bag | Bracelet | Dress | Sandals

The print on that silk caftan dress just knocked my socks off. I used accessories to pick up the colors in the dress.

More printed dresses: Saint James | Seventy | Megan Park

A navy wrap dress goes to the party with gold jewelry and strappy sandals. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Necklace | Bag | Bracelet | Dress | Sandals

For those who prefer a solid color dress, here’s one in navy that’s no shrinking violet 😉. With this look, I’ve let the dress be the focal point, and kept the accessories simple.

More navy dresses: Antonelli | Jude Connally | Sail To Sable

Do you have any special events coming up this season?

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for unefemme.net. See my complete disclosure policy here.

21 Comments

  1. Elizabeth M
    March 25, 2019 / 4:39 am

    These are beautiful clothes for a special occasion. I’m so glad you’re branching out to include options like these. I have an upcoming wedding so this is especially timely. Thanks!

  2. Stephanie J
    March 25, 2019 / 6:28 am

    That navy dress just took my breath away. Gives me a reason to stick to eating healthy and walking, so thank you Susan! You have such lovely taste. Both of these looks are gorgeous.

  3. Eileen
    March 25, 2019 / 6:41 am

    Thank you, this sight has truly nice sleeved dresses. I love the fit and flare cotton shirt styles. Thanks.

  4. Eva Cox
    March 25, 2019 / 7:10 am

    Oh those navy shoes!!!!

  5. Rondi
    March 25, 2019 / 7:32 am

    Such beautiful outfits! I am partial to the top dress. I love the colors and style. I am enjoying all the accessories also and am glad to see matching purses and shoes again. Definitely my comfort zone since that’s what I learned in my youth.

  6. March 25, 2019 / 8:35 am

    That navy dress is spectacular – can be worn so many ways. And that’s my favorite fabric. Plus, the 20% off…

  7. Deb
    March 25, 2019 / 10:22 am

    Thanks for the Halsbrook site. It’s new to me. Ordered a tunic from your link.

  8. March 25, 2019 / 2:26 pm

    I’m enjoying this, especially the very classy devil in a blue dress, but it is simply fantasy, as I can’t imagine any even where I’d be wearing such a garment. Even local film festivals I may have had a hand in behind the scenes are nothing like LA, Cannes or Berlin. People don’t dress like slobs, but they do dress in dark boho mode. They do dance, though.

  9. Kay
    March 25, 2019 / 3:06 pm

    This brings back my mother-of-the-bride days. Quelle horreur! The choices were “more matronly” and “less matronly.” I ended up both times going boho.

  10. Jeanne J
    March 25, 2019 / 5:00 pm

    I appreciate this topic, thanks! I often struggle with what to wear to weddings. I don’t go to them often enough to maintain a great wardrobe for such events, and dresses don’t “flatter” me anyway. For these reasons, I also enjoyed your wardrobe post from a wedding you attended (in the past year, I believe). That outfit was festive, attractive, and had plenty of interest, and it suited your own personal style.

  11. March 25, 2019 / 11:03 pm

    Love that navy dress. Ye, I’ve got lots of special occasions this Spring and Summer. Must check out all of your links. Thanks.

  12. Emily Twaddell
    March 31, 2019 / 4:33 pm

    Help! We are invited to a wedding in an English village in three weeks–I don’t know what to wear! I live in Boston, so black is pretty much my go-to for everything except nightshirts. And I’m 64, still tall but not the twiggy dancer of my youth. I can’t spend $$$hundreds on dresses, but I thought I’d get some inspiration from you here. That navy dress is absolutely lovely…but it’s not black, sigh.

    I love your looks and style even though I’m a monochrome girl myself. Thanks for your ideas!

    • Susan B
      March 31, 2019 / 5:10 pm

      Hi Emily, is it a church wedding? What time of day?

  13. Emily Twaddell
    March 31, 2019 / 5:29 pm

    Thanks for your reply! It’s in the afternoon and is in a church in the town of Bridgnorth, I believe. Millennials, but not the first marriage for either, three young kids between them, on a Wednesday (to save expense). So, not the Royal Wedding, but I get the impression that I ought to be wearing a hat of some sort.

    • Susan B
      March 31, 2019 / 7:41 pm

      Hi Emily, I’m hoping some of my friends from the UK will chime in, as I’m not really up on current wedding etiquette there. My general impression is that they’re a little more formal there than here. Regarding hats, I’m not sure, especially for a weekday wedding. The only thing I could say for certain is that I’d avoid black for a daytime wedding. If you really don’t like wearing color, what about a shade of grey? Here’s a very simple dress in grey that could be accessorized easily for a wedding: https://www.halsbrook.com/shop/dresses/grey-plaid-knit-stretch-wool-dress-36794.htm

  14. Emily Twaddell
    March 31, 2019 / 9:33 pm

    Thanks again!

  15. Molly
    May 1, 2019 / 6:58 pm

    Susan, do you have any ideas for a black tie-optional wedding guest dress that would be a midi or tea length? Any sleeve length would work, but am trying to avoid bling. I love the dress you have pictured above, but need something a bit longer for leg coverage. Thank you!

  16. Molly
    May 1, 2019 / 7:00 pm

    Sorry…to clarify, I meant the mint green dress, above.

    • Susan B
      May 3, 2019 / 10:52 am

      Hi Molly, I’d be inclined to wear a white (or ivory) button-front shirt , knotted at the waist. Pop the collar, add some dramatic jewelry, et voilà.

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