Three Ways To Make Casual Dresses Fancy

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Is there a dress that wouldn’t benefit from my three pillars of holiday dressing?  The pillars being, of course, Fancy Legs (or shoes), Faux Fur and Bling.   I invoke The Towering Pillars of Sartorial Festivus when, say, I’m staring at a cocktail dress, yet I can hear my jeans calling to me.  (Their usual call is along the lines of, ‘BOO YOU WHORE THAT DRESS IS TOO SHORT ANYWAY’.)  Or when lace and 32 degrees suddenly seems like a bad idea.  Or when the nanny arrives for date night and I’m still here, banging away at the computer and Mike’s all “BABE?  YOU READY?”  It’s times like these when denim, wool, and sweater dresses start looking really, REALLY good.

So here’s what I’ve come up with: Three different dresses, all standing upon My Pillars of Sartorial Festivus. Will it hold up?  Let’s see…

ONE – Sweater Dress It UP

I love glittery skinny scarves because they’re fancy, but in an effortless way.  It’s just a scarf!  That I so nonchalantly threw on!  Like that.  Add faux fur, fancy legs and BAM.  (BTW – digging the curved hem of this LOFT dress, and I can vouch for the insane comfort of those stiletto booties.  It’s weird.)



1 – LOFT Sweater Dress, $89

2 – Free People Skinny Scarf

3 – Topshop Luxe Faux Fur Coat, $180 (geez that’s pricey for Topshop – try this one)

4 – Cole Haan Smithson Bootie (seriously, amazingly comfortable – and 50% off at Nordstrom Rack $136)

5 – Nordstrom Clare Lace Tights, $62

6 – Rebecca Minkoff Crossbody, $195


TWO – The Little Print Dress That Could

Now we’re getting into day dress territory.  Not all day dresses are created equal – some will be too casual to pull off – but I think if your dress is dark (black always wins) or richly patterned or has a really great fit….this technique should work just fine.


1 – Free People Modern Love Minidress, $148

2 – Nordstrom Lace Fishnet Tights, $42

3 – Crystal Drop Earrings, $30

4 – Halogen Clutch, $27 (until 11/30) – red is sold out, but there’s a beautiful navy, orange or gray, or…this ‘stingray’ one

5 – Kensie Teddy Bear Faux-Fur, $97 (until 11/30)


Three – The Office Shift

First of all, high-five to Boden for reliably churning out these insanely comfortable and flattering ponte dresses every season.  It will be a dark day when they stop making these dresses.  Anyway, I love glamming up work shifts like this with a little nod to vintage.  We’re still using The Pillars of Festivus Fashion, but this time it’s subtly sexy nude fishnets and a pretty belt.  I like to finish with a bit of an edge (ear crawlers and a leopard clutch).  Oh!  I forgot the fur.  A stole would be perfect for this.  I have (and love) this one from Joe Fresh, but this one from Nordstrom also looks good..




1 – Boden Ottoman Dress, $148

3 – ASOS Leopard Clutch, $27

4 – Anthropologie Belt, $58

5 – Gold D’Orsay Pumps, $159

6 – Nordstrom Super Fishnet Tights (2 for $24)


So the big question is…do you have your own personal pillars ready?  If not, we’d love to help (especially since sales are off-the-hook at the moment).  Check out our new Holiday tab for a list of our favorite Party Shoes, Faux Fur (coats and accessories), Pretty Tights, Evening Bags and Jewelry.



ps.  If you’re just looking for a fancy dress, I highly recommend this one.  The pictures do not do it justice – it’s so flattering (and nursing-friendly), and you can take an additional 25% off the already marked down price.


About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

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  1. High five. Thumbs up. I SO needed this!!!! Thank you!! Love these ideas!!!! Just need to add a skinny scarf and some faux fur to my wardrobe staples 😉

    • Oh good!! So glad you liked it, Lori! And it’s crazy how often my forever21 faux fur jacket has come in handy. Best $50 ever spent. 🙂

  2. FANTABULOUS! Love that top look- need to find a round hem black dress- for much of the rest is in my wardrobe. And you may have just convinced me that those heels need to make it into my shopping cart.Thank you!!!

    PS The last look is genius with nude fishnet hose!

  3. I bought the top Loft dress this weekend. I seems so versatile, nice non itchy, warm knit. They have talls online and 50% off today:) looked nice with otk for work too.

  4. I apologize for not seeing this post earlier. You called yourself a “whore” and that is hilarious and wonderful and even a touch sweet all at once. Awwww…
    Now I need a post on making fancy dresses casual. Are you up for it?

  5. Shana…could the free people mini dress be worn with tights/nylons….and the brown marquis sock boot from free people? If so which leg wear would be best? I want to wear the dress and boots…but legs will be cold!

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