Four on-trend formal dresses in time for May Ball

THE LINE-UP for this year’s May Ball has been released and tickets are on sale, so now the question on many ball-goers’ lips is bound to be: “what on Earth am I going to wear?” It’s easy to think that if you’re going to a formal event you need to splash out on a floor-length ruffly number that costs the rest of your loan, but that’s just not the case. As long as you feel good in what you’re wearing it doesn’t matter if it’s brand new or something you just found in your wardrobe. However, if you want to celebrate the end of the year by treating yourself to a new dress for the May Ball then fear not, I’ve trawled the internet so you don’t have to. Here’s a guide to how looking to this season’s trends can help you find your perfect dress.

The slip (or cami) dress… 


Embellished Floral Cami Midi, £99, Miss Selfridge

This season sees the return of the 90s favourite, the slip (or cami) dress; think Sex and the City, where Sarah Jessica Parker obviously isn’t wearing a bra under hers. This shape of the dress is very basic, usually made from only two pieces of fabric sewn together and held up by spaghetti straps. It can be free-fitting to skim over any lumps and bumps or more closely fitting if you want show off your figure.

As a style inspired by nightwear the slip dress often seems too plain to wear to a formal event, but its simple design makes it the perfect base for bold patterns and embellishment that take it from underwear to party dress. This lovely cream dress from Miss Selfridge is given that extra bit of glamour with it’s pearl-lined bust and straps and its delicate, beaded floral design. The dreamy pastel shades are evocative of long summer evenings (or artsy, retro wallpaper).

In the garden…

Floral Prom Dress, £85, ASOS

Floral Prom Dress, £85, ASOS

I’m surprised that pastels aren’t made as big of a fuss of every spring, as nothing says “the world is thawing and happy, sunny days are coming” quite like them. But 2014 is their year and they make a perfect pair with the old favourite, the floral print. With pastels come an unexpected love affair with metallic accessories, but brightly-coloured accessories or even lipstick can make the outfit really pop.

Florals have been around since the origin of printmaking, but designers are always on the lookout for creative ways to freshen up the old favourite. Although classic floral prints are still popular, this season florals are more abstract, involving bold, contrasting colours and artistic styles like blurred watercolour to create hazy fusions of different colours. Matthew Williamson’s collection includes 3D flowers and bold geometric styles, like flowers that look like a child’s crayon drawing (in the best way possible).

Pastel florals scream “cute daywear”, but the secret to elevating them to the status of a sophisticated evening outfit lies in the shape of the dress; gitted, fifties-style dresses go perfectly with pastel florals. This floral dress from ASOS looks like a more grown-up version of a party dress a friend of mine had as a child, it’s just so wonderfully colourful, with its bold flowers fade into a pastel centre, like a sprinkling of petals.. It has a fitted waist and flared skirt, which would look great with a petticoat.



Annabelle Asymmetric Monochrome Dress, £20, New Look

Annabelle Asymmetric Monochrome Dress, £20, Boohoo

Like florals, the SS14 monochrome trend is a fresh take on a classic look, but a world away from an explosion of colour. Monochrome was huge in the 1960s, with bold, blocky stripes on simple shapes like the shift dress contributing to the androgynous look of the time. Half a century later monochrome has become more feminine, with softer shapes and adorning garments made from more flowing material to soften a harsh contrast and a nod to the Orient. This was evident in Jean-Pierre Braganza’s catwalk show, where kimono-style silk dresses cast a romantic silhouette with less rigid, swirling monochrome designs, like spilling ink on a page.

This asymmetric dress from Boohoo is almost a carbon copy of the one that David Koma unveiled at London Fashion Week, but is a steal at  £20. His envisioned a sense of empowerment for those who wore the dress, with an eastern influence in the striking angular design, a “warrior princess” without losing any femininity. Edgy, with a slight hint of sportiness, you’ll be ready to take on the world in this dress.


Frock and Frill Embellished Lace Skater Dress, £115, ASOS

Frock and Frill Embellished Lace Skater Dress, £115, ASOS

Christmas has long passed, but nothing says “this is a special dress for a special occasion” quite like some beads and sequins. Unfortunately, this is a trend that usually requires money to pull off as the more inexpensive dressed can end up looking tacky. However, don’t panic – levels of embellishment vary from all-over sequins to a sewn-on necklace on a simple dress.

I love this embellished lace dress from ASOS. It’s loose shape and art deco, Byzantine styling give it a 1920s look. The embellishment is striking but, on lace, isn’t too over the top. It has a very dreamy, celestial look to it, with a beautiful flowing shape that is perfect for spring.