How to dress event friendly on a budget

There is one question I ask myself every time a flashy event invite lands in my letter box or email inbox. What on earth am I going to wear? I never really buy anything at full price (I don’t see the point). I’m not a “label whore”, and as you’d all be aware by now majority of my wardrobe is made up of op shop finds, budget basics and bright colourful prints that I’ve found pretty much everywhere. I don’t have a favourite every day label and a lot of my basics can be found in your local Kmart or Big W store. Being a bit of a stinge when it comes to style I like to purchase items I know I’ll wear again in the future. You’ll find a lot clothes in my wardrobe but not a lot of them are “event ready”. So that is why I kind of freak out every time I’m invited to a “fancy” blog event or special occasion where I know everyone will be dolled up to the nines. So when an invite popped up in my email a few weeks back to play VIP for an afternoon at a local swim and resortwear fashion show I had no flipping idea what I was going to wear. 

I knew the designer bags and fancy shoes would be out in full force, but my budget (and taste) don’t really suit that sort of thing. So I went up another route – the bright, colourful, “me” dress. When dressing for events feeling like yourself is the best way to go. If you’re wearing something well out of your comfort zone it will reflect and you’ll be uncomfortable and probably spend the entire time fiddling with your outfit. And that isn’t how you want to portray yourself! You want to ooze confidence, so don’t worry about the rest and always wear something for you.

I actually found this “event ready” dress on sale at wait for it…. Target a few weeks back. I hadn’t been to good old Target in a while and as soon as I saw said dress I knew it was the perfect “me” dress for the upcoming blogger event. What I liked about the dress was the material is thick and the dress is well constructed, and it doesn’t look or feel cheap. I knew the print would suit the vibe of the event I was attending and nothing screams Summer more than bright colour pops. I felt confident in the dress and as we’ve established that is the main point to focus on when dressing for a special occasion! I paired the dress with new season Target heels (sorry can’t afford the Choo’s) and my trusty nude clutch bag from Colette (similar here). Nude accessories are bold but allowed the focus to stay on my dress, plus nude goes with everything so these items will be recycled time and time again. Pretty sure this bag has been to the last five blogger events with me! That’s another tip for event dressing on a budget. Buy a great pair of shoes and a bag that’ll go with more than one outfit. Spend a little extra if you like, as you know you’ll get a good run out of said items. To complete my outfit I added a swipe of coral lipstick and I was ready to enjoy a few cocktails in the sunshine with my friends.

Thinking about it there were so many different styles of outfit at said event I don’t know what I was worrying about, but if you’re like me and fret over what to wear on the more formal occasions, and you have a budget, remember these tips:

1. Don’t be afraid to scale the sale rack – you may find an absolute gem of an item. Remember most stores receive weekly stock and things are reduced almost as soon as they hit the shelves. 

2. Always dress for you. Don’t worry about what everybody else is wearing, be true to your style. 

3. Labels don’t mean a thing, you wear the clothes, they don’t wear you.

4. Comfort is important if you’ll be on your feet for a long period of time. Always wear comfortable shoes, and don’t forget your bandaids if your shoes are new! 

5. Feel confident in what you’re wearing. Believe in what you’re wearing. The rest will flow naturally!

Do you have trouble dressing for special occasions or events? Are you a bargain shopper? Any tips for event shopping on a budget?

E x 

Photo Love: Demelza Buckley


  1. vickithefashionablemum says

    Great post Em! I always think you look great and like you, I try not to pay full price for anything either. X

  2. I feel you so much on this! The high-fashion events are always so daunting with the labels out in force (how much of it is #gifted?!?!) and it’s easy to feel shabby and wrong especially as I always seem to have no time and panic-wear something which is a disaster! You know I love a bargain so I’m right there with you on the sales rack or thrift shop.

  3. twenty says

    The dress you are wearing is beautiful. The cut of that frock is refined looking. Proof you don’t need to spend a fortune to look fabulous.

  4. Karen Suzanne | Style Loving 2 says

    I think you look gorgeous in this dress and labels don’t always mean it looks great, just means it was expensive. I agree you need to feel confident in whatever you are wearing when you go to these type of events.

  5. Em, you always nail your own individual style. Which to me, shows confidence. Outfits don’t maketh the person, its the whole package that counts – and you have it! xx

  6. Pingback: What I Wore: Finding my inner “cool girl”  | The Illusive Femme

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