I did a styled 3 ways post back last Spring about the Deadly is the Female Claudia gown, as a one off. That post was inspired by the fact that I didn’t let myself buy a dress I really wanted until I realised just how versatile it could be for me. This post, though, will almost be the opposite; I wanted the Tilly Velvet prom dress by The Pretty Dress Company for a couple years, but because it was so obviously an occasion dress, and also happened to be outside of the budget for what I will usually spend on a dress, it was totally off my conceivable buy list until it went on sale this January. Even once it was on sale I couldn’t help but um and ah over it, not just because I’ve largely got into better habits about fully thinking through bigger purchases, but also because it mostly felt like a special occasion dress, and as much as I love those and believe they need not be saved for best, realistically I couldn’t deny that I have so many fancy dresses that I really didn’t need another one, especially in the (hopefully!) tail end of a pandemic.
In the end I caved and treated myself, vaguely telling myself it would be more versatile than it initially appeared. But in all honesty, even though I knew that was true, I didn’t really believe myself that I would wear this dress in any way other than full glamour. That’s silly on so many fronts, and so today I’m testing myself to another 3 way styling challenge to remind myself–and hopefully inspire you, if you’re someone who struggles to think up outfit combinations–that every item of clothing can live a dozen different lives, if only we allow it.
Full On Glam
It’s the obvious styling choice with this dress, but I couldn’t not include glamour as one of these outfit styles because COME ON! Glamour is literally the reason this dress was designed, and I love everything about it. For me leaning into metallics feels like the natural glitzy accompaniment for this velvet number, and I prefer gold to add some warmth to my otherwise very pale cool skin. Faux fur echoes the lushness of the velvet but with a different texture, plus it helps add not only some warmth but also some coverage for moments when I might feel a bit out of practice about having my arms and décolletage on show, so this Old Hollywood touch is actually much more practical than it might first appear. This velvet Rachel hat, handmade by Belbeina Lee, is an almost perfect match for the sapphire velvet of the dress, so there was little choice but for me to wear it.
Casual Biker Babe
I love wearing cardigans and will throw them over almost any outfit because I live in England, where it is chilly to some extent for probably 75% of the year. The bows on this dress would create unsightly bumps under a cardigan, though, so I knew a sturdier outer layer would be required for me to winterize this dress. It was an instant choice for me, then, not to reach for my fabulous faux-fur trimmed long vintage inspired coats, but instead to lean into contrast by opting for my faux leather cropped biker jacket. I love that this jacket offers not only a textural contrast to the soft velvet, but also a contrast in expectations; yes, this is a very pretty, glamorous velvet prom dress, and yes, this is a casual, edgy leather jacket. Adding this jacket automatically brings this dress down to a more wearable level, to the extent that adding ankle boots and some dark tights means I could wear this dress pretty much anywhere–an easy-going dinner, shopping, out for drinks, to the cinema, wherever. You know, in the alternate reality where I am doing any of those things at all rather than staying home whenever I’m not working because I still don’t want to get and spread covid. <strained teeth-baring grimace>
The point is, I think this look is genuinely casual AF, and will work on anyone. I do need you to pretend I added a thin black velvet belt to this outfit though, because I meant to and forgot, and I’m still mad at myself for it.
Oxford Romance Core
When mulling over the no-cardigans quandary of this dress I also concluded that a sheer pussybow blouse would be a great option for wearing underneath it. I wanted the look to ultimately be another relaxed daytime option, as fancy frolicking is so much the easy choice with this dress, so I decided there should be brown leather layered in to ground the look and neutralise the glamour of the velvet. As someone who doesn’t understand what Dark Academia and all the other social media aesthetics really are (help! I’m old now!) I don’t know if this outfit has a vibe that more knowledgeable trendsters--that’s trendy youngsters. It’s totally a thing. Tell your friends–will recognise as a specific -core, but to me it felt a bit like a practical version of someone who is library-obsessed deciding they wanted to wear their favourite dress while they went out and about that day.
I wanted to wear knee high boots to prove they could work with this dress, but I added the backpack to match them and give the look a practical accessory that could handle a full day out of the house easily. The vintage brooch was a nod to the fact that practicality doesn’t require you ditch everything shiny, and the belt was added just to cinch the waist in a little. I think this look would look just as cute with a pair of matching flats, but I love the juxtaposition of the tall boots.
So what do you think, which look is your favourite?
Would you be interested in this ‘styled 3 ways’ challenge becoming a series?
Disclaimer: Some items featured in this review were previously gifted to me by the aforementioned brands in exchange for an honest review or a feature on Instagram. Items marked with an asterix* are items I bought myself from companies that have previously gifted me other items for review. All opinions expressed are truthful and my own, with no input from any of the companies listed or any other individuals.
COVID-19 NOTE: These pictures were taken alone and safely in a secluded outdoors area with no other individuals present or passing, thus practising strict social distancing measures in an effort to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.