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Tips for Buying a Comfortable Evening Gown and Shoes

Throughout the years, Abby Slutsky has found that she can dress for formal events without sacrificing comfort.

Choosing a flattering dress that is comfortable is key to enjoying a formal affair. Photo by Lucas Lourenço:

Choosing a flattering dress that is comfortable is key to enjoying a formal affair. Photo by Lucas Lourenço:

If you are a woman, you probably either love or hate formal weddings and other celebrations. Even if you love them, it is likely that you have spent many of them being uncomfortable for hours. Perhaps, the room is freezing, or maybe your strapless bra keeps falling downward. Of course, the ultimate discomfort is those shoes you are wearing. They may be beautiful to look at (when they are not hidden by the gown), but they may be pinching your toes or the heels may be too high to walk in, let alone dance. The good news is that if you think before you buy and make comfort a priority, you can look gorgeous and be comfortable at your next formal event.

Select a Dress and Style That Fits Well

Decide what is important to you when picking a dress. I happen to have dark hair and can never quite get a close enough shave to like sleeveless, so my requirements are there must be some type of sleeve, and I must be able to wear it with a regular bra that has straps. In addition, my formal dresses are almost always black and are a timeless style I can wear for years. Your requirements may be different than mine, but here are some dress features to consider:

1. Braless or Built-in Shelf Bra

Some women do not have to worry about bras. If that is you, embrace it and wear something that you love because you do not have to worry about sagging, bouncing, or bra straps peeking out of your garment.

2. Neckline

You will know when you see the right neckline, but you may gravitate to certain necklines naturally. Is the neckline too revealing, or are you comfortable in that style?

3. Plunging Back

This can be a sexy look if you have a beautiful back, but not everyone does. If you have scars or scratches, choose another style.

4. Material and/or Lining

Make sure the fabric is not made out of fibers that will be itchy or uncomfortable. Many women prefer a dress that has a lining, as well. If you are buying a dress online, it is worth reading a lot of reviews to see how the purchasers liked the fabric and feel of the dress.

5. Long Sleeve or Matching Jacket

Some women always seem to be cold, and you can almost always expect air conditioning at an indoor, formal event. If you don’t have a wrap to bring, sleeve length can be important unless you want to wind up wearing your date’s tuxedo jacket.

6. Form Fitting Versus Loose Fit

Buy what you feel comfortable wearing. Gowns can be expensive, so do not let the saleslady or your friends or family members talk you into something that does not make you feel beautiful or complement your body. (Of course, if you are a bridesmaid, all bets are off, but most of the time you are in control of what you wear.)

Evening Gown Price

Price really does not have to do with the comfort of a dress. Nevertheless, you should be able to find a dress that fits is comfortable for your wallet and your shape. The trick is to shop early, so there is not pressure to settle for a dress that is not exactly what you want. If you feel time pressure and are on a limited budget, you may wind up sacrificing comfort to buy a dress that meets your budget. Once you identify a dress, price shop it by putting in the style number online and manufacturer. You can also put the honey app on your computer, which will automatically find discounts for you

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These comfortable, reasonably-priced shoes were a find that let me dance for hours without pain.

These comfortable, reasonably-priced shoes were a find that let me dance for hours without pain.

Here are the same shoes jazzed up with clip on accents.

Here are the same shoes jazzed up with clip on accents.


My grandfather used to own a chain of shoe stores. He would often say that shoes are the only clothing that can hurt you, so do not be afraid to invest in a comfortable pair. Of course, it can be challenging to find shoes that are dressy enough for a gown yet comfortable for your feet.

Lucky me, I recently found a pair. I bought the Clark’s Illeana Gem Mule heels, and I can’t say enough about how comfy my feet were the whole five hours. I didn’t have to take my shoes off once during the party, and I danced nearly the entire time because I was best friends with the bride’s mother. The heel had just enough height to be perfect for a formal, but it was low enough to dance easily while maintaining my balance. In fact, I loved the shoes so much that I bought a second pair to put away.

The shoes ran true to size, and the price point was excellent. The front of the shoes are closed-toe and simple, but I jazzed mine up a little by adding some shoe jewelry to them. However, the shoes are attractive enough to wear as is.

The Polkar Shoe Clips are similar to ones that I own. They have a satin bow that is embellished with faux crystals and will clip easily to any shoe.The Polkar clips have the same type of hinged fastener that my shoe clips use. I personally have not had a problem with losing shoe clips. Nevertheless, I do glance down at them once in a while when I am dancing. Occasionally, I use clip earrings to embellish a pair of heels, so you may have a pair of comfortable pumps in your closet that you can make fancy inexpensively without purchasing clips specifically designed for shoes.

If you are shopping for a new pair of dressy shoes, be sure to walk in them in the store. Make sure they are not tight and that you feel secure when walking in them. Don't assume they will stretch out or magically get comfortable; it rarely happens. Since shoes are often hidden by your gown, think comfort over style.

Remember, it is easy to enjoy attending a formal event if you prioritize comfort when you shop. Enjoy shopping for the perfect gown and shoes.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Abby Slutsky

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