Maybe your fanciest friend is tying the knot next month, or maybe you have a charity gala coming up—either way, an affordable evening dress is the best way to ensure you don't blow your budget before the holidays while still keeping you appropriately dressed for the occasion.
Naturally, fast-fashion retailers are going to be the first place to look for under-$150 (and even under-$50) finds: Zara's Jackie O–style minidress with a sheer overlay is a steal at $40, while COS has an artsy cocoon number on sale for $68. Wrap-front styles—from Eloquii's shimmering Lurex dress to ASOS's draped gown—are flattering on a wide range of figures, and simple slips are a smart bet (not least because you can dress them down with a moto jacket long after the black-tie party is over).
Click through the gallery below to shop 16 evening dresses that'll earn you the title of best dressed guest—even on a budget.
Pretty in pale peach.
This doubles as a perfect holiday-party dress.
We love the '60s vibe of the sheer flutter sleeves and embellished collar.
Turn heads in this siren-red wrap dress.
You can't go wrong with a sleek black gown.
Velvet is instantly luxe.
This looks super sweet with both heels and flats.
This street style–worthy number is an on-trend choice.
There's a lot going on with this minidress, but somehow, it works.
Play up the ballet vibe with ankle-wrap shoes.
Usually more of a T-shirt person? Try this cool silhouette on for size.
This emerald green is sure to stand out.
Layer a turtleneck underneath, and you can even wear this to a more casual cold-weather affair.
This is the prettiest shade of icy blue.
A touch of lace adds a lingerie feel.
This celestial print is unexpected and totally wearable.