30 Sensational Gowns for Fancy Occasions, as Recommended by a Stylist

Ever felt that sense of dread when you’ve been invited to a big, beautiful event but suddenly realise you’ll have to find something fabulous to wear? Or maybe you’re a regular at those kinds of gorgeous forays and relish the chance to dress up. Either way, it’s always nice to have a gown or two in your arsenal to pull out on such occasions. Something sensational and timeless and, of course, that makes you feel like a million dollars. 


(Image credit: @bettinalooney)

Whether the dress code is more refined black-tie or the ritzier, more glamorous white-tie, or even if you’re just looking for a full-length gown to see you through many seasons of festivities and weddings (or perhaps, a dress for your own nuptials), below, we’ve rounded up 30 of the very best gowns to shop now. From more affordable ASOS versions to all-out Taller Marmo numbers, there’s something for every budget. 


(Image credit: @annarvitiello)

Team Who What Wear has over a decade of combined experience working in the industry as stylists, fashion editors and merchandisers, and having dressed stars for glamorous magazine covers and red carpet events, we can, by now, pinpoint the traits of an enduring gown that turns heads but always feels elegant—one that is unique yet timeless and appropriate for the majority of formal occasions. Our advice? Look out for unique, elevated details—things like a cape effect, a feathered trim or an interesting neckline. Even an unexpected colour (of course, black and white remain the most classic, but opt for a bright hue that looks incredible on you and you’re bound to be remembered) or textured fabric. Either that or channel Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and go extremely minimalist. 

Keep scrolling to see the 30 best gowns that we, as stylists and all-round "fashion people," would happily wear for elegant affairs this year and for many to come. If only our invites hadn’t got lost in the post…

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Emily Dawes
Affiliate Editor

Emily Dawes is the very definition of a fashion multi hyphenate. An editor, stylist and writer with over eleven years’ worth of experience in the industry, Emily is known for her impeccable taste, elegant outfit choices and being able to spot the next big thing in fashion from a mile off. Our readers loyally trust her advice and shopping suggestions; so much so she began her own column documenting the most expensive-looking pieces on the high street, which has become a top-performing piece of content for the Who What Wear brand.

Emily has worked for Who What Wear UK since 2020 in a myriad as roles, spanning from contributing editor and branded content editor. Now, she holds the position of affiliate editor and is responsible for the brand’s overall affiliate strategy, ideation and content execution. Working closely with Who What Wear UK’s affiliate manager, Emily has been instrumental in securing and nourishing brand partnerships, surpassing her goals as standard. Leading the team in tentpole shopping moments including Black Friday and Peak Trading, with Emily’s guidance and leadership, team Who What Wear is in a stronger affiliate position than ever before.

Prior to joining the Who What Wear team, Emily served as YOU Magazine’s acting fashion editor where she managed the fashion team and oversaw all fashion content output for the fast-paced weekly title. Emily is a stylist in her own right, having worked with a slew of VIP clients including writer and television personality, Elizabeth Day, as well as styling and art directing several celebrity cover shoots for glossy print publication, Grazia. Her adept fashion knowledge means brands regularly sought out to work with her as a consultant: previously she has developed marketing and content plans for brands for Cocoon and Edge of Ember. Before entering the industry, Emily obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies with International Study from Nottingham University. Fun fact: Emily spent a year studying in America which saw her join a sorority during her time there.

When she’s not working or tracking down the chicest, new-in items to share with our audience, you’ll find Emily bestowing her East London home with her stylish flair, reading everything from the classics to cowboy romance novels and escaping to the country with husband, baby boy and dog, Roo, whenever she can.

Emily is currently on maternity leave.

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