Black Tie Optional Looks for Less

Last week I shared my black tie optional look for a family wedding I attended recently, and I was asked to recreate the look for less. I thought it might be fun to make a post out of it.

While I wasn’t able to find pieces that exactly mirrored the ones I wore, I did round up a bunch of cocktail dresses under $100* and some accompanying accessories that would finish off any of these dresses nicely, so my basic outfit formula stays the same.

ONE: dress // earrings // bag // shoes

TWO: dress // earrings // necklace // bag // shoes

THREE: dress // earrings // bag // shoes

The formula is a dark cocktail dress, plus black & crystal shoes, and silver sparkly accessories.

It was hard to find shoes with the black suede and crystal combo, so I’ve also linked up some plain silver options as well. And of course, you could go with gold rather than silver if that’s your preference.

Cocktail Dresses Under $100

* The dresses at Lord + Taylor are an additional 30% off with code FRIENDS.

Special Occasion Shoes Under $100*

* Okay, one pair is JUST over $100, but they were such a great option (a lower heel too!) that I had to include them.

Evening Bags Under $50

Jewelry Options (Most Under $50)

For fashion jewelry that won’t break the bank, I like the Baublebar and Cristabelle brands. Both make jewelry with tons of sparkle that look more expensive than they are.

Depending on the neckline of your dress, you may or may not need a necklace. (I went without and wore these earrings instead.) If you go with a necklace, I would go with smaller complementary earrings — something like this.

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21 Responses

  1. I don’t know shop for Christmas until after Thanksgiving because I buy too much 😳 I will be ready for holiday posts in November. 

  2. I’ve been enjoying your blog and even more since I learned you live in suburban Philly as do I! I wanted to mention that I went to Paris in August and loved every minute of it! Pinch me! A must would be breakfast at Angelina’s. Her hot chocolate is like drinking a brownie!

  3. Thanks for this! I have a question about cocktail dresses and shoes. Since ankle surgery I can’t wear my dressy sandal high heels anymore, not even for a few hours. But I don’t like the way my cocktail dress looks with low heel or flat shoes. Any suggestions? I’m thinking about switching to a dressy cocktail pantsuit just so the shoes won’t be as noticeable.

    1. Debbie, I know what you mean about lower heels not looking quite right. I just don’t like wearing high heels, so I try to find alternatives. I’m not sure if these styles would work for you due to your ankle, but I like the Nina Elenora sandals and Anne Klein Fabulist pumps in silver. Good luck!

  4. I was one of the readers trying to recreate your black-tie-optional look on a budget! I tried on the black dress featured in look #1, and it was very flattering. I chose a different Calvin Klein dress that I ordered from CK in my size. I found Nina Elenora dress sandals, a similar shimmery wrap, and a similar silver bag, all on Amazon. All very reasonable prices!

    Sadly, the dress didn’t arrive in time, so I had to run out the day of the event I was attending and buy something else. None of the pretty accessories worked with it. Lol!

  5. Great post. I would say most Christmas Party’s would be starting late November, so early November is great. Any time for Christmas shopping – I have started to take advantage of Amazon Prime and the “Black Friday” events over the years.

    Love the green dress from Asos. I do have to admit I have one or two dresses that I rotate every year and in between I just buy a great blouse to go with my dressy black skirt – one I would wear to work as well so I can get more bang for my buck.

  6. I’m ready for all things Christmas this year. Usually it’s too early to even start thinking about it but not this year.
    Love the dress options here! 

  7. Great post! I went to a “black tie optional” fundraiser gala Saturday night and my sweetie wore a dark suit and I wore a wide-legged sapphire blue jumpsuit (Nine West- Nordstrom last year), strappy sandals, and some big sparkly earrings. I was the only one there in a jumpsuit and received lots of compliments. I must have tried 25 before I found the right one last year but this is the second time I’ve worn it. I originally bought it for an evening wedding, which worked out great. Jumpsuits are great for dancing in.

  8. Ha I saw Cyndi’s post this morning. Oddly enough I’m in the Christmas mode… we of course have already had our thanksgiving and we head over to the states in about a week and I start some shopping ( I’ve already picked up a few things ) got to get it when you see it and take advantage of sales. I’d like to see some casual holiday tops styled with jeans and flats or booties. There’s not a lot of dress up occasions and most seem to wear jeans anyway. 
    Have a great day

  9. This was an awesome post and very timely – thank you! We have a corporate holiday party the weekend before Thanksgiving every year, another party two weekends before Christmas and yet a third that alternates from October – February because it’s usually centered around an event such as a play/musical/etc. I prefer the earlier the better on your gift guide – esp for teens.

  10. Yes, yes, and yes please start your gift guide early. I like to shop early. I need girl ideas for 26-33 yrs. :). They are getting hard to shop for. Thanks. I also prefer more causal holiday outfits to wear. 

  11. Hi Jo Lynne,
    Saw your video on Instagram and you were wearing a gray leopard scarf. Its gorgeous! I have been looking for one for a couple weeks in gray. Where did you purchase? Thank you.

  12. I’m in the middle of moving (fun but so much work!).  I cannot even begin to think about Christmas until mid November.  I would love a post at some point on “Country Club” casual…dinner ideas that are not jeans. I really enjoy your posts…I truly look forward to my coffee time and your posts.

  13. I would love gift ideas for your very best friend who has everything and if she doesn’t buys it for herself……………..we go shopping and i get ideas and then she orders it online. What is a girl to do…….I have done tickets to musicals etc………so there’s that…..help

  14. I just love your blog, and I would like to weigh in on dressing for a special occasion. Between family weddings and  different social locations, we have several every year.

    First of all , plan ahead. Whenever I see an end of the season or a really significant sale, I will look. Anytime I am in a store, I  walk through the markdown racks. I look for classic, simple decently made dresses  that are relatively cheap. I may not wear them for many months, but eventually I do. 

    Shoes,….For the most part, I wait until the major retailers have an additional 30 or 40% off. Lord and Taylor does this several times a year as does Macy’s.  I look for both comfort and bling… I am older, but I can comfortably wear a 3 inch heel .  Make certain you can dance in them …..LOL 

    Bags…Blingy bags are great , and I love vintage bags… If a relative doesn’t have any, consignment stores are great… I love my mom’s small pearl clutch….. tasteful and a conversation piece.

    Shawls…. lots to be found at the discount stores or on sale..

    Jewelry…. I have some nice pieces, but I still look for cheap tasteful pieces in consignment  and discount stores and on line.

    In my opinion, you can get inspired by our wonderful bloggers, but the look you make is your own….Enjoy!

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