5 tummy-friendly cocktail frocks

5 for Friday: tummy-friendly cocktail frocks

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 40 Comments

Do you have a special occasion coming up? Something you need to frock up for?

I must admit, I do relish the challenges that these kind of events bring. For me, they’re either a chance to dip into the cocktail frock end of my wardrobe or an “opportunity” to go shopping for a welcome addition to that end of my wardrobe.

Recently, a reader emailed me on this very topic:

I was wondering if you would consider doing a blog post on cocktail dresses for mums with a bit of a tummy. I have been invited to a good friend’s wedding in London in September which I am super excited about but not sure what to wear with the dress code being cocktail dress. Katherine

Katherine, yes I can. In fact it excites me to share some of my tummy-friendly cocktail frock buying tips because over the years it’s something I’m not ashamed to boast that I’ve excelled at … out of necessity.

Before I get into some shopping suggestions, let me run through some of the things I’ve learned:

1. Even the most svelte of A-list celebs wear shapewear. The need to harness your tummy (and other wobbly bits) into your Spanx, Nancy Ganz or budget Hold Me Tights should not be considered a failure. These are your wardrobe friends in creating a smooth, VPL-free line. They are a bugger if you are drinking a view vinos at a function though … they bring new meaning to quality bathroom time. And let’s not talk of that moment when your partner discovers you are not wearing the sexy underwear in his fantasies he thought you were …

2. Work with your body shape, not against it. Yes, some styles might need a bit of shapewear help but working in conjunction with this should be woman-friendly cuts of fabrics. Strategic placement of stretchy fabric, gathering, tucks, and belting will do all sorts of camouflaging goodness.

3. Don’t rule out a patterned frock. Like the detailing mentioned in point 2, a printed fabric can disguise all the tummy bits you want to disguise.

4. If in doubt, go the kaftan style. My favourite and particularly good if the function includes a buffet 😉 Seriously, a sheer kaftan style with a fitted slip underneath can make you look and feel uber-fabulous. Just add strappy heels and grab the nearest champagne flute.

5. Every cocktail frock wardrobe needs a little black dress. If you want to buy something that can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion, look for a style and fabric that would work for day with wedges and necklace but then equally as well all blinged up for night-time action. Think chandelier earrings, classic patent ’50s style pumps and a cocktail ring that will not be missed when wrapped around that aforementioned champagne glass.

Now let’s go shopping …

5 tummy-friendly cocktail frocks

1. Joseph Ribkoff dress @ Zambezee Boutique $279 | 2. George dress @ Eve Boutique (on sale) $180 | 3. Jacqui E dress $149.95 | 4. Cue dress $239 | 5. Paradise kaftan @ The Iconic (on sale) $102.50

Two of the online boutiques I’ve linked to above (1 and 2) are from my go-to special occasion boutiques on the Sunshine Coast. I love that they’re online for you all to enjoy but if you’re ever visiting this area, do stop in and check them out.

Oh, and the reason I spend a bit more on my cocktail frocks? I want them to be wardrobe friends for many years and experience has taught me that by spending a bit extra, I get a more forgiving and flattering cut than I otherwise would. And that makes said cocktail dresses very wardrobe friendly.

Two other Australian labels to check out for special occasion pieces (and ones that I can vouch for their tummy-friendly qualities!) are Sacha Drake and Matthew Eager. Both designers know how to shape a frock to suit a woman. And that makes me smile. A lot.

Do you have somewhere special to dress up for in the next few months? Got any other style questions you’d like me to tackle in a blog post?

PS. Don’t forget to take my survey for a chance to win a $150 Westfield gift card … if you haven’t done so already.

Comments 40

  1. Love the Cue dress, such a beautiful cut and I adore the bow detail. I’ve got a few “frock up” occasions coming up over the next 6 months…but the dress I am most excited to wear should be arriving in the next month – my wedding dress! xx

  2. Would love a post on shoes! I struggle to match shoes with outfits, especially with dresses and skirts. Closed in flats seem ‘clunky’ and heels are either way too uncomfortable to wear all day or too sky high (I”m tall!). Thanks

  3. I am totally LOVING these frocks Nikki! I’m struggling though with having gorgeous legs poking out of them though. I used to have great legs, but they ain’t what they used to be. What would you suggest I wear on my legs with these flattering frocks?

    1. Most of these have decent frock lengths, Krisha (unlike some I’ve seen out there!). I’m sure you’re being harsh on your legs! If you do want to cover up, I’d suggest either a gradual tanning lotion or a sheer tight. With tights, you need to wear enclosed shoes too. Hope that helps!

  4. Would love a post on shoes! I find it so hard to match shoes with outfits, especially with skirts and dresses – closed in flats always look ‘clunky’ but there are not many heels that are comfy or they are super high heeled (I am tall!) Thanks!

  5. As I’m only too familiar with this fashion dilemma, I have to say I don’t think number 1 would work (for me anyway). One piece swimsuits are also not my friend. Tankinis rule!

  6. Hi Nikki! I was wondering if you have any recommendations for dresses for formal occasions such as balls. And what is your take on wearing a cocktail length dress to one. I have a law students ball coming up and I’m usually not a fan of long dresses. I feel as if they tend to wear me rather than I them. I saw this dress on another blog was wondering if you thought it would be a little outlandish? http://lookbook.nu/look/3725117-One-year?lookswidget

    1. I have worn a cocktail length frock to a ball – but here on the Sunshine Coast where the dress code isn’t always followed to the tee. I like the look of that dress. If you do opt for long (as is strictly the case for balls) go for a streamlined cut, the lesser the fabric the less it will wear you.

  7. I absolutely love that Cue dress. It would certainly be a good go-to dress for a number of occasions and could easily be dressed up or down. I also love the kaftan idea! I see lots of friends struggle to find something when they have an occasion coming up and end up really stressed or buying something that will “just do”. I think sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and have something like one of these dresses in your wardrobe so when an event comes up you know you have something to wear. Especially now when so many are on sale … not only will you find something you like (stress free) but you might just find a bargain too!

    1. PS. I am not sure if anyone else struggles with this but I find ankle boots and jeans/pants a really difficult thing. Can you wear ankle boots and pants? Does is it only work when pants are a certainly length/style? I prefer slim cut jeans but do ankle boots only work with skinny jeans? Of course on stick thin models they look great no matter what really but do they work for us all? Maybe you could share your thoughts about this? Sorry for all the questions but I have struggled with this and can’t seem to work out the answer.

      1. Ankle boots work best with skinny leg jeans as a pant option. By all means wear them with tights and frocks but don’t dismiss skinny leg jeans. That’s all I wear now! It’s what you wear on top that makes it work.

  8. Hi Nikki, I don’t have a special occasion coming up (apart from a trip south for which I am collecting merino layers!!) but I will pass this onto a friend wondering what to wear to a December wedding xx

  9. Love the kaftan choice – that will be my next event purchase I think. My go-to cocktail frock store is Maiocchi in Brisbane. Flattering clothes (I have big boobs, and a tummy I prefer to disguise), great sales staff and when they are on sale their clothes are a steal. They last forever. Most styles include prints, but there’s plenty of black bases too 🙂 I just got the Fanciful dress in cranberry
    and picked up the Rapunzel Dress because … well … I was there??

  10. Oh Matthew Eagar is my fav…the fabrics are stunning, fits a curvy girl and make you fee fab! I have 3 in my evening wardrobe (although purchased pre-kids so not as well fitting now)!

  11. No I don’t have any special occasions to go to Nikki,not that I know of anyway though I love your suggestions above,love number 5.I do love a kaftan style dress though ,they are very forgiving and feel lovely on and can be worn for a number of occasions i bought a lovely witchery dress that is sort of kaftan it ties up inside and is black cream and olive silk which I bought on sale at Witchery in Melbourne airport ,I wore it to my husbands Christmas party last year and felt very chic,I do have a lovely dress that is a wool and silk fabric with beading around the neckline in charcoal and it has a self belt and a slip,That is the only LBD I own . I only don’t have black because it doesn’t suit me is this ok to go for charcoals and greys instead of black as it makes me look old and sick,or should I go for a black background with a floral or print and another question what shoes can you wear when you can’t do heels I can’t because of my knee,I have worn the dress with dainty wedges not too chunky and is there any other options you may be able to recommend to me !! I don’t want to look like a granny though,shoes just seem tobe getting higher and higher.

  12. Hi Nikki,
    I just bought a cocktail dress for my friends wedding. The wedding is in August at a restaurant at Mt Mee so it can be a bit chilly, windy etc. I was going to purchase a black wrap and can’t decide whether to purchase fashion tights and enclosed in round patent shoes i love from Mollini. I have never worn tights with cocktail to a wedding! Other option is no tights and strappy heels ! What to do? xx

      1. Forgot to mention the dress is strapless! That’s why I don’t know if I could pull off the fashion tights? x

          1. I do have a crop jacket but not dressy enough but could definitely look at getting one! That link didn’t work so I am not sure what you were showing me? Thanks for the helpful tips : )

  13. Love, love, love Sasha Drake. I have three ‘occasional’ dresses of hers, one of which I’ve had for five years. Each one is still as stylish today as it was the day they were purchased, and they all make me feel like a princess…and I always get compliments when I wear them.

    And Spanx rock!

  14. ah Nikki , I love these, and I am going to go looking. I make a big effort whenever we go out, even to dinner at a posh restaurant (at a motel, lol) here in our little town. My hubby does a lot of MC work and is an Auctioneer by trade, and is called upon a lot to do these for major events as well. A lot of the time we are front and centre! So I make sure I meet the bill, I like an arsenal of outfits. I used to sew most of my clothes, but I don’t have the time anymore, plus do you think overall a lot of clothing has become much more reasonably priced in the last 15 years? Maybe my income has just increased so outfitting myself doesn’t have such a bite! I don’t have anywhere special on the calendar yet, but sometimes we get ‘jobs’ thrown upon us with a couple of days notice, so I am always on the lookout for bits and pieces to suit my shape( which can be a bit hard to fit!) I try to always have sleeves in my outfits as they are pretty big guns, with a fair bit of tuck shop arm thrown in, and this can be really hard, especially when you are trying to cover the sins of a 3 baby belly bulge and a life of indulgence in the diet dept! THe shapewear that I absolutely adore and wear everyday is the Ambra range it is fantastic, I think mine are the waist killer, they come all the way up to under the bust, aren’t too hot, don’t roll down, and aren’t so inflexible that they cut into me. I totally agree with all 5 of your points! I know exactly what suits my shape these days!

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