Dress Up a Boring Gown With These Tips

How to Make a Plain Gown Stunning

Have a simple one-color gown that fits well but could use a bit of a… lift? Whether it’s adding some sparkle, creating a dramatic hair and makeup look or even altering the hem, it’s actually pretty easy to dress up a plain dress. Check out these tips and pick a few to boost your gown’s potential. Just… don’t try them all at once!

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Add Costume Jewelry

Jenna Ortega
Steve Granitz / Getty Images

It’s amazing what a piece of jewelry can do. Add a statement necklace to your dress, whether it’s a 16-inch necklace featuring wide stones and resin pieces or long strands of gold and silver. Or, slip on a wrist full of bangle charm bracelets and a huge cocktail ring, and watch your outfit suddenly shine.

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Get Creative With a Brooch

Miley Cyrus
Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

An artfully placed jeweled brooch can add a bit of sparkle to your dress in an instant. Pin it at the waist of your dress, on the bust or on a wide one-shoulder strap to add detail where there was none before!

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Carry a Bright Bag.

Woman with a red clutch
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Let a stand-out bag be the focal point of your ensemble. Carry an oversized sparkle-encrusted clutch, a bejeweled purse with a chain strap or a brightly-colored purse to give your plain dress a boost.

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Make Your Shoes the Outfit Centerpiece

Cocktail dress with flashy shoes
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If your dress is basic, your shoes have permission to be absolutely outrageous. Pick a pair of loud neon heels, jewel-encrusted pumps with a clear five-inch heel, or one-of-a-kind vintage wedges, and your outfit will suddenly rock.

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Create a Dramatic Makeup Look

Katy Perry
Katy Perry's rainbow eye shadow is easy to copy for prom!. Getty Images

Now is the time to experiment with a fun multi-colored eyeshadow look, an excess of overly dark kohl eyeliner, or super bold lips in red, rich maroon or even purple.

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Indulge in Nail Art

nail detail
Becky G's funky nails. Jason LaVeris / Contributor / Getty Images

Imagine your dress as a blank palette and your nails as a canvas. Get creative by gluing on tiny jewels, stickers, and drawing on your own nail designs. Get nail inspiration here.

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Go All out With Your Hair

formal hairdo
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As far as your outfit goes, a fabulous updo can mean the difference between boring and brilliant. Skip your everyday loose style and create a curly updo, crimped hairstyle, or a braided look.

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Add a Headpiece or a Hat

Fascinator Hat
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A vintage hat with netting that coyly covers your eyes, a jeweled headpiece wrapped around your updo, or even a 60s-inspired flower crown overflowing locks can make your outfit more stylish.

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Experiment With a Belt

Emma Watson fashion
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

If your dress has a defined waist, whether it’s empire or at your natural waist, add a belt! Try wide or skinny belts, elastic or tying a silk scarf into a cute bow.

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Add Your Own Embellishments

Close-Up Of Artwork On Dress
Amelie Ackemann / EyeEm / Getty Images

Get creative! Maybe you’re extra handy with a needle and have some extra sequins lying around—sew them into a pattern! Or maybe you have an artsy flower that you can place on your sleeve or hip or an old silk scarf that could be crafted into a bow. A plain dress is a perfect opportunity to play designer.

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Have It Hemmed

A young seamstress works behind her sewing machine.

A tailor can really do wonders for a worn-out frock. Have your gown shortened to a mini dress, and you won’t even recognize it! Or, have a short-sleeved or one shoulder dress made into a strapless gown, or have a tea-length gown turned into a high-low hem.

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Add Funky Tights

funky tights
Actress Jenna Ortega shows off her funky tights at the Hollywood premiere of Disney's 'Moana'. Barry King / Getty Images

Lacy patterned tights, wild colored tights or even knee-highs can really do a lot to an outfit. When the dress is plain, the accessories should be bold!