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Ideas to make a plain dress to look more fancy

Updated March 23, 2017

You got a plain dress on sale, or maybe found a cute-but-plain one in the attic. Now what? You can leave it as is, of course, or you can dress it up and personalise it with trendy accessories and stylish modifications. The good news is that you don't need to be a seamstress to take a plain dress from ho-hum to hot.

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Wear the Right Shoes

A sexy little black dress needs the right shoes to really pop. Try a pair of strappy black heels with rhinestones or silver glitter on the straps to draw the eye down your legs. Make a yellow dress come to colourful life with a pair of bright red pumps. For a plain cotton summer dress, try a pair of tall Cleopatra sandals embellished with beads or flowers on the toe. Chunky straw wedges will give personality to a short tunic dress. Don't pick shoes that detract from your dress, however; keep your shoes classy and stylish, but understated. Too much bling can overpower your dress.

Add Jewelry

It's easy to overaccessorize, so add pieces one at a time and evaluate your look. It's best to dress up a plain dress with a few small touches and one focal point, such as several long beaded necklaces or large gold hoop earrings. Never wear more than one ring on each hand; however, two different coloured (but matching, such as pink and light blue) stones can add glitter and colour to a plain summer dress, as can a big gold or silver brooch attached near the breastbone. For a plain evening dress, wear a pendant that reaches the top of the cleavage with a collection of bangles on one wrist and small teardrop earrings.

Experiment With Accessories

Dress up a plain white dress with a striking coloured belt, such as bold red or purple. Carry a matching clutch. Experiment with headbands; a studded or coloured one can draw attention to your hair and face and give a single-hued dress a dash of colour. However, a headband the same colour as your dress can give you a very put-together appearance. Glue a coloured silk flower to a solid-colour headband for a sweet, pretty look. Tie a small scarf around your neck to give an otherwise plain dress a touch of sophistication, or add a faux fur stole or bolero to add class.


Sew capped sleeves onto a plain strapless dress for a stunning look that will draw attention to your neck and breastbone. You could also try tulle or ruffled straps to draw the eye up to your face. Add coloured lace to the hem of any plain dress to give it a delicate, feminine look. Sew tiny bows, gems or flowers around the neck and hem. Add belt loops to your dress and weave a sash through.

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About the Author

Kate Bradley began writing professionally in 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a minor in German from Berry College in Rome, Ga; TEFL/TESOL certification from ITC International in Prague; and a Master of Arts in integrated global communication from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.

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