Ask Alison: How Can I Wear My Sparkly Cocktail Dress to Dinner at the Taco Truck?

Here's how.
Publish date:
August 12, 2013
shoppables, fashion, style, fun, Sparkles

This week's reader question is courtesy of a clever, lovely babe named Lisa. (Who is also one of our very own contributors!) She writes:

Hi Alison,

I am like a crow -- instantly drawn to anything spangly and silvery. Imagine my delight when I found this DVF shift (originally priced at $695!) at the Barney's New York Outlet for only $70.00.


It's two of the things I love best: crazy deals and shimmery stuff, all in one cute dress.

The thing is, I don't really have anywhere to wear this dress -- no cocktail parties or red carpets or candle-lit dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants. But there is no way I could have passed up such a great bargain!

Can you help me style this dress to make the vibe funky and casual enough so that it will fit my life, which is more afternoon-karaoke in Little Tokyo, food trucks and hanging out on the East Side (yes, Los Angeles)!

Thank you so much!


Might I just start this out by saying that Lisa has just so happened to pose her question to the foremost expert in the field of casual sparkle-wearing in the free world. If costume designers were doctors, sparkles would be my specialty. I'm a sparkleologist, if you will. Wearing sparkly clothing in unexpected places is my signature move.

Also, if you live near a Barney's Outlet and don't hawk it regularly, you're cutting your own throat. I've scored some massive, massive deals there -- like a $1400.00 Lanvin ribbon necklace for only $100.00!

But back to Lisa's question. I believe you can absolutely wear a sparkly, beaded dress that was most likely meant for cocktails in the harsh light of day or to spots more way casual than you'd think. Lisa's dress is actually quite perfect for this, because it's already a casual cut -- it's really just a T-shirt dress that happens to be shiny! The slight sack shape will lend itself to being dressed down quite easily.

Let's work together to style Lisa's sparkly dress for the specific occasions she mentioned, shall we? If you have a sparkle dress in your closet you've been "saving for a special occasion", go ahead and pull it out to play along!


Sneakers + Bracelets by alison-freer featuring a cross bracelet

Lisa could easily pair her spangly T-shirt dress with bare legs and a pair of sneakers. It's the perfect way to instantly undercut the fancy vibe a beaded dress inherently gives off. Sneakers also allow you to bust some serious dance moves at karaoke if the mood strikes. I like a high top sneaker because it mimics the silhouette of an ankle boot and gives the outfit a "finished" look. (Sorry kids, but the wedge sneaker isn't going away anytime soon.)

I'm partial to sneakers by Supra, Nike or Converse that have some sort of athletic feel to them -- they add the heft such a serious garment needs. Wear a simple yet statement making bracelet in a color that complements your kicks to add a little interest while you hold the microphone. Lastly, put your hair up in a no-fuss ponytail to finish this sporty meets fancy look.


Sandals & Red Lippy by alison-freer featuring chunky shoes

You can't go wrong with a pair of flat or low heeled sandals in black and a strong red lip for a curbside dinner at a local food truck. But don't play it safe with your sandals -- find the strappiest, most complicated ones you can to add interest and allow them to hold their own against a beaded dress. I personally am crazy for Lisa's dress with some super flat to-the-knee gladiator sandals.

I don't think you need any additional accessories beyond a super bold red lip -- and those are my all-time faves up there. The Kate Moss for Rimmel Red #1 is my undisputed summertime jam. I've got tubes of it melting everywhere in my life right now.

Don't tell Olivia I said this, but you could even wear a pair of simple rubber flip flops with a sparkly, beaded or sequined dress to really turn the look on it's head. Flip flops with a sparkly dress is the ultimate encapsulation of the high/low aesthetic for the super brave. I think it makes people wonder what exactly the hell you've been up to. I once wore a 1950s prom dress + flip flops to Jumbo's Clown Room on a Tuesday night here in Hollywood -- I almost lost a toe but it ended up being a very, very good night.


Sparkle, Texas Style by alison-freer featuring old gringo boots

I happen to live in Echo Park, which is the area Lisa is referring to in her email. There's a definite laid back style to the girls in our 'hood, which I love -- but I also love dressing up and being fancy more than almost anything.

So I often find myself pressing one of my sparkly dresses into service for a dinner out at Malo or a rock show at The Echo. I just make sure to take the whole look down a few notches by pairing it with some dusty cowboy boots, (preferably ones that don't match my dress AT ALL) my Texas license plate purse, (SO 90s, I know) and a bandanna tied around my wrist or in my hair. You could add tights if you are cold, but bare legs amp up the casual feel of sequins and boots tenfold.

This look is a great way to still feel fancy and not look like you are way too dressed up at a dirty rock show. Plus you can stand for hours in boots, the purse makes a pretty great weapon should a scenario arise, and a bandanna is great for wiping sweat when it gets too steamy in the front row!

Lisa, be sure to go forth and wear your sparkles any damn place you please -- from the grocery store to the taco truck. You'll most likely run into me doing the very same thing.

Keep sending me your questions, I love 'em. Also, I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison