I"m a big believer in dressing appropriately and, especially if you're attending an official ball, you should keep this in mind. But the way you can set yourself apart is with how you accessorize your look. Do something amazing with your jewelry, shoes, and bag. You might only break out the gown once a year (maybe less), but you're sure to be able to use the accessories again and again. Don't "save" your money in this department. The tiny, pave diamond studded half hoop earrings are not going to cut it. But jewelry doesn't have to be fine so go straight to the department store today with an open mind and start looking at the costume stuff. Also, some boutique jewelry stores will rent the real stuff to you for a night. This is your chance to wear a vintage piece or pieces that you could never afford in real life. (Check out Lawrence Miller and Co if you like this option.) When it gets down to it, your dress can be pretty plain Jane but, with the right accessories, will turn every head in the joint and have all those photogs asking, "Who's that?" And you won't even half to wear a midriff-baring red sari to do it.
Maxi dress, $160 / Amrita Singh bangle bracelet / Forever New bangle bracelet, $26 / Noir Jewelry bib necklace, $335 / DANNIJO collar necklace / Cuff necklace / Alexis Bittar art deco jewelry / Oasis bracelets jewelry, $23 / Nina cuff bracelet / Amrita Singh chandelier earrings / Kate Spade statement necklace / Amrita Singh turquoise jewelry / Baccarat bangle bracelet / Alexis Bittar / Rachel Zoe jewelry / Suzanna Dai tear drop earrings / DANNIJO stud earrings / Belle Noel by Kim Kardashian stud earrings