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Thank you! Great article - I was wondering if I have to wear a long dress and I am glad that this is not the case. Unfortunately I simply can't ask advice from my colleagues - and it wouldn't be useful advice either. Still I am a little annoyed to have to buy an outfit and accessories that I have not budgeted for and can't really afford either. It's fair enough that I am expected to have a good amount of suits and workwear for client presentations, but I should not be expected to spend on evening wear, in my opinion. I am not in a particularly well paid position.
You could hire a dress for the occasion, not sure how expensive this option is though. Alternatively search eBay or look in the sales, price match events which are frequently online/in store. There is a great function on the John Lewis website called the style edit, you put in all your vital statistics, body shape, favourite colours etc. and then it compiles recommendations with complete accessories. Personal shoppers are on hand in branch at JL, Selfridges and House of Fraser. Monsoon, Coast and Phase 8 have a great selection for black tie events.
Have you thought of charity shopping? We have a black tie event in a few weeks (we have regular events which require different outfits..it gets expensive) and we went looking in a posh part of our city. I found a suitable very posh dress (if it had been worn at all I would be extremely surprised), and husband found a black tie suit (again in excellent condition, and we think handmade, not from a store) for the princely sum of £27 between the two of us. Nobody would ever know that they came from a charity shop, and I won't be telling anyone.
It's in Europe Olennas I hope that there are no such peculiarities, but the dress I picked from your list is rather short albeit long sleeved, so may be the long sleeves would compensate for the lack in length.