What to Wear on a Formal Night on a Cruise | Cocktails, Dinner & Dancing

Red, black & white ombre patterned dress
Although I’m definitely a jeans n’ t-shirt kinda girl, I like any excuse to dress up, especially if party wear is involved. But what should you wear on a formal night on a cruise, when there’s cocktails, dinner and dancing? This was the question I pondered in order to enter a blogger style-off competition: I’d been cordially invited to a “mock evening of dancing and decadence” on board the MSC Splendida and was able to buy myself a suitable outfit, courtesy of MSC Cruises.

So not a real evening on a cruise, just a pretend one… but going on a cruise is something I’ve always fancied, and dressing up is my forte – who was I to resist?!

This was my invitation…

MSC Cruise Dinner & Dancing Invitation

With a budget of £150, I knew it had to be a long dress, but I didn’t want an overly formal gown if there was going to be dancing. I also wanted something floral or perhaps a tropical print for a cruise, and definitely a full skirt for movement. Two dresses I considered were the blush pink maxi jewelled dress from Asos (beautiful but a little too ‘evening wear’ rather than cocktails and dancing) and the tropical floral print maxi dress from Zalando (which was more of a summery maxi dress).

In the end I decided on the Debenhams orange floral border ombre maxi dress (£110), and accessorised with the Warehouse white 50s frame clutch (£26) and the Matalan black and white strappy sandals (£15). Total: £151 – only just over my budget… not bad! The dress is absolutely gorgeous and made me feel very elegant – I love the ombre and the fact that the skirt is pleated, plus it’s full and it swooshes so that’s perfect for dancing.

A beautiful dress calls for some stunning jewellery, so I also added my own beautiful expandable silver and gold necklace and matching bracelet I received from Mark Milton. Really simple, beautiful pieces that, as they’re mixed metal, are really versatile. So with the addition of the jewellery that’s my outfit (and competition entry) complete – I just need an invitation for real… maybe I’ll be treated to a cruise one day 🙂

Have any of you been on a cruise before, and if so, what did you wear? Were there opportunities for cocktails and dancing – and dressing up? Do share in the comments!

Red, black & white ombre patterned dress
Red, black & white ombre patterned dress
Black & white ombre dress & white clutch
White boxy clutch
Red, black & white ombre patterned dress
Red & black ombre patterned dress
Black & white dress, red hair
Black & white dress, white clutch

Update 29/04/2014: I’m so happy to tell you that I won the competition!!! It was judged by the stylist at Girl Meets Dress who said this about my outfit:

“This is one of those gorgeous dresses that really encompasses what summer themes are all about. The silhouette is flawless with a belt to cinch in the waist, and nude accessories to complement the dip dye effect. Catherine’s dress looks like it can be worn in the day or in the evening, which is essential if you’re going on a Cruise and need versatile pieces. This is definitely one of those stand out dresses which will turn heads in a room. Very well done!”

I’m a VERY happy (and lucky) girl 🙂
Catherine x

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Dress: Debenhams, Clutch: Warehouse, Heels: Matalan, Red cuff: Asos, Necklace: c/o Mark Milton, Silver & gold bracelet: c/o Mark Milton, Nails: Rimmel Blue Me Away / Seventeen Monochrome Graffiti Nail Effects

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  1. April 28, 2014 / 11:40 am

    Good choice! Absolutely stunning!

  2. April 28, 2014 / 12:17 pm

    Wowzer, that's a head turner of a dress! Hoist the mainsail and follow that horizon! P x

    • April 30, 2014 / 12:46 pm

      Hehe thanks Sarah – your comments always make chuckle :))

  3. April 28, 2014 / 12:59 pm

    I have never been on a cruise before, but this outfit is gorgeous and perfect for an evening on a cruise!

  4. April 28, 2014 / 1:14 pm

    That gorgeous dress – dipped in red! I have taken several cruises and "anything goes", but a dress like this will be perfection for dining and dancing!

    • April 30, 2014 / 12:47 pm

      Ah that's good to know Patti – I'd so love to go on a cruise!! Thanks my lovely x

  5. April 28, 2014 / 2:30 pm

    One of your best outfits ever! That dress suits you perfectly–elegant and fun.

  6. April 28, 2014 / 2:30 pm

    You look stunning! you definitely made the best choice out of the three xx

  7. April 28, 2014 / 3:31 pm

    Haha, brilliant invitation! And the dress you picked is marvelous! The transitioning colors are so pleasing to the eyes!
    I've always wanted to go on a cruise, but I'm scared of deep water…so I'm pretty sure that if I ever get on a cruise, I'd get drunk to ease the tension and I'd be wearing a safety vest for sure!

    • April 30, 2014 / 12:49 pm

      Haha I'm not the safety vest would go with this dress, Keit…!!!!!! Thanks hun x

  8. April 28, 2014 / 5:19 pm

    Beautiful dress, Catherine. It is perfect for a taller woman, also love the colour gradient.
    Great choice!

    Annette | Lady of Style

  9. April 28, 2014 / 9:48 pm

    What a beautiful dress, you look stunning in it x

  10. April 29, 2014 / 1:50 am

    You know sometimes when you see a dress and it takes your breath way because it so nice? Well, that.
    Its just lovely!

  11. April 29, 2014 / 2:49 am

    What a dress!!!!! I think I'll keep my eyes open for a black and white floral dress to dip dye like that.

    One more thing, so happy you included the close up shot of your face, because you are beautiful, simply beautiful. You have such a soft pretty look with your hair pulled back like that.


    • April 30, 2014 / 12:50 pm

      JJ you're making me blush – thank you!! There is a photography trick to making your face look really soft a in a photo (and it's not post-processing or Photoshop). I'll be sharing it in a Photo Tips post within the next couple of months, so watch this space!

  12. April 29, 2014 / 2:51 am

    Gorgeous! I've been invited to a dinner on a cruise ship once when I lived overseas in the UAE. A floaty, dressy maxidress is PERFECT for such an occasion. But one takeaway from that night: wear dressy flats instead of heels! (The gangplank can be a tricky prospect in heels.)

    Jen @ Librarian for Life & Style

    • April 30, 2014 / 12:52 pm

      OMG the gangplank – never thought of that!! But I'd hope I'd already be on the ship and would only have to make my way to dinner in the heels 😉

      And thank you Jen, so much!

  13. April 29, 2014 / 11:34 am

    You look so beautiful – as always! – dear Catherine!! I think your dress was the perfect choice…elegant, but not overly formal; and the colours look lovely with your hair!! My husband and I (together with another couple) went on an Alaska cruise several years ago, and we were actually invited to dine at the captain's table…which is apparently a big honour!! And yes, I definitely wore a long dress, too!!


    • April 30, 2014 / 12:52 pm

      Woohoo, the captain's table! I'd be so stoked if that happened! I love that you also wore a long dress M. Thank you my lovely as always x

  14. April 29, 2014 / 12:17 pm

    This is such a lovely outfit, that print is gorgeous on you!

    Maria xxx

  15. April 29, 2014 / 9:37 pm

    Well done! I'm not surprised that you won because this is perfect. I could definitely see myself dancing (and drinking) the night away in this dress.


  16. April 30, 2014 / 11:23 am

    Congratulation Catherine.. very well done ! 🙂

    What a gorgeous dress. You look awesome! Wonderful to your red hair, like the color very much 🙂
    What I also like are your white shoes to the dress and the white clutch.. very nice pictures.

    have a nice week
    Dana 🙂

  17. April 30, 2014 / 4:50 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous dress. You look so incredible and I love what you did with the hairpins!

    • May 19, 2014 / 12:26 pm

      I must admit I pinched the idea from Emma Stone that week, Nicole – that's how she was wearing them! Thanks hun x

  18. May 1, 2014 / 3:38 pm

    Congratulations! Your hair went perfect with the dress, Great Choice!

  19. May 2, 2014 / 9:10 pm

    Beautiful choice of dress – I love those colours with your hair (especially the corally bits in the middle of the ombre).

  20. May 4, 2014 / 10:25 am

    Yes, a very beautiful dress which makes YOU look beautiful too. Very well styled. Obviously as you won the competition. Congratulations. Well deserved.

    • May 24, 2014 / 11:56 am

      You are very welcome. When I read about all your fashion trips, magazine photo shoots, ambassador to Le Redoute… I think you are having a ball.

  21. May 6, 2014 / 8:48 pm

    Love the Ombre effect on the dress! A great suggestion for a summer time, date night outfit. (-:

  22. May 7, 2014 / 5:15 am

    This dress is absolutely gorgeous. I love everything about it!!


  23. May 7, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    What a beautiful, breezy dress — and so perfect with your hair color!

    xo, Liz
    {What Dress Code?}

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