Ask the Strategist: What Are the Best Black-tie-Appropriate Gowns Under $100?

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In our advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please comment with one of your own — we’re here to help.

Question: Hello, Strategist! I have a black-tie wedding to attend this fall, so I need a floor-length dress, but I’m looking to spend under $100. I’m afraid to use Rent the Runway, as I’ve had bad experiences with them in the past. Any recommendations on where to find dresses that are neither slutty nor matronly? (I’m five-foot-eight and size eight.)

Hello! The best place for this is ASOS, with their unbelievably cheap dresses that are also actually pretty nice. To be honest here, this is something I didn’t really need to ask many people about because (1) I just got married and have been very deep in the wedding-industrial complex for the past six months. Even at David’s Bridal, you can’t find a dress for under $129. (2) I posed the question to my friend Ariel anyway because she’s been to about 100 weddings (not exaggerating) and she works at Madewell, so she’s a bit of an expert in this wedding-fashion world. She replied: “I’m not sure that fully exists, but ASOS.” And (3) every time I ask someone over at the Cut about under-$100 clothing or shoes or accessories, they say ASOS. It’s just the go-to spot for this type of thing (although I did manage to find a few great Ralph Lauren dresses on sale at Bloomingdale’s, but that sale ends on October 29, so hurry up for those). For everyone else, we will turn this post into “The 19 Best Black-tie-Appropriate Gowns on ASOS for Under $100.” You will notice, though, that there are a few dresses just slightly over $100. I wanted to include them because they’re nice, and I thought you might like them, too. Lastly, all of these dresses should be available in a size eight, and many of them also come in ASOS’s tall line.

Club L Deep Plunge Back Maxi Dress, Black
$40, ASOS

We’ll start with a very classic sleeveless look with a high neck in front that transforms into a deep V in the back. Perfect for a little something between covered and sexy. It also comes in red, depending on your mood, and I almost can’t even believe this is correct, but it’s $40.

TFNC Off Shoulder Fishtail Maxi Dress With One Shoulder Blouson Sleeve
$87, ASOS

This off-the-shoulder look with one blouse sleeve is also perfect for something between sexy and party. It mostly just reads as elegant and tasteful.

ASOS Chinoiserie Print Maxi Tea Dress
$48, ASOS

Or go for something floral. This one can be dressed up with some silver heels and a nice pair of earrings, and then you can dress it down and wear it again after the wedding.

ASOS Blouson Wrap Maxi Dress With Tie Waist
$60, ASOS

This flowy, sleeveless wrap dress has some interesting detail by the straps.

ASOS Tall Long Sleeve Wrap Maxi Tea Dress
$72, ASOS

This wrap dress is a bit more covered and has some fun ruffles, plus a sexy slit.

ASOS Pleated Velvet Kimono Maxi Dress
$87, ASOS

Or make a statement with something blue and velvet.

TFNC Velvet Maxi Dress With Frill Sleeve
$103, ASOS

If you’re digging the velvet for fall, this more subtle dark-blue dress is more fitted with a great frill sleeve.

ASOS Scuba Puff Sleeve Bardot Maxi Dress
$95, ASOS

I find it’s always fun to show up to a black-tie event in a pop of color, so this elegant cold-shoulder dress in a bright blue with a puff sleeve and sweetheart neckline will do the trick against all those tuxes.

ASOS PREMIUM Wrap Satin Maxi Dress
$111, ASOS

If it’s not too cold, I like this light and airy satin look. You’ll be hot on the dance floor anyway.

TFNC Wedding Flutter Sleeve Fitted Maxi Dress in Chiffon
$95, ASOS

ASOS also carries bridesmaids’ gowns, but this green one is perfect for guests at a black-tie event, too, and it’s under $100.

Little Mistress Embellished Top Ruched Maxi Dress
$108, ASOS

You really can’t go wrong with this black dress whose embellished top adds a touch of a little something special.

ASOS Tall Lace Top Pleated Maxi Dress
$92, ASOS

Another something bright to contrast with the penguins.

TFNC Wedding Sateen Bow Back Maxi Dress
$79, ASOS

This one’s a little bridesmaid-y, but definitely works.

TFNC High Neck Long Sleeve Lace Maxi With Velvet Trims
$111, ASOS

Or go a little Goth, but elegant, black-tie-wedding Goth.

TFNC Tall High Neck Lace Maxi With Scallop Back
$95, ASOS

Chaste in the front, party in the back.

ASOS Flutter Sleeve Pleated Maxi Dress
$87, ASOS

This one just looks like it’s going to be really fun to dance in.

ASOS Lace Insert Paneled Maxi Dress
$108, ASOS

I love this icy gray-blue color. It’s so pretty and gentle. Plus the little sleeve here makes it perfect for more religious affairs.

Little Mistress Tall Cross Neck Maxi Tulle Dress
$114, ASOS

A little something red that just reads, “We’re at a wedding!”

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Ask the Strategist: Under-$100 Gowns for a Black-tie Wedding