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Sweet 16 Party Dress: Here’s What to Consider

The sweet sixteen is an iconic North American tradition. Young girls throughout the US and Canada celebrate the transition to adulthood with a special party. These celebrations range from formal and lavish to simple and understated. But if you are making the most out of your sweet 16 party, you’ll want a special dress to mark the occasion. 

Sweet 16 Party Dress: Here’s What to Consider

We’ve got some killer fashion tips to help you choose the perfect dress!


Formality dress

How big of an event do you want to throw? If you are the type that loves to be the center of attention, there is no better opportunity to dress to the nines in a full formal affair. But if formality is not your style, you can wear diamonds with your jeans too.


For a casual vibe when you want to be comfortable, most of your guests will arrive wearing jeans, and your attire shouldn’t upstage them or make them feel out of place. We love the idea of pairing opposites like a casual t-shirt dress with heeled booties and chandelier earrings. Or, match the denim vibes by pairing a cotton dress with a denim jacket.


It’s totally acceptable to dress things up a little. A short A-line dress with a printed pattern or solid color is a great choice for a semi-casual event. Imagine that your guests will be wearing a combination of chic jumpsuits, simple dresses, and khaki trousers with button-down shirts. Avoid wearing satin, shimmery, or glittery dresses that tend to feel a little more formal.

Formal/Black Tie Optional

If you want a formal affair, but you don’t want to put your guests out by requiring them to buy a new wardrobe for the party, black-tie optional attire is your best bet. You get to dress up your look as fancy as you would like without putting pressure on anyone else to match your style. Stick with mid-length and full-length dresses made out of luxury fabrics and finish the look with statement accessories.

Black Tie

For a full-fledged formal event, think high-end style with luxury finishes. That means that you will need a full-length dress made from luxury fabric. The only thing you need to decide is how full you want your dress. If you are booking a ballroom for plenty of dancing, consider the flounce factor when trying on dresses.

Match your Style

Match your Style

Above all else, when you are dress shopping, you should try to match your personal style preferences. If you stick to styles that compliment your body style and skin tone, you will feel confident at your sweet 16 party.


When it comes to choosing a color, think about your everyday wardrobe. What outfits make you look great and feel confident? Draw from those colors when shopping for a dress. If you have a darker complexion, light colors work well. But if you are fair-skinned, avoid both too light and too dark colors that can make you look washed out. A nice medium blue color can be a great choice for pale skin and blond hair.


Don’t wear something that doesn’t make you feel comfortable. If you don’t like your legs, wear a full-length dress regardless of the formality. Thanks to maxi dresses, there are plenty of colors and styles for something casual and full length. But with that being said, cocktail dresses tend to be shorter, and black tie dresses tend to be longer.


If you are unsure what your style preference is, we recommend starting with a simple A-line dress which is generally flattering on anyone. But if you have your eye on something more dramatic, here are some simple rules to follow.

For a pear-shaped body that is slimmer in the shoulders and wider in the hips, try a maxi dress or a shift dress with an open v-neckline to elongate your overall look. For an hourglass shape with a thin waist that is markedly narrower than the hips or shoulders, wrap and mermaid dresses look amazing. We especially recommend anything that cinches at the waist or that incorporates a belt.

If you are apple-shaped, stay away from overly fitted styles and use styling techniques like plunging necklines and flowing hemlines. A wrap dress with a long v-neck and a tie belt is a great option. For athletic types that have straight, toned bodies, a halter dress or something asymmetrical can look great.

Add Accessories


The sweet 16 ensemble isn’t just about the dress. It’s about the whole enchilada. When dress shopping, consider how you might wear your hair and do your makeup. Some girls like to showcase their voluminous curls, while others want their hair up and out of the way.


Up or down, it doesn’t matter as long as it makes you feel elegant and comfortable. The only rule is that you should match your hairstyle with the level of formality. For a casual party, consider a blowout to showcase your locks’ natural state. A set of curlers and a fancy barrette can dress things up beyond the everyday for semi-casual. And a tiara and classic updo can fit the bill for a formal affair.


Make-up is a personal style choice as well. However, if you don’t wear a lot of makeup every day, the sweet 16 isn’t the time to reinvent your style. The more formal the affair, the more color you can use. For a casual party, stick with natural tones and focus on evening skin tone. For a little dressy, add some shimmer to your natural look. And for a formal affair, embrace red lips and dramatic lashes.

Finish the look with the right accents. A pair of diamond studs and a simple locket necklace or simple accent necklace can be a good choice for a casual look. Level up to a statement necklace and earrings that dangle for a dressy look. And skip the costume jewelry in favor of real gold and precious gems for formal attire.

Final Thoughts on Dressing for Your Sweet 16 Party

Your sweet 16 party is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Celebrate the day in style with a level of formality that fits your personality. Let the dress dictate the details of the event. That means choosing the dress comes first. The color scheme, activities, and decorations can all be tailored to your personal style. But it is the dress that is the statement piece.

A casual look relies on comfortable cotton fabrics and denim accents paired with simple, understated luxury like small diamond studs. Wearing your hair down with a blowout and natural makeup can help you feel like yourself. But for the center-of-attention types, a full formal event is in order. That means a boutique updo, professional makeup, and jewelry that catches the light just right.

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