Wearing designer evening gowns is one way to feel instantly elegant. Innovative designs and quality crafting make some designer gowns almost like works of art. Whether you have a special event coming up, or just want to browse through the pictures and dream about the events you'd love to wear them to, you'll be inspired by these gorgeous styles. Here, Michelle Yeoh is wearing a sunny design with delicate draping by Roberto Cavelli.
For a unique designer look, consider selecting a gown that features sheer wraps of fabric that fall to the floor. Here, a model shows off her gorgeous legs despite a long skirt in a dress by Elie Saab. For a balanced look, the embellishments only pause -- instead of stopping completely at mid-thigh, the pattern picks up again near the ankles.
Old Hollywood Charm
Embrace old Hollywood style with a silver, slinky designer evening gown that begs you to apply red lipstick and curl your hair like Marilyn Monroe or Veronica Lake. Don't forget the liner and lashes that give you those beautiful bedroom eyes when you wear a dress like this one (worn by Lin Peng) by Dolce & Gabbana.
From Classic to Trendy
An understated dress with a cutout or two where they aren't expected is a great way to take a classic style to a hot new level. You're sure to catch more than just a passing glance in a dress like the Julie Vino pictured here. If you're worried about everything staying put, dresses cut like this often have sheer fabric that will ensure their maintained shape while giving the illusion of lots of nude skin.
Elegant in Black
Black is a timeless, elegant choice for evening wear. You can't go wrong with a full skirt and deep V neckline. Options for accessories will be endless. This particular gown is by Malan Breton.
Strapless Ruffled Gown
The little black dress gets a massive style makeover in this unique ruffled black strapless gown by L'Wren Scott (seen here on Penelope Cruz). The nude fabric underlays create an alluring, daring look, and the sexy bodice makes the waist look incredibly small. A nude clutch that matches the ruffles is the perfect finishing touch.
Stand Out in a Sea of Black Dresses
Gucci does everything right with this lovely white evening gown with metallic accents to liven it up. Carolina Crescentini's look here is reminiscent of a Greek goddess. Wearing white in a sea of black evening dresses will make you look modern and fresh -- and ensure that you stand out from the crowd. Dresses like this one are perfect for warm-weather events.
White dresses are not just for summer. This white haute couture gown by Roberto Cavalli (seen here on actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) uses lush winter white fabric for a look that's ethereal and dreamy, yet warm and rich. The curve-hugging elongated bodice and flared skirt will beautifully accentuate a feminine figure.
Double-Duty Designer Gown
There are evening dresses that could be worn as wedding attire in a modern wedding, as illustrated by the Gucci gown pictured here on Kate Beckinsale. This dress stands alone as a beautiful white evening gown, but add in the groom and cake and the dress pulls double-duty as an understated, shimmering wedding dress appropriate for almost any venue. This is perfect if you're having trouble spending the money on a designer dress of any kind.
Dresses that look like two pieces, but are actually one, are a unique trend. Take a dress that gives the illusion of being two pieces (a skirt and strapless top, perhaps) and watch the double-takes roll in. This Robert Rodriguez gown worn here by Eva Longoria Parker is both elegant and unexpected, especially thanks to the combination of roses along the skirt and the more streamlined bodice.
Modern Flapper Style
It's always a pleasure to visit styles from yesterday and give them a modern look. This Versace gown (seen here on Eva Mendes) screams sexy flapper from the 1920s, but it isn't an exact replica. Sheer panels, longer fringe, and an open back make the style new again.
There's never anything wrong with femininity or romance from the past, especially when you're going to a formal event with a special love. Gowns, like this Christian Dior selelection on Eva Herzigova, sometimes seem to effortlessly encompass what it means to be a woman with their feminine details and designs. Though a throwback to yesteryear's romance, there's nothing old-fashioned about this dress with its modern neckline and off-the-shoulder style.
Edgy Ball Gown
For the edgy Cinderella types, there are ball gowns in black with layers and layers of material to get lost in. Designer evening dresses come in a wide range, so even if you're not a girly-girl in love with lace and pastels, there's an evening gown that will make you feel at home. This modern ball gown designed by Michael Costello is an excellent example with its unexpected cutout along the abdomen and the mysterious blackened forest green bottom layer.
Asymmetrical Gown, Fewer Accessories
Sleek lines and dark colors are gorgeous in a column-style dress like the one by Michael Kors pictured here on Gwyneth Paltrow. Dresses with one strap play up your upper body without revealing too much. Onlookers won't be able to stop talking about your beautiful silhouette. If accessories aren't your thing, you'll love that asymmetrical styles like this one don't require much to look fabulous.
Elegant Peplum with a Futuristic Twist
If you're looking for a gown that is a cross between flouncy and elegant, a lovely peplum dress, like this one from Hendrik Vermeulen (modeled by Madeline Stewart) might be the right choice for you. It's elegant yet playful, old-fashioned yet futuristic, making it an excellent choice for a variety of occasions.
This champagne-colored evening dress by Badgley Mischka is an elegant and feminine look, perfect for any event where glamour is the order of the day. The flirty skirt layers are balanced by a form-fitting, embellished bodice. The overall look absolutely glows, but it isn't overwhelming and would suit many personality types and formal events.
Shimmering Gold with Black
Like champagne, gold is a warm neutral that works wonderfully on evening gowns. This fresh pairing of sparkling gold and black in this mermaid-style evening dress by Roberto Cavalli (worn by Naomi Campbell) shows a unique mix of simple elegance and elaborate detail. The dress design is streamlined, but the fabric shows stunning, intricate beadwork.
This classy, unfussy Armani gown uses unique yet deceptively simple details to create a one-of-a-kind look. Tiny front pleats create fullness in the skirt, and the crisscrossing at the bust draw the eye upward. The detail along the single strap adds additional visual interest and pairs well with the overall subdued, elegant tone of the dress.
Bold color can be a great way to make a strong impression at a formal event. Jason Wu's bold pink and black dress design is perfect for the lady who wants to turn heads in a sea of champagne and black styles. This particular design gives the illusion of being a two-piece set with a structured, delicate bodice and a long, wispy skirt for balance.
A well-crafted and beautifully designed evening gown is ideal for a formal occasion, and evening gown styles vary widely enough to fit any personality, body type, or event. From elegant to avant-garde, there is a broad range of styles from today's designers.