Without a doubt one of my favourite aspects of cruise holidays is the fabulous FORMAL evenings!
On each cruise there will usually be at least one formal night, sometimes 3 or 4 - and these are a chance to really go all out on the glitz and glamour, which I LOVE!
After all - I spend most of my life wearing wotsit-stained leggings and baggy sweatshirts with comical mummy-life related statements on them because once you grow a human in your womb, this is henceforth what constitutes fashion! So the chance to wear a glitzy, fancy evening gown and an ACTUAL pair of heels is too good to pass up!
I spend the months before a cruise narrowing down my outfit choices and this is as much a part of the cruise experience for me as actually going on board is - I usually love it! Spending hours browsing for the perfect evening gowns and cocktails dresses, and some appropriately nautical attire for the day times.
However, this time around I found shopping for clothes much more challenging.
I spent months upon months getting the boys cruise outfits sorted out, as - let's be honest - shopping for your kids clothes is so much more fun and when there are nautical shirts and 3 piece suits to be had, who wouldn't want to focus on the teeny ones outfits?!
But this meant that I ended up leaving my own wardrobe to the last minute - and given that I've managed to go up a ridiculous 3 (ok, 4 in some shops!) dresses sizes since our last cruise holiday (pre-children!), there was no way that wearing any of those was an option!
The problem I faced was that I have far more hang ups about my body now than I ever did before I had kids, and I have placed a lot of limitations on myself when it comes to what I will wear - I don't like to show my arms or legs much at all, I like to try to keep my cleavage out of view as much as possible (which is hard with a chest the size of mine!) and I won't wear anything fitted as my lumps and bumps just don't need to be shown off - but more than that, I am also really struggling with some medical issues at the moment which have left me with a VERY bloated stomach that - most days - looks as though I'm 9 months pregnant.
Given that Sailor wasn't going to be travelling with me, I was very paranoid about constantly being asked if I'm expecting and having to face the embarrassment of explaining that I wasn't - so I needed to try to find outfits that A)fitted, B) didn't invite unwanted questions and C) looked half decent.
I found that this was quite a difficult task and after spending a full day trawling around department stores and high street shops, I realised that the only way I was going to get an evening gown that fitted and looked half decent was to pay at least £300 - and that just was not something I was prepared to do!
Luckily, after a LOT of time spent browsing online and sending away for things to try on, I managed to kit myself out.
Here are some of my favourite outfits from the cruise.
This pale blue gown with silver sequin beading on the bodice was a very last minute find, just two days before travelling - I loved the icy blue colour, and it actually reminded me of Elsa from Frozen's dress which seemed very appropriate for a cruise to Norway!
The dress was from Quiz Clothing and was actually from their sale section, reduced to just £50 which I was amazed at! It was sleeveless which concerned me, but I managed to find a shawl in the perfect matching shade of blue on eBay for only £5 - result!
Quiz have an amazing new range of everything from going out dresses to maxi dresses in stock right now, but my favourite have to be their stunning occasion dresses - I am hoping to be a couple of sizes smaller by the next time we cruise and I will absolutely be heading straight to the Quiz website to get my evening cruises when I need them!
This black and pale pink floral patterned playsuit was one of my favourite outfits during the cruise - it was so very comfortable, and could be dressed up with heels for dinner and dressed down again with sparkly flats for the casual evening on board - It was another last minute purchase and I actually spotted it whilst walking past the Reduced rail in Asda - it was a steal at just £10! (I saw another woman wearing it on board on another evening and was SO tempted to give her a wink and whisper "bargain playsuit!" but I thought I'd better not give our secret away!)
This was my favourite daytime outfit during the cruise - it was SO comfortable, and I felt pretty confident in it which is VERY unusual for me!
The bell sleeved navy gypsy top was from Asda and I liked it so much that I bought it in white too, I teamed the navy one with these very comfortable white wide leg trousers from Outfit and a pair of navy blue rope sandals from New Look - I would have worn this every day if it hadn't ended up covered in chocolate!
The HAT - I'll be honest, this was my absolute favourite wardrobe item with me on the cruise - infact it's my favourite wardrobe item ever!
I knew I wanted a hat, I always buy a hat for a holiday - but I usually go for something plain and feel a bit daft wearing it. But when I spotted this beauty in Marks & Spencer of all places, I fell in love - and I felt great wearing it! For once I did not care if people were looking at me thinking "Why is she wearing a hat?!" - I just felt like it looked fab and I don't care if nobody else thought so!
I want to wear it every day.
This dress looked like a very plain, floaty chiffon navy blue maxi dress from the front - so I wore it for a casual evening - but from the back it had definite wow factor with the sparkly diamante encrusted strap detail! I didn't manage to get any great photos of it sadly that do it justice, but I loved it!
This was another last minute find from the ASOS sale!
Wearing lots of evening gowns meant I also needed to find a way to my own hair-up, and I am REALLY bad at doing hair - but I had a little practise before going away and found this super easy style which took less than 2 minutes to do, not bad for a rush job with toddlers climbing off me I'd say!
This was my final formal outfit for the Black & White ball - the photos don't show it well, but it's a long black fitted maxi dress with a chiffon layer over the top half cut asymmetrically - It was from Outfit and I teamed it with a White flower in my hair and a white necklace from Asda to fit with the theme, and an old clutch bag with white detailing from New Look!
This very plain outfit was, believe it or not, my favourite thing to wear because...OMG THE COMFORT!!
After wearing so many fussy dresses and heels (as lovely as they are!), I was SO glad of the chance to wear comfy, stretchy slouchy trousers (these are from Tesco) and a loose fitted comfy top (Again I believe this was from tesco) - and I loved the sleeves on the top!!
And finally, this casual dress was perfect for sea days on board when lounging by the pool - a little shorter (knee length! How times have changed!) than I'd usually wear but I'd just had a spray tan so I went with it...It was very comfortable and again, I loved the sleeves! This was from Asda too!
So all in all, I'd say my cruise wardrobe experience ended up being a good one - although I do have 3 unused dresses from eBay China which were a totally bizzare cut and fit and are now taking up space in my wardrobe - whoops!!
Where are your favourite places to shop for holiday clothes? Do you enjoy formal dressing? As always, I'd love to hear from you!
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