PARTY QUEEN / Jan 24, 2022


A sweet 16 is a milestone birthday party in a teenage girl's life. Like a quinceanera (a Latino tradition that celebrates young girls turning 15), a sweet 16 involves beautiful dresses, delicious cakes, and well-decorated venues.

But what do you wear to a sweet 16 party?

When it comes to the lady of the hour, we believe she should wear whatever she wants! No matter the formality of the party, she should wear an outfit that makes her feel special. (And she can find all sorts of options in our dress catalog.)

If you're a female guest attending a sweet 16 party, then we're here to help narrow down the options. Take a look at the invitation—does it request casual, semi-formal, formal, or black-tie attire? Once you know how formal it is, we'll help you get dressed for the occasion!

1. For Semi-Formal Sweet 16 Parties

Let's say you open up your invitation, and it says semi-formal or cocktail attire. What do you wear to this sweet 16 party?

Semi-formal is one of the toughest dress codes—it can mean so many things! Your safest bet is to wear a cocktail dress.

Cocktail attire is not super formal—so you don't need to bust out a ball gown—but it does encourage sparkle and glam. Typically, women wear short or mid-length dresses, but a cute pantsuit or skirt will also do!

Sweet 16 parties are all about celebrating femininity, so we love dresses in pastel hues, like lavender, peach, mauve, and baby blue.

A-line and babydoll silhouettes are classic cuts for a semi-formal sweet 16 dress. (Bonus points: they're super flattering!)

Embellishments, embroidery, and jewelry are all ways to add something special to your look. Don't forget to wear some showstopping heels—they'll be on display!

baby blue cocktail dress

Get the look: style GS1613 | Embroidered Bodice Halter Short Dress

2. For Formal Sweet 16 Parties

But what to wear to a formal sweet 16 party? This is where the fun begins!

Formal dresses can be long or short, though if you wear a short one, we recommend that it's closer to the knee and has a higher neckline.

A formal sweet 16 party is the perfect occasion to bring out that black dress—if it's in a lux fabric, like satin or silk, even better! If it features rhinestones, gems, beads, or embroidery, then you hit the jackpot!

For a formal look, it's essential to do your hair and makeup. Throw your hair in an updo, curl your hair, or sweep it to the side for an elegant hairstyle. When it comes to makeup, you can totally get away with a bold red lip here. Or, add a smokey eye!

While you may be able to wear sandals or wedges for a casual or semi-casual look, for this sweet 16 party, it's best to wear heels!

black ruffled dress

Get the look: style GS1603 | Sequin and Rhinestone Bodice Satin Short Dress /w Side Pockets

3. For Black-Tie Sweet 16 Parties

If you're not sure what to wear to a black-tie sweet 16 party, here's our two cents: the more glamor, the better.

You don't want to underdress at a black-tie event. (Don't worry, it's pretty hard to overdress!) Long dresses—even ball gowns—are the norm.

Dark jewel tones are classic hues for black-tie events: emerald, ruby, and sapphire are perfect colors to rock at this sweet 16 party. (Or, black, of course.)

Off-the-shoulder sleeves and sweetheart necklines are on-trend this season—and they certainly pair well with a black-tie gown.

Looking for a sexy silhouette? We recommend trying a mermaid dress. It's a fitted dress that flares out at the knee. These dresses hug all your curves—hello bombshell!

How should you accessorize? Wear something you would never get the chance to wear—like a headpiece! We'll take any chance we get to make an outfit feel extra special.

ling off-shoulder dress

Get the look: style GL2958 | Embroidered Cut-Away Shoulder Jersey Long Dress w/ V-Back

4. For Casual Sweet 16 Parties

Now, when they say casual, they don't mean ripped jeans and a white tank top. It's still a sweet 16 birthday party! So we recommend opting for a jumpsuit or fun flowy dress.

Printed dresses are the perfect look for casual sweet 16 parties. You can dress them up with heels or wedges, dress them down with sandals or sneakers, or make them bold with a chunky belt.

While you don't need to hire a hair and makeup artist and get completely done up for these parties, we still recommend doing a little somethin' somethin'. Some loose waves in a half-do would look effortlessly chic. Throw on some mascara and lip gloss, and you're ready for the party!

casual red dress

🌺 Fashion Inspo for More Special Events

The teenage years offer many times to dress up and feel like a princess. If you're looking for dresses for other occasions, we have you covered:

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