How to Dress to Impress for President's Ball: Havana Nights Themed

The return of short shorts and open-toed shoes in Buntrock means one thing: the sun is back and summer is fast approaching! With the end of the year, of course, comes the President’s Ball: one more chance to show off your fabulous, fashionable taste. This year, the warmth and steaminess of the coming summer months will be making an appearance at the dance.
 
This year’s theme, Havana Nights, could not be more fitting. The fluctuating Minnesota weather has left us all craving the warmth and ease of a Caribbean night, and (excuse me for thinking solely about clothing) retro-style clothing is unbelievably chic right now!
 
So, how does one channel their inner 1950s Cuban goddess while still looking modern and stylish? The answer, my fellow fashion lovers, is all in the details.
The Dress
The key to working your magic at the President’s Ball is, of course, wearing the perfect dress. The trick here is to pick one style and run with it. If you start to mix too many elements, you may end up looking like you are in a costume, and the goal here is to channel 1950s Havana without making it look kitschy. It is also imperative that you do not simply throw on a sundress and add heels because the theme feels laid-back. This is, after all, still a formal dance. Think of this as a chance to truly work your fashion skills and find a dress that fits not only the theme, but also the occasion. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
 
Ruffles, if styled correctly, can evoke the warm and sultry Caribbean feel quickly and easily. While you dance, the fabric moves with you, creating a sultry atmosphere around you.

Evan Picone Dress, Sleeveless Racerback with Tiered Skirt, $99.00 from macys.com
 
Deep v-neck halter dresses are a wonderful option, and unbelievably flattering. The style was immensely popular in the 1950s, and still is immensely popular today.
 
Maggy London Dress, Halter Empire Waist Evening Dress, $108.00 from macys.com
 
Large rosettes parallel the beautiful tropical flowers that many Caribbean travelers wear in their hair.

Pleated Organza Bustier Dress, $648.00 from bcbg.com
 
Or, for the more economically minded collegiate fashionista:

Crepe Rosette Dress, $32.00 from forever21.com
 
If you want to go with a more traditional 1950s look, the polka dot is very popular currently. It is especially chic when paired with the exotic ruffles that help set the mood.

Speckled Ruffled Dress, $24.80 at forever21.com
 
When in doubt, go with a deep tropical hue. Red, black, and deep oranges, blues and golds all evoke the sultry warmth this dance requires.

ECI Dress, Sleeveless V-Neck Floral Beaded, $59.00 from macys.com
 
The Accessories
The key to topping off any fine dress is to accessorize it correctly. This is really where you can play with the theme and add your own personality.
 
First, the red lip is a must. Sultry and sophisticated, it evokes the sexy Cuban feel (and can look good on ANY skin tone).

Add to that a patent leather pump – you can't go wrong. It is a classic shoe, immensely popular in the 1950s, and just as stylish today as it ever was.

Madden Girl Sursey Patent Pump, $39.99 at dsw.com
 
If you are looking for a show with a little more pizazz, I recommend a t-strap shoe with a low, thick heel. Perfect for dancing!

Kimchi Blue Wingtip Heel, $48.00 from urbanoutfitters.com
 
If you really want to get into the theme, a low, slicked chignon is a necessity. It keeps the hair out of your face and allows you to show off the one accessory that is a must for anyone in attendance at this dance (regardless of hairstyle): the large flower.

(image source: http://aprilleflye.blogspot.com/2011/02/elegant-hair-styles-for-perfect-prom.html)
 
Of course, there is one accessory that you cannot buy in a store: a beautiful dance partner. But I have no doubt that with these tricks, you will catch the eye of every boy at the President’s Ball and will be doing the salsa, flamenco, and mambo before the night is over.
 
See you Saturday, bonitas!