I'm not a "lady", as you solicit in your heading, but have dressed, and made up more woman than any of you probably ever will (my mom loves cruising with me!).
1. The dress is great; yes, go for it.
2. Add a nice piece around your neck. Not tacky, but maybe a slightly oversized pendant of some type.
3. Put your hair up if you want a real "formal" look. The way you look in the pic is okay, but just that--"okay". If you want a red carpet, formal look, do something else. I can picture a 60's higher hair (not wide) look for you. This is also slimming, since it gives the illusion that you are taller than you really are.
4. If you want to go all the way, long, white gloves. This would really make a statement.
5. When you wear black, you need color on your face. You can really pull off red lips and some intense eye color. Do a smoky eye with lighter color on the inner lid, moving darker towards the outside. It is almost impossible to have on too much makeup with a black dress in the evening, in dim lighting. If you aren't good at makeup, find a stylist who can give you one lesson in evening wear makeup.
6. We can't see the shoes were in the pic, however, this is also key toward the sucess of the look; silver, shiny and brilliant for the evening will go a long way.
Nice choice; now just polish it off, and you will look like a celebrity in that outfit. (Trust me, please!)
Alaska / RCL Vision of the Seas, May '98
Mediterranean / RCL Legend of the Seas, July '00
Caribbean / Celebrity Infinity, Nov. '00
Transatlantic / Pacific Princess Final Voyage, Oct. '01
Caribbean / RCL Adventure of the Seas, July '03
Caribbean / NCL Sky, June '04
Caribbean / Celebrity Horizon, Dec. '04
If you can't find "THE" dress in the department stores - try your local "Resale Shops" - in most caces, these dresses/gowns are brand new, never worn or at the very least, used ONCE. Just your "little secret" as to where you found your "look".
Costa Atlantica, Jan. 2002 Caribbean
Dawn Princess, Jan. 2003 Caribbean,
Celebrity Summit - Jan. 2007 Panama Canal - Full Transit
Mariner of the Seas - Jan. 2009 Around the Horn B2B - 30 days