Tip 1: A black-tie event dress can be almost anything. What sets this type of dress apart from other dresses, sometimes isn't even the dress at all - but the whole look! The accessories, hair, shoes and make up can all dress up an outfit or look.
Tip 2: So, getting a black-tie appropriate dress that you can wear again shouldn't be too hard, right? By keeping it short (knee-length), you have more opportunity to wear it again. People tend to think black tie = ball gown/floor length, but that isn't the case (back to tip 1).
Tip 3: Finding a short dress to wear to this type of an event still may not allow you to wear it everywhere, but by getting something classic, that you can wear to multiple events and parties on different fancy scales is easy to do, when you get the right dress.
Tip 4: With the right fabric (silk, satin, taffeta, beaded, sequined, etc) and cut (and fits properly), choosing a black dress can be perfectly acceptable for a black-tie event. A black dress is classic and can easily be dressed up or down and worn for many events throughout the year. Take this black satin dress from White House, Black Market (on sale):
This dress is perfectly styled with high (and embellished) heels and an eye catching necklace for a black tie event. You could even swap out black heels for a pop of color, or embellished with jewels or sparkly (like I'm wearing here, or these).
To extend this dress beyond the fanciest of events, swap out the accessories/heels first, add a belt, jacket and/or layer a tee underneath (depending on where you are going, of course)!
Examples of additions - belt from Gap, wedge ankle boots from Piperlime and stripe knit top from J.Crew
Other black dress options (for under $100):
Rushing and rhinestone straps leave this dress jewelry optional
Simple and easy for dressing up and down in this strapless dress
Perfectly sweet taffeta dress