I adore getting dressed up. I always have. There’s something about clothes – and pretty, floaty, sparkly, dressy clothes in particular – that just speak to me. Make me feel a rush of adrenaline, excitement, joy. The swish of a layer of chiffon, the sashay from a cascading train, the sparkle from a bed of sequins, the glint from something metallic or glittery, it all just makes me so SO happy.
But here’s the thing. This current period of life has no call for getting dressed up. It might change again in the future but for now, there’s very rarely an occasion that warrants party wear. I love it, but making room for it in my wardrobe is like hoarding a collection of garden tools when you live in a flat with no garden.
This year I didn’t have one single Christmas night out. There was no Christmas party to attend and even my Christmas Eve party outfit was relegated for a simple midi skirt and jumper when I fell ill over the Christmas period and didn’t have the energy.
Between being Mum to a toddler (and rarely leaving the house past 7pm), working for myself (office Christmas party is always pretty lonely) and living in a city where I still don’t know many people, the ‘party season’ for me basically involves the same evening routine as every other ‘season’ but with a box of quality street thrown in.
I know, woe is me right? But before you all eye roll me for being so melodramatic, I don’t bring this up for sympathy or even so you can laugh at how pathetic my Mum life is. I simply want to give a bit of pretext to what this post is all about. Because although I could write about party-wear until the cows come home (and have done for various other publications), give you endless styling tips for making that – totally out there – dress look chic rather than tacky, and list all the best places to buy a sequin skirt, when it comes to my own blog, I find it so much easier to write from a personal point of view and stick to sharing musings from where my life is at this given point, and style notes that reflect that place. Because I don’t actually mind the fact that I don’t get out much anymore. I don’t mind missing out on the hangovers and the late nights and the loud music. I’d probably much rather be cosy on my sofa with my box of quality street and a movie on the TV. But I do miss the dressing up, I miss the party outfit planning and the accessory buying and the getting ready with the girls side of things. I miss having those dates in the diary that warrant a sparkly new outfit.
And so with it being Hogmanay, the bells set to ring out later and the last occasion for sparkle this year, I thought I’d share my version of party-wear this season.
In the same way I wrote my take on tackling party wear when you’re pregnant, and then tackling it as a new (and extremely tired) first time Mum, this is how I’m tackling it this year as a stay at home freelance Mum who hasn’t had a single cocktail in the whole of December.
Ok so my tip for making use of your favourite party pieces when there really is very little actual partying going on, is simple. You just gotta dress it down a bit. Imagine how you’d wear it for a Christmas lunch at the pub rather than a night on the tiles. Despite not having much in the calendar in the way of nights out, I knew I’d still want to embrace a bit of festive sparkle and don the odd party dress, so I switched things up to make sure I could do so for the festive occasions I did have coming up – party nights in with family, little Christmas lunch/hot chocolate meet ups with Mum friends and babies, Children’s Christmas party at the playgroup, family outings in the week before the big day – without feeling over dressed or out of place. Basically there was no way I was going through December without some sparkle so party or no party, the sequins were coming out.
We all know about the casual party wear formula right? It’s nothing new – sequins for day, dresses with jumpers, skirts and trainers. But the thing is it really WORKS, and it’s a brilliant way to make sure your party pieces get more than one outing and avoid that ‘keeping them for best’ rule that leaves them gathering dust in your wardrobe all year.
I’ve picked a few of my go to party looks to share and below is how I made them work for the daytime Christmas coffee catch ups and the (house) parties for three. But other outfit combos that I didn’t photograph include;
-The sparkly jumper with a cute denim/leather/suede mini skirt, tights and boots (This Joanie Clothing Golden Girl style is a fave!)
– Pretty dresses worn with trainers, and/or a jumper over the top
– A nice party midi skirt (satin/velvet pleated/bright colour) with a simple white tee or plain jumper tucked in and a pair of boots
Look 1 – The Party Dress
Dress – Asos (old) | Coat – Vintage House of Fraser (via eBay) | Boots – Boden (old) | Headband – Orelia Jewellery
I adore this navy and silver dress – I originally bought it for a winter wedding last year but it works equally well as festive party wear too. The sheer layers and the silver glittery design are so fun to don but while previously I’ve dressed it up with high heels, oodles of jewellery and a dressy blazer, I’ve realised it works just as well when worn with ankle boots and an oversized masculine style coat too. These boots are ideal for this outfit as not only are they silver and shiny but they’re also super comfy and easy to wear and I can handle a whole day in them no problem. The coat takes the – out in a party dress – feel away from the outfit and means I can go all out on the accessories with this cute silver star headband and sparkly clutch. I wore this in the week before Christmas when my Husband finished work and the three of us headed out for a little pre-Christmas lunch. I kept it pretty much as you see it here but simply added a little cropped fluffy jumper to dress it down more. I felt great in it and didn’t feel overdressed at all – it was essentially just like wearing a skirt and jumper out, but a sparkly one!
Look 2 – The Sequin Skirt
Skirt – Very | Jumper – H&M | Trainers – Converse | Bag – H&M
This was my one new party purchase for this year as I just couldn’t resist. I’ve been coveting a cool sequin midi for a couple of years now, ever since I had to say goodbye to my beloved dark green style (it no longer fit after pregnancy and I had to accept it never would). I missed out on the H&M A-line midi style (which I still really REALLY want) and I missed out on the silver Zara tiered style (it was too much money to justify) so when I spotted this Very pink number I knew it should be mine. In the end I had to scout it out on eBay as my size had sold out online, but I found a brand new one in my size for less that it was full price so I was happy. I don’t believe that sequins need only be for the party season, and they definitely needn’t only come out at night. In fact dressing down something as wow as a sequin piece for a casual day-wear look is one of my favourite forms of fashion (and what you’ll find me pinning a lot over on Pinterest).
I kept my look really simple and added my trusty Converse (meaning the outfit suddenly works for a parenting outing, or staying in occasion) and a fluffy cream knit. That way the skirt is the stand out piece and there’s nothing to compete with it.
Look 3 – The sparkly Shoes
Jeans – Topshop Jaime | Shoes – Topshop (old) | Jumper – H&M | Coat – Vintage House of Fraser (via eBay)
If in doubt just jazz up a pair of jeans with some – party ready – footwear, and you’re done. Probably the easiest (and my most favoured) style of casual party-wear, and one that never fails.
These shoes are old season from Topshop but they always come out over the festive period and never fail to get some attention. In fact the photos I posted on Instagram featuring these shoes garnered more comments than anything else. I mean, I get it – I love them too. They’re definitely a favourite amongst the, rather large, footwear collection and they don’t kill my feet so it’s win win.
The outfit itself is really nothing to write home about – just jeans, a cropped jumper and that same navy coat again. But add the heels and I feel a lot more ‘put together’. I wore this when meeting some Mum friends for a festive get together, and even though we had kids with us, we met in a cafe full of comfy sofas so I wasn’t on my feet all that much.
My mantra for this years party-wear looks, basically went a little like this…
I knew I didn’t have anywhere in particular to go or a reason to buy anything new so I stopped myself from shopping every single sparkly item I saw on Instagram and instead bought one new thing (the sequin skirt), then worked with what I already had. Otherwise I knew I’d just end up with a bunch of (very pretty admittedly) items that didn’t get worn and hung in my wardrobe until next year.
Stick to one statement item
I held onto this ideal throughout and if I did want to wear something sparkly or sequin-y, made sure that it became the statement piece and kept everything else within the outfit simple and casual. That way I never felt like I was dressed for a wild night out in the middle of Sainsbury’s.
Add comfy footwear always
I have to admit, as much as I love all of my heels, I rarely wear them nowadays. Unless, like the gold ones or the silver boots, they’re comfy enough to handle a full day in. It’s a shame, but being realistic I know that daily life running around after a toddler will be made infinitely more difficult if I add uncomfortable stilettos into the mix. So as much as I knew those court shoes or velvet platforms would look amazing with an outfit, I stuck with flats, trainers or ankle boots for the most part.
Go to town on the accessories
My favourite way to dress up these days, I must admit, is to add accessories. Actually it’s probably always been my favourite. This year I’ve really embraced hair clips, hair ties, ribbons and hairbands. Plus of course some new jewellery and sparkly bags. We all know that the most casual of outfits can be made party ready with the addition of the right jewellery and a sparkly hair clip – so I really went to town with that rule this festive period.
How about you? Did you embrace party-wear this Christmas or were you more of a jeans and festive jumper person?
Photos by Rosie Ann Butcher