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Quite an Occasion

The party season is upon us and it’s time to dust off your party frock and dig out those heels
Long dresses conjure up the swish of a finely executed waltz and the clink of champagne glasses

What if, heaven forebid, that favourite number doesn’t fit anymore, or you simply can’t wear the same outfit again? Then it may just be time to go shopping. Read on for our guide to shopping to look good for the party season.

If it’s a dinner dance or simply the office party, you might want to think long and hard about wearing long.

Sophisticated and elegant – unless you go for the tent-like kaftans – long dresses conjure up the swish of a finely executed waltz and the clink of champagne glasses. And there are some beautiful ones in the shops this season, some of which will make a dent in your budget, others which are absolute bargains.

Should you go dark or make a splash in something bright and colourful? According to research conducted by Sainsbury’s this year, women are more likely to wear dark clothes early in the week, maybe when they are feeling less relaxed and sure of themselves as black tends to be the colour to give us confidence. We must be a nervy bunch as black is the most worn colour, followed by blue.

Black flatters whatever your skin tone, it is slimming, it can be dressed up with wild accessories or offset with simple pearls and it will never go out of fashion. You can also spill red or white wine on it and no-one will notice. The only things to watch out for are if you have a baby (posset spoils the look of an elegant, crushed velvet black shoulder) or a white cat who sheds fur, though some say that no outfit is complete without a little cat hair.

There are long and elegant black dresses in all the shops this year and you can pay anything from Ralph Lauren’s Corrina v-neck dress from the Black Label collection for £1,705, to Monsoon’s Conchita velvet maxi dress with some added sparkle for £129, to a sheer number for the young at heart from Miss Selfridge for just £54. Cut-price black still looks good – again, that’s one of the advantages of the little black dress.

If you are confident already, or if colour is what gives you your boost (the same Sainsbury’s survey found that being a lady in red can also make us feel ready to face the world), there is plenty out there to choose from.

Stand out in the Principles by Ben De Lisi’s metallic triangle dress from Debenhams for £80, and recall the summer with the Butterfly range by Matthew Williamson also at Debenhams (£120).

For a less formal occasion or if you are like me and tend to trip over, or put your foot through, a hem that swishes along the ground, a short dress can be just as glamorous as its longer cousins, especially some of the lacey ones that are in the shops at the moment.


Image - Cara Delevinge models the Top Shop autumn/winter collection, including this limited edition embellished feather hem bodycon dress for £220