If you have a job like I had, working in marketing and PR, this time of year usually sees an increase in the number of events, do’s, cocktail parties and office parties that you are invited to.
It’s difficult enough finding ‘the’ dress to wear to a private function but what do you do when you’re strapped for cash and have to appear in your finery several times before Santa’s even got into his sleigh?
It’s tempting to stick to the tried and tested LBD but you don’t always want to blend in, do you?
Equally, in some professions, it’s not acceptable to have too much on show (law for example) if you want to be taken seriously.
So, not only do you need a capsule working wardrobe, it makes sense to have a working ‘party’ wardrobe as well.
A couple of well-cut dresses which use shimmering or soft fabrics that drape well would work well for lunches or early evening functions.
This dress in stretch velvet with a pleated skirt in aubergine, for example, from Esprit, ticks all the boxes with its beautiful colour, figure-hugging top and pleated skirt.
Comfortable to wear it has the added bonus of not being too restricting if you’re sitting down for a 3-course meal with all the trimmings. There’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable for hours whilst trying to stay awake during the senior partner’s deeply unfunny speech.
Or you could try one of these
House of Fraser Issa Jasmine Embellished Batwing Dress
The batwing shape and softly draped material are very forgiving in mince pie season!
Marks & Spencer Sparkly Long Sleeve Shift Dress
This is a piece you could wear year after year – or at least I would!
JD Williams Pewter Ruched Sequin Dress
This one has just the right amount of sparkle without going over the top.
And, of course, you’ll need a bag big enough for essentials such as keys, lippie and cash but also your mobile – tricky if you have a plus-size phone like I do. Then there’s the problem of rain and the nightmare of being unable to walk in high heels.
I have often found myself taking a spare bag with flat shoes, an umbrella and notes (speaker notes, slide print outs, brochures) and hiding it whilst going into dinner with just a clutch bag! Not ideal.
The other challenge, of course, is what to wear on top of your party finery. Many women forego coats altogether if they are going clubbing but that doesn’t seem quite right when you’re attending a corporate ‘do, does it?
You want something that is going to keep you dry but isn’t so heavy that you swelter and your make-up melts.
You don’t want too pricey a coat either at things often tend to ‘wander’ at corporate functions or get lost under piles of other coats in unmanned cloakrooms.
Whatever you do, make sure you buy your festive dresses as soon as possible because they tend to vanish as soon as they appear – particularly with key pieces from brands like M&S, Hobbs or Karen Millen.
My advice would be to buy ‘safe’ for business club do’s and corporate drinks but splash out on something with extra glamour for the office ‘do’ itself.
Whatever you buy, make sure it’s comfortable to wear, dry cleanable and, hopefully, won’t be worn by numerous other party guests.
The best way around this is to be quirky with your choice of accessories – an unusual clutch, brooch or statement earrings for example or pair a plain dress with some patterned or sparkly stockings and statement heels or sandals.
Make the most of feeling glamorous. With a bit of careful budgeting, you can use the money you save to treat yourself to a professional updo or make-up session, perhaps a massage before the big event or a Mani / Pedi. There’s nothing worse than trying to do your nails last minute while you are waiting for a taxi!
Above all, make sure you keep an eye on your personal safety and don’t drink too much. Declaring your love for your manager whilst singing “I did it my way” will make the evening memorable but it’s probably better to be remembered for how chic and glamorous you looked.