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I Just Tried on 20 “Wow” Party Outfits—From Gucci to Zara

by Joy Montgomery –

Here at Who What Wear UK, we’re all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That’s why we’ve created a new shopping column, The Joy of Shopping, which will see me, Joy Montgomery, heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to the brands you might’ve forgotten about, prepare for changing room selfies aplenty. Is there something you’d like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or Instagram me your requests!

If you take away one thing from this article let it be this: A party outfit is for life, not just for Christmas. Across the UK, thousands of sad sequinned tops and velvet dresses are being neglected and starved of affection. They’re bought for a party, given the spotlight for one fleeting moment, then shunned to the back of the wardrobe, never to see the light of day. Well, we say enough is enough—it’s time to reverse this vicious cycle of rejection and create a future free of party dress abandonment.

This November, we’re on a mission to put a little more thought and care into our shopping trips. We’re not here to judge (we all have a few style skeletons in our closets, after all), but sometimes the smallest change in attitude can make the biggest difference. For us, it’s about investing in party pieces that will give the best pay-off in the long-run, but without compromising on style. Ultimately, we all want to feel a million dollars whatever our budget, but sometimes, the key to longevity is finding something that makes you feel the most fabulous version of you. It never gets old.

It might sound heretical for a fashion editor to say this, but feel free to ignore trends. Yes, it’s always fun to get inspired by the mood of the season (it’s ‘80s if you’re wondering), but if your personal style doesn’t match this, then sod it. I hate to be cheesy, but the confidence you gain from the perfect outfit is worth so much more and has far greater fashion endurance than trend kudos.

I did a little mooching around stores this week to find 20 outfits that make my heart sing. No pressure to follow my lead, but I hope it gets your creative juices flowing. At the top of my list is a power party suit from & Other Stories, which will look so good with a slicked-back bun and strappy heels. I also tried on my dream party minidress from Vampire’s Wife, which is as statement as I go. Just wait till you see the shoulders. See you on the dancefloor. Scroll down to see and shop my full edit.

Style Notes: I’m going back to the ’80s with this bow-tie blazer. It has to be one of the easiest ways to look party-ready with just a pair of jeans, thanks to its statement shoulders and oversized bow. It’s quite fitted, so it’s not ideal if you want to wear something underneath.

Style Notes: I love a bit of colour-clashing, and a party-skirt–and-knit pairing lends itself well to this look. Zara’s sequinned midi hangs beautifully and comes in a rich shade of maroon and would look just as good with a black cami as it does with this slim-fit knit. 

Style Notes: Four words: Party suit of dreams. This is something for a seriously special occasion (and a seriously special budget). Close up, the embroidery is exceptional and the fit impeccable. I feel very Bianca Jagger. Now I just need something to wear it to.

Style Notes: As you can tell, I’m enjoying the high-low approach to party dressing this season. A Carrie Bradshaw–inspired tutu skirt suddenly feels very 2019 when styled with a slouchy knit and heels. Just be warned that the skirt is a tad see-through, so invest in a slip. 

Style Notes: Vampire’s Wife has to be one of my dream red carpet dresses (still waiting for that invite), and this season the brand has just created the most perfect disco mini. With statement sleeves, pussy-bow neckline (which is detachable) and thigh-grazing length, it feels very ’70s in the best way possible. Add tights and velvet platforms if you fancy a little more warmth. Also, note that the bust area is on the roomier side.

Style Notes: This is not something I’d expect to pick up, but there’s something about the short suit style that feels so much more high-end than a sequined minidress. The jacket is quite fitted, but you could probably fit a light blouse underneath. Also, the shorts are much stretchier than they look (always a plus in my book).

Style Notes: It’s slightly hard to see in the photo, but this beautiful Beulah dress comes in rich, navy velvet. It’s relatively simple, but therein lies its appeal—I think its fit-and-flare silhouette would look so good on all body shapes. My favourite part, however, has to be the trumpet sleeves.

Style Notes: I’m seeing so many power party suits on the high street right now, and as a tailoring fanatic, this makes me very happy. This & Other Stories pairing comes in crushed velvet, which feels quite ’80s, but I like the modern boxy silhouette and wide-leg trouser legs.

Style Notes: I have no words. Galvin is the king of slinky satin styles, and this halterneck number comes in a very A/W 19 shade of green. It’s much easier to wear than I’d expected thanks to its heavy fabric, which doesn’t cling too much. A chic option for a black-tie wedding or winter ball. 

Style Notes: From ball gowns to big sleeves. The mini length plus oversized sleeves are clearly a thing this season, and I think it makes a shorter length easier to attempt for those wanting to dip their toe into the trend. The high neckline also softens the power of the leopard-print finish.

Style Notes: I’ve had my eye on this blouse for months now, uncertain about whether it was too much of a flash-in-the-pan buy. However, I can confirm that even though it’s no longer all over Instagram, it’s still a real winner. Wear with jeans and heels or layer under a black shift for Audrey Hepburn–inspired style. 

Style Notes: You can’t do a party edit without sequins. Saloni is a great brand for eclectic party dresses, and this is one of my favourites. The longer length gives it a grown-up feel, but the low neckline feels suitably fancy. The quarter-length sleeves are also a good option for those wanting a little more coverage in that area. 

Style Notes: I told you big sleeves and mini lengths were a thing this season. High-street favourite & Other Stories is loving big shoulders right now, and you can’t get much bigger than this puffed sleeve showstopper. The fit is reasonably snug on the body, so maybe size up if you wanter a looser fit. 

Style Notes: If you don’t have a selection of nice-top–and-jeans outfits, are you even a real millennial? Valentino has delivered on the blouse front with this bow-tie look made from the lightest silk crepe de Chine fabric. It would also look lovely with a floaty midi skirt. 

Style Notes: So Zara’s sellout dress is back, and this time in a pretty gold finish. This is essentially a party version of the prairie dresses that were everywhere this summer. It’s one of those styles that would also look good styled casually with knee-high boots and a roll-neck jumper.

Style Notes: I was initially drawn to the simple cut of this minidress when I was in & Other Stories, but I also fell for the metallic finish the moment I put it on (it looks much more premium IRL). The fabric is relatively thin but doesn’t feel cheap. A great option for a work Christmas party. 

Style Notes: I’m going full-on Alexa Chung with this velvet minidress (although she would probably wear with pointed flats or brogues). Sadly the style is no longer online, but & Other Stories has plenty of similar dresses to sate your appetite. One of the best styles to pair with black tights. 

Up Next: I Tried On 50 High-Street Dresses to Work Out Which Ones Go With Boots

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