Fashion Forget party dresses – try the elegant mix and...

Forget party dresses – try the elegant mix and match

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Plus: Have a style dilemma? Ask Lisa about itbelow

Tempting as that 10ft-long wall of shelves and drawers complete with pull-out, rotating desk looks on that interior designer’s Insta feed, rather than installing it all at once, it’s wiser to work out the components you’ll actually use. Same with dressing-up looks.

I say this after years of ogling – and sometimes, I confess, actually buying – party dresses so fabulous you could only really wear them to, guess what, a party.

I don’t want those kinds of dresses any more. I don’t go to enough parties. Or rather I do, but I can’t keep wearing the same dress.

If you want clothes with more flex – if you need them to look as though their heart and soul is in party mode when required, but also to be able to back off a bit when you’re just going out to dinner, or popping round to a friend’s for a ‘come-as-you-are’ (does anyone ever really mean that?) supper – then separates are your friends.

Metallic blazer, £268,Reiss; Diamante necklace, £29,Mint Velvet

This is the year for them: there’s so much choice. Metallics, velvets, sequins, more metallics… and Serena Bute’s gorgeously low-effort, high-impact satin, high-waisted flares. You could wear them with a black or navy velvet shirt or cosy  jumper and still look glamorous.

Satin trousers, £295,Serena Bute; Leather bag, £95,Cos; Slingback shoes, £48,River Island

But perhaps you find the idea of mixing, matching, juxtaposing and all the other styling ‘-ings’ that come with separates overwhelming. Fret not. Wiggy Kit offers co-ords (skirts and semi-structured matching tops; some in brocade, others use recycled sequins) while Kipper Club has a three-piece gold suit. Suzannah London (she designed the Duchess of Edinburgh’s exquisitely embroidered Coronation robe) has an even more deluxe, softer gold version; Reiss 
a more affordable one.

You could swerve co-ords and put together your own look – making separates work becomes easier for parties somehow. Rules bend to the point of dissolving. The lighting’s probably going to be crepuscular anyway.

Lame blouse, £195,Wyse

Start with your top half, particularly if your plans mainly involve sitting. This could be the place for some iridescence – it casts a shimmery light on your face. Wyse London’s blouses are softly shaped, subtle and unfussy. Me+Em’s lurex Breton top whispers party rather than drunkenly slurring it. It could be endlessly useful and there are plenty of different iterations out there, from Marks & Spencer and Zara to Cefinn.

Metallic top, £125,ME+EM; Sequin skirt, £475,Wiggy Kit; Miracle Balm, £36,Jones Road

One twinkly piece could be enough: even one as small as a clutch or the Mint Velvet lariat. Wear it with with a low-cut cream silk blouse, some velvet or crêpe flares and those floppy bowed mules that are everywhere thanks to Loewe’s originals (check out & Other Stories’ black ones for £110; or for a shot of bright colour, see River Island’s £48 Manolo ‘tributes’).

Add dewy skin via Jones Road’s glorious Miracle Balms, in 10 buildable colours (the Au Naturel, with pearly under tones is a good natural) and you’re ready.  


Lisa wears: Lurex jumper, £150,Cefinn; Pleated skirt, £59.99,Mango; Patent leather shoes, £295,Me+Em; Crystal earrings, £170,Soru


Read the latest Ask Lisa: ‘I’m 66 with no waist to speak of – where can I find a flattering outfit for Christmas events?’


Lisa solves your style dilemmas

Each week, Telegraph Head of Fashion Lisa Armstrong responds to your queries, lending her expertise to help you shop smart. Have a question for her? Submit it below.

Lisa Armstrong – fashion dilemmas

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