Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Fashion notes: Remove the drama from party season

It’s brewing – that pesky time of year they call party season. A month of competitive little black dresses and mass anxiety. A simple frock that causes as much consideration and deliberation as it does irrational fear.

Almost as bad as wearing a party dress is shopping for one – no other garment, aside from the bikini, is as brutal for one’s self-esteem. It doesn’t help that all around us it seems everyone else has it sorted. Oh how much fun is being had. Everyone is ecstatic, apart from us.

For many of us, shopping is a solitary hobby. We get frightened by all of the extra pressure and fuss of an occasion. There’s nothing quite like a perky sales assistant, keen as a Labrador, craning her neck over the changing-room door, armed with some “extra vampy numbers” and “cut-throat honesty” to induce a sweat while you’re shopping.

It’s our quest for perfection that causes such failings of epic proportion. As creatures of habit, we tend to stick to what we know – a ­safety-in-numbers game.

You know the drill. I can’t wear above the knee. Isn’t mid-thigh past my sell-by date? Is showing cleavage more than a little passé?

We set so many boundaries that we end up eradicating most of the dresses on the market. Which is a crying shame, for there’s always a chance to branch out. We simply need to arrive armed with a little ­ammunition.

Start by staying clear of the “frock of the season” – most of these are simply clever marketing ploys that cash in on our conceived insecurities. Not to mention that the chances of somebody else turning up to your big event in the same “big hitter” is high.

Masculine tailoring will work a charm if you don’t “do” dresses or you’re not normally partial to a few sparkles. Think slim, fitted cigarette trousers and an elegant chiffon top, and use accessories to create a talking point instead. Splash out on one big-ticket item, such as a chunky bright piece made from mixed metals or coloured glass.

When it comes to body shape, know what works. For those with a rounder middle to hide, a wrap dress will give the illusion of a waist, while a cut from under the bust will draw attention away from the stomach. For those with the dreaded pear shape (bottom heavy), a strapless dress with a nipped waist and flared skirt will help draw the eye away from the hip area.

A boyish shape is often harder to dress for occasion wear – although it benefits from being athletic and slender, the lack of bust, waist and hips can appear masculine. To feminise the overall aesthetic, create an illusion of volume with the likes of pleats, ruffles or bows. A cowl neckline will give the illusion of a bigger bust; a heavy necklace will detract from a smaller bust.

Think of all of this as a cheerful extension of your wardrobe rather than a one-off. It’s important to feel like yourself, rather than a “zipped-up” version of yourself who looks wholly uncomfortable about the situation.

Lastly, try not to be dictated by the term “party dress”; after all, it’s only another December and a few celebrations. Nothing that we haven’t done ­before.

Updated: November 13, 2014 04:00 AM

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