40 plus style, Alice's Wonders, Biba, Coast, Debenhams, fashion over 40, Hobbs, House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer, Next, over40fashion, Planet, Style blog, style blogger, style over 40, stylish 40s, stylish mum, TK Maxx, Tu at Sainsburys, Wallis, working mum
We’re hurtling towards Christmas and in the build up to ‘the big day’ there are plenty of opportunities for evenings out, Christmas work meals, Christmas parties etc. Personally, this time of year heralds a big conference in my work year which includes, this year, three evenings of social events (one formal, two less formal but still smart). I’ve also then got pre-Christmas meals out with friends and a works Christmas party to come. So, what to wear?!
First event is during conference week and it’s an awards dinner. It’s not completely formal, but fairly smart evening wear will be acceptable. I bought this gorgeous Marks and Spencer Per Una ‘Secret Slimming’ ruched velvet dress last year in a rich purple colour. It’s midi-length and looks great with these purple satin heels I already owned. I think this will be absolutely fab for an awards dinner.
Marks and Spencer are doing this dress again this year but in a Claret colourway this time. I tried it on a week or so and it really is so flattering that I was tempted to buy this colour too. The ‘secret slimming’ fabric really holds you in and flatters the shape. You can find it on the Marks and Spencer website right now!
Necklace: Past season from Coast. Find similar here
Shoes: Past season from Red Herring, Debenhams. Find similar here.
Black beaded clutch: Past season from Wallis.
Within my big conference week there is a black tie Gala Dinner evening which really does call for a bit of glamour! This event is annual and I have a fair few full-length/maxi dresses now for such occasions. This one from Biba at House of Fraser is a favourite and the one that I’ll probably wear for the Gala Dinner. It’s red and suits my colouring and is so easy to wear after a big dinner as it both pulls you in and has draping, but also is stretchy. There are no zips – it simply pulls on and off over your head!
I’ll paint my toe nails bright red and team the dress with these strappy silver sandals and minimal bling in the form of these earrings. The dress doesn’t need anything else!
So, then I’ve got an international networking dinner at the end of the same conference week and have a few options which will work for the dinner, but would equally work for the pre-Christmas meals I have coming up with friends.
This black Biba dress from House of Fraser is another easy to wear one (no zips, stretchy) and is flattering with a draped low neckline. I will wear this with my suede ankle boots from Wallis and the generously sized sequin and feather clutch that came from Next.
Black suede ankle boots: Past season from Wallis. Find similar here.
I also really enjoy wearing jumpsuits which are also easy to wear. Major tip is to go for something that doesn’t have loads of zips and buttons like this one from Autograph at Marks and Spencer (find similar here). If you’re drinking and desperately need the loo then you could get into a difficult situation in the ladies!
Tunic dress: Past season from Wallis. Find similar here.
This tunic dress from Wallis is great because of it’s simplicity and the ability to bling it up, but also because of the sheer fabric on the sleeves. If you’re like me – you might sometimes get a bit self-conscious about your arms. Sometimes I’m OK with them. Sometimes I’m not! Anyway, this disguises the arms and I would wear the ankle boots again with this. I love ‘dressy’ dresses with ankle boots. Looks a bit more edgy! I’ve just recently bought this gorgeous blingy collar necklace from Alice’s Wonders – which is so fantastic that you really need to go simple with the rest of your outfit.
This gorgeous necklace is from Alice’s Wonders. Find it here!
The next dress (below) is one I picked up in TK Maxx, but I’ve seen this flirty style replicated in quite a few shops. I wear this with or without the sequinned fine-knit cardigan from Next, the silver heeled sandals and a lovely vintage beaded purse that’s part of a vintage collection of mine.
My lovely vintage purse
Black velvet tux: Past season from Next. Find similar here.
Black silk top: Past season from Hobbs.
Black jacquard ankle-grazer trousers: Past season from Tu at Sainsburys.
And channelling some of the Yves Saint Laurent ‘Masculin-Feminin’ trend first started in the early 1960s I have my black velvet tuxedo jacket from Next which I like to wear with this black silk cowl neck top from Hobbs, and these black jacquard ankle grazer trousers from Sainsburys and my black suede ankle boots from Wallis. I wore this to an Embassador’s Reception a few years ago (I know, I know – I’m waiting for the Ferrero Rocher references from UK readers!!!) and a work client said it was a very ‘grown-up look’. Most women were wearing dresses.
Finally, for the work Xmas party last year I wore this blue glittery tunic (below) from Planet, which could be worn as a dress (although I think I’d wear opaque tights with it) or could be worn, as I did, with these blue velvet leggings from Marks and Spencer and heels. I like to wear something less formal, but still a bit sparkly as I’ve usually, by this point, had my fill of formal wear.
Are you looking forward to the Christmas party season? What are your ‘go to’ party outfits or are you planning to buy something new?!