No matter the lessening light or the shortened days, party season never ends… In fact, for many of us, November signals the start of the holiday season, which means we all need our party-wear ready. For years I managed with only two party dresses in my closet, a linen sleeveless shift for summer festivities and a merino wool mini for winter gatherings, both black of course. But somewhere along the line this section expanded until I realized party-wear was taking over my closet; it might not come as a surprise that the more sparkle I collect, the better I feel in my wardrobe.
So, what constitutes “party-wear”? This is different for each of us, but for me there must be a bit of shimmer and flare, something costume-like, because this garb must transport me from my ready-wear, my mundane and ordinary, into the glam-queen of my dreams. A bit too Cinderella? I get that; but seriously, when I don something sequined and jeweled or pleated and pink, there is no me doing dishes or taking out the trash, no me headed to work in the early dark dawn, no me thinking about what I have to do, instead it is all about what I want to do… Glass slipper and all, my dreams feel in reach in the right dress.
Designers know this. Since the Parisian House of Worth in 1860 first combined fashion with business, and brilliantly sewed a brand tag in their glass-bead and French-lace gowns, haute couture of the fashion houses has dominated our imagination. From Coco Chanel of the Roaring Twenties until Karl Lagerfeld, Oscar de la Renta to Alexander McQueen, we’ve had gala-wear to dance in with our friends until the wee hours where night collides with day.
Celebrations demand pagentry. Givenchy’s 2011 Spring line certainly pushes this concept even further with their all Asian models and Japanese influence show, shifting from black into pastel and flowing fabric, to ignite our imagination into magic. And who could resist a crane-inspired headdress? There is something regal and daring in these looks.
Silk. Velvet. Grosgrain. Crepe. Taffeta. Moire. Organza. Slip into any of these sumptuous fabrics, and you will make merry. Adorned with beads, feathers, faux-fur, or embroidery, and you will most certainly get the party started…
Top designers and haute couture aside, most of us look for more realistic party wear; however, I suggest you let yourself dream a bit; see that shiny scarf or satin top in your favorite retail shop — imagine yourself lighting up your next gathering when you walk in wearing it! Be bold in your color and fabric choice. Daring with your hemline. Try digging into that pile of costume jewelry and find a few over-the-top broaches your Nana wore and pin three to a short black wrap. End by twisting your hair into an up-do to add elegance.
My last advice, before we are inundated by holiday editions of everything from Vogue to Lucky, decide for yourself what says party, what makes you feel like staying at the ball past midnight; your new found glamour just might make the evening all the more memorable!
** This post is dedicated to my daughter, marnika, who not only is a stylist in Los Angeles, but is the reason I have so many party dresses! She is also an unique artist, presently selling her artwork at The Edit in Chicago.