Style by Claire Lopez

Time to address the elephant in the season: Occasion-wear

I cannot bury my head in the sand any longer because it is that time of year when the event calendar is full up and for once so is mine. This year I might as well be an extra in the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral because that is how many nuptials I am attending, three of them in four weekends no less. So try as I might, I cannot avoid dealing with the burning issue (no it isn’t Brexit or the Mayoral Election): what occasion-wear to go for now that the event season is upon us?

Normally I head to Reiss and find something, but that something is expensive and ends up being worn on a handful of occasions. I could just about justify doing that for one frock were it not for the fact that two of them are family weddings with the same guest list, necessitating two options for my ‘season’. Ok necessity it may not be, but most females would want to wear something different if they were in my shoes.

So here is my guide to sensible occasion-wear shopping for ’tis the season to get wed, go to Ascot and all that other eventy, ‘do’ type stuff.

Avoid prints as these date much more quickly than plains. Go for something that is versatile.

Hmmm, easy to say but what is versatile? Navy is for a start and here’s why:

  1. It will work in the sun and the rain so you don’t have to worry that you look like a tangerine or lemon in the middle of a hailstorm.
  2. Even better, it will work year round. So if you are thinking of splashing out, do it on something you can rock a Christmas party in too.
  3. Far from being a boring choice, navy is a blank canvas that you can bring to life with some bright or interesting accessories that will ring the seasonal changes.
  4. Navy is not black so there is no wedding etiquette issue here.

Whistles has a number of styles that tick this box. Not cheap but your cost per wear should be favourable.

This Sammy Dress £150 is a definite contender. Think black accessories for an understated and classic evening look or add some animal, metallic or bright colour (basically any will work) but not all at once.


Another option is the Contrast Font Split dress £160. The splash of pink is enough to say SS16 but not so much that you wouldn’t be able to wear this classic style from year to year.


Now navy and lace scores a double whammy in the styles versatility stakes: Clementine Peplum Lace Dress £195.


Self Portrait has done a great job in making lace desirable, but you don’t have to pay quite the hundreds of pounds with Whistle’s version and its Amelia Lace Dress £220. She must be a foot taller than me because hitting my ankle, I looked a bit like a walking lace curtain. Great for willowy types.


Reiss also has this Missie Lace Fit and Flare Dress £195 which is lovely, if a touch on the short side so not great if you are tall or are tall but aren’t in your twenties anymore. Better if you are on the shorter end of the spectrum.


Although you often do get what you pay for, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great frock.

When I started thinking about this blog, after a conversation with a friend, it really struck home that it is a bit of a nonsense to spend so much on something you wear so little. So here are some options for under £100.

I have blogged about this dress before and I am doing it again because it feels like the one that got away (from me at least as stock is limited) Stripe Top Pleated Dress £65. It is a fashionable option with the stripes and the pleated skirt but at £65 it is not going to break the bank and you could also dress this down for holidays too.


I have found a couple of dresses from Warehouse over the years that tick the event box and this Linear Prom Dress £79 is one such option. This season, the good old prom looks fresh thanks to a fashionable midi length.


If you are going for a bright colour which you won’t get a huge amount of wear from then this Short Sleeve Panel Lace Dress £65 is perfect and again another one you could pack in your suitcase for sunnier climes. Word of warning: if you are tall, this dress will be too short. They are perfect for a midget like me, but leggy beauties beware knicker flashing.


If navy floats your boat but the price tags seem too steep then Warehouse again comes up trumps with this Lace Pleated Midi Dress £85. Ignore the footwear. Not right at all.


Think outside the traditional box. You don’t have to wear a dress, instead go for a jumpsuit or a skirt and top.

Now I appreciate a jumpsuit will not be suitable for all occasions where strict dress codes apply, but it is modern alternative to a dress that can work very well. Reiss has this Ray Strapless Jumpsuit £225 which is lovely.


If your arms are not quite as sculpted then Karen Millen’s Crepe Jumpsuit £235 will offer more bingo coverage. Sorry about the bad photo – from their site based on an image of the jumpsuit in Marie-Claire so not great quality.


On to skirts and this season a pleated number is top of the trend list. Topshop has this Satin Pleat Midi Skirt £45.


ASOS also has this Pleated Midi Skirt £30.


Now I am not for one minute suggesting you wear these with a crop top (although if I had abs like that then maybe I would) but team this with a nice cami or woven t-shirt such as this Double Strap V Front Cami £16 from Topshop.


Or this Silk Vest £55 Hush.[1]

Or this Sophie Top from Hush £45. All worn tucked in and much more suitable than what is essentially a bra.[1]

And finally don’t spend a fortune if you think you aren’t going to wear it again, instead buy a new pair of shoes or bag for an old outfit.

A metallic pair of block heels would most certainly bring your outfit band up to date and these Jamila Sandals from Dune £80 are lovely. Plus the block heel is better on grass and the dancefloor.


Alternatively get your fix of brightness with a pop of colour in a shoe or bag. The Abigail from Dune £65 is a good heel height – not too high.


New Look also does a similar pair for £19.99 which also come in pink.


For an electric blue Jones has its Cecilia Court Shoe now £62. All these would work just as well with jeans making them a versatile purchase.


On the bag front, Accessorize has a good metallic Leather Zip Top Clutch £20. This also comes in rose gold and would work just as well at Ascot as the pub or on holiday.


Whistles has this Orange Foldover Zip Clutch £95.


A word on accessories, don’t go matchy matchy. Not cool. But all these options would serve you well beyond the short-lived world of Pimms and strawberries.

So this season I am not going to fall into the occasion-wear one trick pony trap…promise.

Just read one of the invites – I need a hat. Oh lord. That was not on the agenda.



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