Now that you've seen a few of my dream party dresses and accessories from this season's selection, I thought I'd show you some from my own archive. I love a new dress as much as the next girl (and styling down sequins with a sweater for day as much as the next blogger), but always think it's sad that "special occasion" items that don't lend themselves to being re-styled for other circumstances tend to be relegated to the back of the wardrobe after one or two outings, never to be seen again. So, I decided to honour my collection of frock-stars by digging them out and documenting them for posterity...
N.B. If you hang onto your party dresses long enough, a rummage in the back of your closet becomes analogous to a whole new (free) outfit drop courtesy of Santa - I thought I kept a close eye on my wardrobe contents with my bi-yearly re-organisations, but was amazed to find, amongst all the old familiars, an unworn dress which I'd completely forgotten about, but instantaneously fell back in lust with! Allow me to introduce you to some of my past and eternal loves...
Top Row (L-R):
1. Moulin NoirDress and Boots: Primark; Belt: ASOS
Worn: Out for dinner, 2010 and 2011 - A classic corset-satin pencil skirt combo in one handy package; I love the subtle tulip shaping at the hips.
2. Sweet Like CandyDress: H&M; Belt: Primark; Shoes: M&S
Worn: On my birthday, September 2010 - The spoils of my Oxford Street birthday shopping dash with mum; I remember looking in the mirror before I went out in the evening and thinking that, after 20 years, I'd managed to achieve my number one dream aged 5 - to become a human Barbie (I had platinum blonde hair and a doll fringe at the time!)
3. Baby's First Cut-Out FrockDress: River Island; Boots: Peacocks
Worn: Christmas 2011 - One of mum's finds on another present-hunting shopathon; Alesha Dixon wore this on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel about a week later.
4. Marilyn MomentDress: Freemans; Shoes: New Look
Worn: November 2007 - To my dad's 50th birthday party on a Thames riverboat (not quite as genteel as it sounds, or as I looked at the beginning of the day!) - Along with dresses 5 and 10, this was ordered from a catalogue in response to a severe craving for classic vintage-style cuts, before they really hit the mainstream.
Middle Row (L-R)
5. Marilyn Goes to PromDress: Freemans; Shoes: New Look.
Worn: University Ball, Summer 2007 - I'd been starved of '50s shapes my entire life, how was I to choose between pencil and prom?
6. Back to the FutureDress: H&M; Shoes: Primark; Hair Band: New Look
Worn: To an afterparty after a dancing gig, Spring 2010 - Chosen by mum and purchased alongside dress 2; I can't resist playing up the exaggerated '80s style shaping with a fun bow hair band.
7. Red VelvetDress: Primark; Shoes: New Look
Worn: Valentine's Day 2011 - Unbelievable attention to detail and finish for under £30 - anyone who persists under the delusion that everything Primark sells is of inferior quality is invited to come and inspect this dress! Velvet and chiffon combined to perfection.
8. Greek OdysseyDress, Belt and Shoes: Primark
Bought in 2011, but not yet worn - its time in the limelight is nigh... Classic Grecian goddess - everyone should have a glamorous toga in their bag of tricks!
Bottom Row (L-R)
9. Where Did You Come From?Dress: Jane Norman; Shoes: Primark
Bought in the 2010 January Sales, and promptly and unaccountably forgotten! It was worth the 3 hour photoshoot and 2 hours of collage construction that went into the making of this post just to rediscover this beauty. Loving the bandage/sheer panel combination...
10. An Early Call For My First MidiDress: Morgan; Shoes: New Look
Worn: University Ball, 2006/07 - Back in my student days, when I deemed a bottle of wine an acceptable (and prudent) single drink order, hence my lack of recollection regarding the exact year!
11. Flapping Up A StormDress and Shoes: New Look
Bought online at the same time as dress 9, when I had the time to spend the first 2 hours of every day scouring the web for special offers and "must-haves" (those were the days...) but never worn, until this week, when I had the presence of mind to layer it over a fringed skirt to add a few inches of much needed length! Layers of fringing on a bodycon base render flapper chic hourglass-appropriate. Working a "faux bob" for added '20s flavour!
12. Keeping Up With The KardashiansDress: American Apparel; Shoes: New Look
Worn: Halloween 2008 - This is the American Apparel bandeau pencil dress - you can play around with the straps to give it about 76 different looks!
I'd Also Like To Thank...
A feature on party dresses wouldn't be complete without a nod to my previously featured lovelies (click to peek)...
The velvet bodycon maxi (with a special mention to the embellished cape which ices it oh so perfectly)
The bodycon mini/sheer maxi dress
I'll be showing you a few of my favourite alternatives to the classic party dress over the next couple of weeks... Will you be going classic or edgy this year?