To complete the trilogy which includes The Essential Work Wardrobe and The Essential Weekend Wardrobe, here is a list for the clothes that go beyond the day-to-day of life. This is the stuff you wear when you are partying it up!
Have to attend the office Holiday Party? A cousins’ engagement party? Your friends’ art show? Your parents anniversary dinner? Wear a cocktail dress. These dresses are designed to look good while you stand around chatting and making toasts. They should always be a bit modest and classy, but not formal. Think fun and show off your style. You cannot do without the versatile Little Black Dress, but also get a bright colour or pattern.
I don’t frequent clubs so much anymore, but bars are inescapable at any age. Going for a few drinks with friends is pretty much the only event on my social calendar. Get at least one dressy top that shows a bit of skin and wear it with dark jeans from your work wardrobe, or an additional pair of skinnies. Have a sexy skirt for more formal venues and when a girls-night-in turns into “Let’s go dancing!“. Alternatively, you could wear a scandalous dress. You get the most out of your wardrobe when your clubbin’ top goes well with both the skirt and the jeans.
I am a firm believer that every girl needs one gown taking up an inordinate amount of room in the back of her closet. And no, your prom or bridesmaid dress does NOT count. One day you will have to attend a formal event; a charity gala, a fancy New Years celebration, a formal wedding, or Captains’ Night on a cruise. You will know the event is fancy when the invitation looks like it costs more than all the ink in your printer. If you even get a hint of the words “black tie”, “white tie”, “ceremonial dress” or “formal” surrounding the event, you should be wearing a long gown. No doubt there will be a few silly girls who will dawn a cocktail dress on such occasions, but they will bring down the calibre of the event and the enjoyment of everyone. You don’t want to be a silly girl, you want to be Cinderella; elegant, classy, and beautiful. Relish in the special occasion that calls for such a dress, they don’t happen often so you might as well give it your all.
Because if this, you don’t need to have a gown wrapped up and ready to go at all times. These occasions are normally so rare that you are better off buying your dress when you get the invitation. By the next time a formal event comes around your dress is likely old-fashioned or (in my case) no longer fits; so buy a new one. Who cares? it’s been 8 years! This is actually a very small part of your clothing budget.
Some of your work pumps or weekend boots may be fine for pub nights, but you need a few pairs of shoes that are designated for more formal evening engagements. I recommend one black strappy heel and one metallic.
A Rite of Passage for every Canadian girl is to wait in line outside a club, in January, in the snow, in the middle of the night, wearing almost nothing on her feet. I’m not joking, I know more than one person who got frost-bitten toes this way … alcohol, while keeping you from feeling pain at the time, is not a good idea in the end. Even at 19 this was stupid, but now it would be unbearable .
When I do go out I wear heeled boots. Get a pair of black leather boots that go as high up your leg a you dare. My mother, of all people, calls these CFM boots. The C stands for come, and the M for me, I’ll let you figure out the rest. Wear these over skinny jeans or with your club skirt/dress but not your other dresses. Also a cute option are heeled booties. These keep tootsies warm while sort of looking like a shoe. A nice pair would look fine with even your cocktail dress.
You will have the best times of your life in your evening pieces. More pictures will be taken of you on special occasions than at any other time. Regardless if you a tradeswoman, an office drone, or a stay-at-home mom, when you go out at night you can shed the uniform of the day and transform yourself into whatever you want to be. Your evening wardrobe is the most personal, and most fun of your entire closet. Spend some time looking for the garments that make you look good and feel fanatic. When you are well dressed will have more confidence and have more fun.
Life is hard, when something happens that occasions a celebration, grab hold of it. Make the most of it. Celebrate the good parts of life in style.