Life & Culture

Add some sparkle to go back to the ’80s

It's party time, and you need to think retro and shiny


The party season is upon us, peaking at Chanucah, which starts on December 22. And, of course, we all want to look super glam.

So, what to wear? The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to buy anything new. Though we won’t stop you buying a sparkly new frock if you wish to…

And “sparkly,” of course, is the mot juste because right now we’re in a dazzling — quite literally —rehash of the 1980s. So, think shoulder pads and yet another revival of the mini, plus dresses, tops and trousers, boots, shoes and bags, lavished with crystals, sequins and shimmer.

If you want a sparkly dress, there are plenty at all price points. If you’re self conscious, it could be worth buying a size larger to avoid any hint of cling, and considering more muted shades such as a shapely lurex midi in forest green by Sies Marjan (£1,100) at Net-a-Porter or a black dress with a dash of sparkle and a V-back that’s not so low you can’t wear a bra (the Eira, £189, Hobbs).

Similarly muted is a black off-the-shoulder midi with a smattering of glitter at Wallis (£48) while, for restrained shimmer, it would be hard to beat the body-con midi in sparkly jersey (£39.50) from M&S (also available in petite).

The “Odile”, a stripey sequin wrap midi (£225) from French online label Kitri; a zig-zag metallic wrap midi-dress (£79) from Debenhams; and a shimmering midi dress with cut-out back at Next (£75) all deliver high-voltage glamour in a flattering cut and length.

At Zara, sparkly dresses include a black velvet midi with a touch of shimmer (£49.99) and a black midi shirt dress with gold embroidery (£59.99).

Separates also work, and flatter if you opt for sequins/shimmer for the area you are happy to spotlight, paired with dark, matte fabric for the bits you prefer to minimise.

Leggings are one of the season’s hottest trends — yes, really. They join tailored, wide-leg trousers, black jeans, and midi skirts (pencil or knife-pleated) as perfect partners for lavishly embellished top-halves, such as a gold tulle and sequin blazer by Alice & Olivia (£610 exclusively at Net-a-Porter) or a sequined V-neck top by John Lewis, £59.

Other shimmering tops perfect to pair with low-key bottom halves include a plissé-lamé pussy-bow blouse by The Vampire’s Wife (£795 and a round-neck, long-sleeve sheer top in white with silver-sequins, £29.99 at Zara.

M&S has an unexpected number of covetable sparkly tops, including a long-sleeve, sequin-lavished one in black (£35) which would partner perfectly with black denim (or, indeed, any denim), while their slouchy metallic, short-sleeve V-neck sweater (£22.50), provides a hit of restrained glamour. Also on the High Street, Next has a super-glam sequin tee available in six colours at £20. (The trick is to buy it bigger than you need so it looks slouchy).

A stunning over-the-knee, black sequin pencil skirt by John Lewis & Partners (£89); a pink sequin midi pencil skirt by Raey (£325, Matches); an A-line midi with diagonal sequin-stripes by Phase Eight (£125); a sequin-encrusted midi pencil skirt at Zara (£29.99) and a sequin-and-jacquard midi pencil skirt, (£55) by M&S Autograph are all perfect to pair with a plain/dark jumper, top or jacket that you probably already own.

Other fabulous party-wear trends abound despite the ubiquity of sequins and shimmer. They include luxe fabrics (satin, jacquard and velvet); jumpsuits; knife-pleat midi-skirts; lace; feathers; tuxedos and trouser suits (especially if crafted in velvet). All these trends are widely available. The best cocktail frocks with feathers (at least, the best for any woman over 40) are by Gina Bacconi (from £190).

The tuxedo is an after-dark classic and this year’s crop includes a double-breasted wool version by Isabel Marant (£860, Matches), a sassy, wide-lapel version with 1930s vibe from M&S’s Autograph range (£99) and two shapely, sharply-elegant tuxedos from John Lewis’s own-brand collections (by Modern Rarity, £165 and by John Lewis & Partners, £120).

If you buy one this winter and you’ll still look perfectly on trend for several winters to come.

Indeed, you will doubtless have spotted that most of these trends have been around for several seasons and you probably own at least one of them.

If so, no need to shop as you’ll look perfectly on-trend rocking any one of them at any seasonal celebrations.

Unless, of course, your destination is the Hello or Vogue festive bash, in which case you need to go shopping now.

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