Penny Goldstone

Fashion Editor at Marie Claire



The Classic Pieces to See You Through the Party Season

Where once party season was all about splurging on a fun piece only to discard it after ringing in the new year, things are different now as we try to curate a wardrobe full of intentional pieces. Pieces that we’ll not only want to wear again and again, but in a multitude of ways from casual to dressy, so they can work for any occasion, including winter weddings, office parties and more.


Karen Millen Penny Goldstone Sequin Dress
Liquid Sequin Woven Halter Dress

You can’t mention party season without mentioning sequins, but don’t be scared, there really is a plethora of ways to wear them, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. I actually think an all-over sequin dress is one that you’ll wear for party seasons to come, especially if you invest in a classic shape such as the slip dress.

However, I understand that’s a bit of a commitment if you’re more of a casual dresser, which is where separates come in handy. I love the 00s throwback vibe of a disc top with wide leg jeans and heels, or a white t-shirt with a sequin skirt works just as well. You can even wear them in the daytime, as long as you keep the rest of your outfit tame. Think a sequin jacket paired with leather joggers and trainers.


There’s a reason the little black dress, aka the LBD is so iconic. While it was originally created in the 1920s, it truly gained its legendary status in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In it, Audrey Hepburn parades around 5th Avenue in a simple black column dress. Fast forward a few decades, and it’s still the party dress you just can’t go wrong with, making it the ultimate investment.

Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist at heart, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more versatile frock than the LBD. Fans of Audrey can emulate her style by opting for a strapless midi dress or a high neck maxi, given a modern makeover thanks to luxe details such as crystal embellishments (a fun nod to the Holly Golightly’s love of diamonds), feathers, velvet and corset bodices. Just because it’s a classic choice doesn’t mean it’s boring, on the contrary, you can have lots of fun with it. Think 20s style pearl-encrusted minis, dramatic maxis with lace cut-outs and plenty of sequins.

Cocktail Dresses

At first, a cocktail dress was suitable for semi-formal occasions such as pre-dinner cocktails and was traditionally midi length or shorter, though you can of course bend the rules a little now. Cocktail dresses still work for those rare events that fall between casual affairs (say, drinks at the pub) and formal ones (like a black tie party or wedding).

Those being less frequent, you’d understandably be reluctant to part with your hard-earned cash for a dress you’ll only wear a handful of times at best. So the key is to find a style that is versatile enough that you can dress it up or down if necessary, no matter the occasion. Do play around with prints and colour. You can definitely rewear a leopard print dress for a night out, and a red chiffon dress will be great for Christmas eve parties and winter weddings.

Leather Trousers

Don’t make the mistake of thinking dresses are the only way forward come party season. Dressy trousers are just as hard working, if not more, and there’s no better example than leather trousers. In fact, they’re the perfect day-to-night item. Style them with an oversized knit and chunky boots for a casual office look or a pub lunch. For evening drinks, swap the boots for heels and the jumper for a silky shirt and a blazer - or, if you’re feeling daring, a sequin or skin tight tank top (bra optional). there’s a style to suit everyone this season.

You can’t go wrong with a classic skinny cut, or a 90s-inspired straight leg style. For party season, Karen Millen also has some fun feather-trimmed colourful leather trousers you are guaranteed to party the night away in.

Party Tailoring

I’m a firm believer that every woman should own a suit, as it’s one of the most versatile items you can own. For a contemporary feel, do go oversized, but for something a little more classic, you won’t go wrong with a slimline tuxedo - there’s a reason ‘le smoking’ is so iconic.

There are dozens of ways you can style a suit this party season and beyond, whether you’re wearing the full look or not. Jazz up an otherwise tame straight leg trouser and double breasted blazer combo with a daring bandeau top. Make a statement with a printed two-piece, and play around with proportions. I love a big jacket worn over a mini skirt or tailored shorts.


Jumpsuits often get overlooked in favour of dresses for party season, and what a shame that is, because believe me, they bring just as much drama. You just have to look at Karen Millen’s latest offering to understand where I’m coming from. Lace inserts, feathers, capes, beads and crystals, they have it all. Just throw one on and you’re ready to go, no accessories needed.

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