The Fashion Folder: Party Ready

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By Roxy L. Rowton

Many of us don’t give much attention to special-occasion dressing in our wardrobes because our day-to-day style rotates around work wear, off-duty clothes and the sometimes dressy dinner attire. We don’t think we need special-occasion clothing, so we don’t stock our wardrobes with it. When a special-occasion arises out of nowhere and we need party-ready attire, it isn’t hanging in the closet. Perhaps, to tackle the special-occasion quandary, we need a new approach. If we yearn to mitigate the panic and conundrum of needing a party-ready garment on short notice, maybe we should consider tackling the unexpected before it arises.

Finding a solution to the special-occasion quandary requires allotting a section of your wardrobe to party-ready attire. An evening gown probably isn’t necessary for the majority of us, but assembling a few dressy essentials that can be worn for multiple occasions and accessorized in a variety of ways will make it a little more trouble-free to reply yes to those holiday RSVPs. Here are some tips to get you started.

Don’t depart from personal sartorial tastes. Dressing for party-ready or special-occasion shouldn’t lead to a departure from our personal style and sartorial preferences. Party and special-occasion clothing should reflect the same day-to-day styles we enjoy the rest of the time. Only these garments let us dress in a more ornate and embellished version of ourselves.

If your sartorial preferences lend to soft, fluid fabrics and feminine dresses and skirts, then that’s where you should begin. If your sartorial preferences are ease of movement, simple and uncontrived tones and trousers with flats, start there. We have to amplify our sartorial and style preferences into a dressed-up version of us to be holiday party-ready.

Consider the cost of special-occasion garments as a form of amortization. Special-occasion and formal wear are an investment in you and your wardrobe. Yes, party-ready garments can have substantial price tags and  cost more than much of our day-to-day wear. However, an essential dress-up purchase of quality, workmanship, and fit is a form of amortization. These essential dress-up garments can stand out from party to party and dazzle for every holiday festivity. We’ll discover our special-occasion garments are worth the price tag in time, sensibility and finances, and the actual cost per wear decreases season after season.

Assemble a small capsule of special-occasion garments. Don’t purchase for a specific holiday event. Frequently, we get caught up in a mindset of making a party-ready purchase when there is a specific event. We overlook assembling a small assortment of special-occasion garments while we’re shopping for our seasonal day-to-day wear. This kind of mindset leaves our wardrobe bankrupt of party-ready garments for the times we need to dress up. More than likely, we will not need a lot of formal garments, but rather a few dressy pieces stored in the closet to help us be party-ready at a moment’s notice. Whenever it is possible, don’t leave special-occasion shopping until you need it. Instead assemble a small capsule of your ideal special-occasion and party-ready garments prior to specific events.

This time of the year practically demands that we dress up. It is not unlikely this holiday season that we’ll receive at least one invitation to a special event that will call for a fancy dress or fabulous something. The easiest way to circumvent the plight of “whatever shall I wear” is to be prepped and ready to go. Don’t be intimidated trying to find the ideal special-occasion garment; no need for waffling guesses or a spiral of indecision.

Let’s accept that our wardrobe needs some special-occasion items and keep an eye out to assemble our party-ready garments before that holiday festivity comes calling.

Wardrobe and style consultant Roxy L. Rowton ( spends much of her workweek in the closet or the fitting room helping women look and feel their best. She has two-plus decades in the fashion, apparel and beauty industries. 


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