Party season is almost upon us, but for many women the excitement of Christmas parties is overshadowed by that all-too-familiar sense of doom that comes with finding the perfect outfit.
With dress codes more relaxed than ever, there’s a fine line between smart casual and overdressed – and it’s all too easy to feel you’ve made a hideous error of judgement with your chosen ensemble.
Hemlines, colours, necklines and materials are just some of the factors women spend hours agonising over; in fact research suggestions shoppers will scroll through anywhere between 800 and 2,000 dresses in a bid to locate ‘the one’.
Women scroll through thousands of different outfits in quest to find their perfect party dress – with many of us feeling the pressure to wear different outfits thanks to social media
Most of us will visit up to 10 different retailers in our quest to find the perfect party dress with many of us returning up to five dresses that didn’t make the cut.
And it seems it’s all down to our social media habits, according to the study by Dororthy Perkins who have recently launched a ‘Dress to Party’ hub – with tagged photos on Facebook meaning we’re under more pressure than ever to have a different outfit for each occasion.
FEMAIL spoke to buying director and fashion expert Charlotte Pettican, to find out how to avoid a Christmas outfit casualty this festive season.
1. Never forget where you come from
When it comes to buying a party dress its always tempting to buy something you’ll never wear again. Don’t ditch your usual style by going for something you’ll only wear once. Buy a dress that will suit your shape and in a colour that you know works for you. Your style is yours alone, it’s what makes you, you! Don’t forget that just because it’s party season – go with your gut.
2. Don’t be led astray by trends
Try not to be overly led by the party trends; if you don’t love velvet or sequins, you don’t need these on your dress to show off your Christmas spirit. A classic style will last a lifetime and you’ve got to consider your cost per wear! You can get a classic dress down to mere pennies by wearing it to a couple of events, but a trendy sequin piece might actually end up costing you a lot more if you only wear it once and it festers in your wardrobe for the next year.
3. You’re the boss
Don’t think you need to always bare all just because it’s the party season. If you feel more comfortable wearing a long-sleeved dress, wear one! The biggest mistake we’re all guilty of making is buying a dress that we think in
‘Your style is yours alone’: Charlotte stresses it’s important to wear a dress that suits you rather than being ‘overly led’ by the latest party trends – and to bear the party venue in mind
4. Look for inspiration
With Instagram and Pinterest readily available in your pocket at all times, inspiration is all around you. Get a feel for the looks you like, follow celebrities who’s style you admire, pin, re-pin, re-gram and create your very own inspiration section in your phone that you can refer to whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.
5. Stick to what you know
Stick to the high street stores you know and love; it will make your shopping experience less stressful and you’ll be less likely to buy a dress that you’ll never wear again. There’s a reason you’ve shopped there in the past; if it’s worked before, have faith it will work again!
6. Sometimes you have to let things go
If you find a dress that you fall in love with and it’s not in your size, let it go. As heartbreaking as it is, it’s better to buy a dress that is comfortable otherwise it’s always going to be a disappointment.
7. Consider the venue
Consider whether you’re going to be sat down, stood up or dancing – your dress is going to need to adapt to the situation and keep you comfortable. If you’re wearing a mini when sat down at a dinner table all night, and you’re constantly having to pull it down, it’s going to kill your party spirit! The same applies if you’re planning on twirling on the dance floor – you’re going to want something to flow in.
‘The pressure to find the perfect party dress can be overwhelming,’ Charlotte warns. ‘The desire for that head-turning moment can eclipse everything – so try not to stress’
8. Too many cooks
We all love shopping with the girls – but the more people you go shopping with, the more opinions you never asked for. Buying a dress is a personal experience and the decision ultimately lies with you, as you’re the only person who’s going to be wearing it! If you want an unbiased opinion ask the staff in the store you’re in – they’ve seen and heard it all and will point you in the right direction if you need it.
9. Stop looking
Once you’ve found the one you want, stop looking. Don’t do it to yourself. In today’s market there’s so much choice there will always be the next best thing so don’t torture yourself over the wrong thing – instead, go find the shoes and bag to go with the dress you know you like already.
10. Take it easy on yourself
The pressure to find the perfect party dress can be overwhelming. The desire for that head-turning moment can eclipse everything and when you’re not finding what you’re looking for things can quickly turn into a stress. Slow down, take a step back, and remind yourself that this is supposed to be fun.