I have a friend who has worn the same outfit to every party she has attended for the past 15 years – a little black dress and a tuxedo jacket – and I have only just noticed.
She is one of the most stylish women I know and, as far as she is concerned, she has found a look that never lets her down, so she sticks to it (this is something that she has never been able to say about any of the men she has been involved with, not so far anyway).
The reason that I (and everyone else) have taken so long to notice that she always wears LBD plus tux is that she is unfailingly canny at choosing and updating her perfect party basics so the pairing always looks fresh (she buys new ones every season, just to be clear – it’s not the same dress and jacket time after time). This season, she has been wearing a deep, rich, slightly sheeny navy (she’s bought a dress and a jacket in it, though the tux satin collar is black) and also a lace dress and a sequin dress, which looks fabulous under the tux. She accessorises to perfection, always less is more, but often one key piece, such as a bold sequin cuff, that draws the eye.
Occasionally, she adds a collar (she has them in black satin and navy and silver sequins), She loves shoes and boots, so she never wears just boring old black courts, although her footwear does tend to be black or grey/silver, but they might be embellished styles, strappy, platforms or sharp boots. She’s looking for a deep green tux.
In keeping it simple, she joins a long list of endlessly stylish women who, when in doubt, stick to what works for them. Coco Chanel, Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, Joan Collins, Victoria Beckham, Tilda Swinton – each has created a signature look, and they own it. They don’t slavishly follow fashion, but they never, ever look out of style, because they update their pieces to reflect current – and often forward – fashion thinking. The right lapel, the slight but perfect Sixties-inspired A-line skirt, the white shirt sleeve that billows to the sleeve imperceptibly but it’s there. All these details make a difference.
It’s important not to look too “done” this party season, so consider what you can dress down. Footwear, in particular. We can’t all get away with mannish flats, but if you can, try them with your LBD or lace tunic dress. Try a sequin top with relaxed, loose trousers, even luxe sporty styles, instead of a mini or pencil skirt. Alternatively, take a sequin pencil skirt and team it with a simple cashmere tee.
Most important of all, wear what feels comfortable and what you feel good in. And keep a steady flow of statement accessories. That way, you’re sure to enjoy the party, and no-one will notice if you wear the same basic outfit over and over again. Clever.