Liberate your partywear

— by Alyson Walsh

Archive Casual Glamour photo: Claire Pepper

After a couple of weeks in lockdown, I’m feeling that Working From Home needs livening up a bit. And it’s not as if there’s a shortage of time in which to experiment with old wardrobe favourites and a few new styling tricks. Particularly when your office is your spare room, and your closet is right behind you. While I’ll always enjoy my utilitarian, faff-free garb (new post on jumpsuits coming soon), adding a vintage beaded top, metallic shoes or some knockout jewellery is making me feel more cheerful. Blending bling with more normcore pieces – a gold lamé top with cargo pants, a sequinned sweatshirt and wide leg trousers – combining effortless basics with one look-at-me standout piece is what I call Casual Glamour (a phenomenon I wrote about in my first book Style Forever). ‘ Some items of clothing do have a sentimental association but these are special and rare, others reduce uncertainty because you know you’ll feel good in them,’ explains fashion psychologist Carolyn Mair over the phone, when I ask why liberating your partywear sparks joy, ‘ It’s a “feeling of knowing”, a sensation we have. This is not any old sequinned top, it’s uplifting, you know you’ll feel good in it and that’s what you want.’

As a 1939 Vogue feature advised, ‘ There’s immense chic in restrained evening elegance. There’s immense charm in the robustness and shrewd common sense of day clothes.’ Put the two together and kerpow! While this is hardly Fashion on the Ration, by wearing existing clothes and opting for Dressed Up Daywear we are making do and acting sustainably. During the Second World War, as well as working in the forces and volunteering, women were also expected to keep cheerful, ‘Keep smiling through’ as Vera Lynn sang, and keep up appearances. Until, we meet again…When materials became scarce women became resourceful. Dressmaking and knitting took off, clothes were constructed from furnishing fabric and blackout material, seams drawn on back of legs to give the illusion of stockings and in France women up-cycled old garments to create ‘ la robe a mille morceaux’ (the dress of a thousand pieces).

In a recent essay entitled If You Love Fashion, You Don’t Stop Loving It in the Face of Adversity,’ contributing editor of American Vogue, Lyn Yaeger describes throwing a small, socially distanced birthday party for a friend in Washington Park (before lockdown), ‘I was clad in layers of tulle and my beloved new Simone Rocha coat, and I admit I was insanely overdressed—the only other person I saw in a tutu was a three-year-old on a scooter. But the truth is, I am always insanely overdressed—so why would I stop now?’

Combine metallics and military

Over on Man Repeller, founder Leandra Cohen has coined the hashtag #goingnowherebutfuckitimgettingdressed and others are embracing #dressupfriday by wearing frocks on Instagram. Hats weren’t rationed during WW2, simple styles were decorated with feathers and ribbons and seen as a fantastic way to uplift a ‘make do’ outfit. Over at Style Crone, Judith has a wonderful selection of vintage hats (have a look, there’s an entire room full); beautifully pairing headgear with vintage clothes is an approach she calls ‘Scintillating Sustainability’. Dresses aren’t really my thing ( neither are beach shorts, socks and hotel slippers) and I have two types of hat: knitted beanie in winter, bleached canvas sun hat in summer. But I do have a glittering pile of Lurex knits, a plethora of vintage party tops and a couple of pairs of fancy pants. As someone who has always preferred a more Casual kind of Glamour  – I’m enjoying blending day and eveningwear, military with metallics, bringing on the bling.

‘You should only wear one nice piece of clothing at a time, otherwise it’s too much. Too dressed,’ Larry David told GQ magazine, ‘You have to be half-dressed. That’s my fashion theory, since you asked: Half Is More.’  And lockdown is as good a time as any to raid the party drawer and introduce a little everyday embellishment. Even if it is a pair of Lurex socks with my Birkenstocks. I propose we put on our glad rags and whoop things up a bit. This week, I’m going to liberate my partywear and I’d love it if you could join me. Tag your outfits on social media #liberateyourpartywear. Let’s bring back Casual Glamour and get half-dressed.




While I would always encourage everyone to make use of what they already own, and I do plan to write a post on shopping online in a crisis ( just need time to research this, first), here are some glittering metallics that have caught my eye:

*Please note affiliate links in this post may generate a commission. 

Keep Reading

Five uplifting ways to keep mind and body active during quarantine

After a couple of weeks in lockdown, I’m feeling that Working From Home needs livening up a bit. And it’s not as if there’s a shortage of time in which to experiment with old wardrob…