Casual Glamour: what to wear for a relaxed summer event

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper

“The ticket says ‘dress glamorous,'” came the text message from my friend about a red carpet event in London. At the last-minute, I’d been drafted in to take her twin teenage daughters to the premiere of Oceans 8 (terrible film, don’t bother). I know what you’re thinking – a red carpet event is hardly relaxed but with no time to waste, I opted for Casual Glamour. Confidence comes from feeling comfortable and feeling like yourself, and for me, that often means a low-key approach to dressing up. In London, particularly for after-work events, there is a tendency to underdress rather than go overboard. Besides, I was never going to turn up, on public transport, in a floor-length gown. Casual Glamour worked for the twins, too. Their supercool tomboy style garnered compliments from fellow guests as we swanned down the red carpet trying not to loose our cool when Helen Bonham Carter and her mum showed up. None of us had stepped out of our comfort zone.

Teenage Tomboy Chic on the red carpet

Sartorially speaking, special events can be a challenge. So, my advice for this summer’s invitations? Wear what you feel comfortable in, then whoop things up with one showbiz piece. It’s the fool-proof fashion formula I use again and again. Easy-to-wear, effortlessly chic separates form the basis of the look – a pair of white jeans, wide-leg trousers or a maxi skirt – then I crank up the glamour-factor with a showpiece blouse, velvet jacket, glitzy flats or statement earrings. All it takes is one standout item to create an outfit that works both day and evening, indoors and out, and is appropriate for all those tricky ‘smart casual’ dress codes. The desired effect is to look modern, chic and stylish. To look like you haven’t tried too hard.

Casual Glamour on the side street.

One of my favourite showbiz items is the pull-on-and-go top – something I can throw on with jeans and a pair of loafers or sandals, if I’m rushing to go to a meeting or event. Pattern, print or sequins all whoop things up. Using my one-in-one-out rule, this new tuxedo shirt replaced the armpit-bothering kimono top (that now resides in the local charity shop). It’s from La Double J and having had my eye on it for a while, I pounced during the Liberty sale. The tuxedo shirt was still quite expensive but it’s a good ‘un and made from the finest Mantero silk. (La Double J is the fabulous brainchild of Milan-based journalist JJ Martin; also available HERE).

For special occasions, when there’s a lot of standing around, apply the zero-tolerance approach to uncomfortable shoes. I can’t handle high heels – and the twins were totally flummoxed by Cate Blanchett’s extreme stilettos, ‘Look at the angle of her feet!’ they gasped standing comfortably in their trainers and brogues. Good girls; they Know Their Style. And there are tonnes of fancy flats available: metallic loafers, cocktail trainers, velvet slippers, flatforms, kitten, block or mid-heels. No one ever looked glamorous with sore feet.


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