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Summer was one of the best yet but I’m ready for darker evenings, candlelit dinners and a dose of evening glamour. However, evening wear always poses a bit of a dilemma in terms of cost per wear, so I want to keep my evening looks up to date and quick to hand by investing in hard-working separates. By styling them in different ways, you really get the wear out of them. The key is look at both high-end and affordable brands for unusual designs – pieces you'll be hard pushed to find again and still want to wear for years to come.
The Satin Blouse
This is a half jacket, half blouse and these puff sleeves in a glossy satin give a little hint of couture style. Meanwhile, the full, boxy cropped shape works with plenty, whether you choose to vamp it up with a leather pencil skirt or make it more formal with a maxi skirt. A round, simple neckline allows for plenty of statement jewellery – plus, it can be worn open like a decorative jacket over a strapless dress or long gown. The only issue is what colour to go for – it comes in black, cream, rich emerald or a sophisticated nougat.
Nothing screams glamour like an oversized bow – especially in pink. A statement mini is so much fun, not to mention more versatile than a dress and a more economical way of doing evening glam. Downplay the drama with a chic knit and tights, wear it with a t-shirt and killer mule heels for modern sex appeal, or really amp it up with a bodysuit and statement jewellery. Hot pink is big again this season but if it's too strong a colour for you, & Other Stories has a stylish metallic paillette mini. Just remember to keep the top half simple – only one piece can take centre stage at any one time.
I'm a sucker for a cape in the evening, particularly longer streamlined shapes worn over a long maxi slip dress, and the magpie in me cannot resist sequins (black sequins are always a more muted option if bling isn’t your thing). Tied around the neck with a large black bow, this almost verges on vintage costume – it definitely plays into my theatrical side. Don't assume it's restricted to black tie, though. Even with jeans or leather trousers, it makes for a pretty sensational piece of outerwear for a night out. Warehouse and River Island are great high-street options – particularly for pieces with interesting details.
The Jewelled Shirt
For something slightly less ladylike, check out Sandro, which has plenty of oversized silk shirts in jewel tones this season. A classic with a fashion forward twist, think of it as a plain boyfriend shirt embellished with a bit of bling. This gentle ecru combined with crystal appliqué is giving serious Miu Miu vibes, and worn with the matching shorts or as a separate, it’s seriously versatile. Unexpected with a tuxedo suit, dressed up with a marabou feather skirt, thrown under a cashmere cardigan, worn with black stirrup leggings… the choices are endless. Zara also has a similar version in pale blue which is kinder on the wallet and Sister Jane, a brand I love for evening, has a vintage-inspired ladylike shirt with a crystal embellished collar.
The Bustier Top
I'd forgotten how useful a bustier top can be – they used to be a staple in my wardrobe and this season, I've fallen hard for them again. Super flattering (especially the corseted kind), they’re insanely cool with a pair of tailored trousers. That slick sexy Saint Laurent look works for any black-tie event – just pull your hair back and add a necklace, earrings and smart blazer or jacket. Here, the V-neck feels contemporary, while a subtle peplum creates a neat silhouette – perfect with trousers or skirts. If you are concerned about needing more support, Self Portrait has a cropped design with strategically placed diamante beading.
The PVC Trousers
A pair of statement trousers has to be one of the most useful items in my evening wardrobe. They always present the perfect match for a blouse or blazer, giving just the right amount of glam while still looking effortless and sexy. Team them with something white or cream for luxe contrast or use them to give the tuxedo look a vampy twist. Commando has a great patent pair that sit like a second skin – also, check out Victoria Beckham at The OUTNET. If you'd rather focus on shape over texture, Norma Kamali's leggings are always a great option. At the more affordable end of the scale, Warehouse has a fab pair of studded leather trousers that look more like Isabel Marant than high street.
If you're looking for a bit of boudoir style glamour, try Nadine Merabi. Co-ordinated skirt and trouser sets are a fun way to wear monochrome – I never tire of the pyjama look and details like crystal buttons make them appropriate for evening. Keep the accessories simple – though a pair of diamante earrings is always a stunning match. 16Arlington is another master of marabou – I love this simple black tank – and if you’re looking for a party dress perfect for the winter season, I always recommend looking at Karen Millen.