Melissa Hardy’s non-sequin midlife party edit

I always think that around November and December is the perfect time of year to have some fun with fashion. You can try something different simply by selecting pieces that feel ‘special’, without completely overhauling your wardrobe. I’m all about re-wearing pieces that you adore, and am firmly anti-sequin – how many times have you felt pressured to buy something excessively bejewelled because it’s ‘what you do’ as the year ends, only to wear it once and then confine it to the back of your wardrobe?

With my edit, you’ll be able to choose pieces that can be worn and styled as partywear, but can also be slotted back into your everyday repertoire for a more relaxed look.

So how do we achieve this?

We can approach this in a few key ways: looking at shape, fabric choice and colour. Let’s start with shape.

Nailing the perfect silhouette

I love a tuxedo suit like this Wynne Collection jacket. It creates a confident, powerful look when worn together with the matching trousers, or can be separated for a slightly more relaxed effect. To dress this Wynne Collection jacket down, team with some premium denim in a slim shape for a look that’s perfect for drinks with friends.

For a pop of colour, this fuchsia jacket is amazing. There’s been a huge move towards trouser suits in bright colours, and this can easily work for a special occasion. The sleeveless shape creates bold contrast and effortlessly looks sharp, tailored and modern.

If you want a little texture, this statement White Stuff design features velvet fabrication for a decadent look, or try boucle for something a little more quirky.

To pair with the clean lines of your suit, I love an oversized shirt. This one from Everyday Jones is perfect. You can team it with tuxedo trousers or palazzo trousers, and simply add statement jewellery to finish the look.

Speaking of palazzo trousers, I’m a fan because it’s a key piece that does all the heavy lifting. Try these Wynne Collection ones in a funky skirt style. A sleeveless roll neck or satin blouse adds interest, or for more drama, go for the trusty tuxedo jacket.

Finally, if you prefer a more traditionally feminine silhouette, a layered skirt in a gauzy fabric can pair beautifully with a statement jacket to nip you in at the waist, and still feel relatively casual and comfy with soft knitwear and boots.

My top tip: don’t always focus on shape in your top pieces; instead, try changing the shape of the bottom pieces to create impact.

Now, let’s move onto fabrication.

Fabric and feel

Using pile and textured fabrics are a great way to up the glamour stakes for your partywear outfits. These fabrics also adapt colours and tones in a unique way to help make a statement.

With these fabrics, a more modern approach would be to switch up your textures, rather than keeping it monotone. For example, a satin wide leg trouser with a more structured matte jacket adds glamour to your outfit, or team the satin trouser with crisp white shirt or luxe knitwear.

As before, this White Stuff velvet blazer adds decadence and texture and can be mixed with satins, cottons and even denim.

If you love the drama of plisse dresses and skirts, this stunning plisse dress from Danni Minogue in a pewter shade has structure, drama and a touch of sparkle.

Tulle works in a similar way to plisse as it adds volume while still looking elegant. This Phase Eight dress has a monochrome print with subtle spot detailing and the round, high neckline is gorgeous.

If you love the forgiving, drapey nature of satin, we have a lot of options. Wide leg trousers from Apricot are tailored but still floaty and comfortable, or you could choose a satin blouse like this one from Wynne Collection.

The contrasting chiffon sleeves feel playful and add some structure too!

I love lace as it adds drama and texture without feeling gaudy. This Danni Minogue blouse offers a structured shoulder and a gorgeous high neckline, while still feeling open and celebratory with the sheer lace accents.

(Faux) leather is another winner in my book. A fitted midi skirt can be worn so often and you can dress it up or down depending on your needs. This one from Ruth Langsford sits just above the knee and the solid waistband means you can tuck tops in or wear them loose too.

If looking for prints, my advice is too move away from ditsy prints and choose larger scale designs with more of an abstract effect in deeper jewel tones. Helene Berman is known for her gorgeous shirt dress style, which you can browse here.

Accessorising with colour

Jewel tones come into their own this season, either in clothing or accessory pops – green is a newer shade that I absolutely love. Try a more understated palette of black and cream and accent with accessories in metallic hues, or bags with lustre or shimmer like this Ruth Langsford piece. 

Aimee Kestenburg’s vanilla leather bag screams luxury and is functional and so elegant.

You can add texture and colour with faux fur, like this Paul Costelloe scarf – which is deliciously cosy for winter without looking heavy or boxy.

For an accessory with real impact, these stunning Moda in Pelle metallic loafers add a vibrant pop of colour you could enjoy year-round.

Even if you are keeping your outfit more paired back, adding excitement with your accessories can really elevate a look. Try a metallic clutch like the Ruth Langsford one above to lift an outfit. And the great news is that accessories like these can use to elevate simple jeans and a top for any night out, not just a special occasion.

The pieces I’ve chosen can be worn and styled in a more relaxed way to ensure you can wear them multiple times.

Most importantly, buy what you absolutely love and enjoy feeling fabulous!

Read Melissa’s previous piece on midlife fashion here.

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