If your social calendar takes you somewhere presentable, dresses tend to be the failsafe option. Lace and baroque opulence are the biggest evening trends this season, seen on the catwalks at Giles, Balmain and Paul Costelloe to name a few. Think gold, silver, and shades of red in luxuriously textured fabrics. Go to Asos for lace shifts and River Island for scarlet cocktail dresses, but best for the student budget is H&M’s shimmering brocade strapless dress, which at £19.99 captures the decadence trend perfectly. If you’re bold enough, make a statement by going for H&M’s lace midi. Longer lengths are so on trend and give the wearer a mixture of sophistication and insouciance.
Strapless dress, £19.99, H&M
They’ve been around for a while but statement tights are a simple way to create different looks with one dress. Patterned with polka dots, suspenders and even tattoos, for around £8 a pop they’re an easy outfit lifter. Sheer tights look particularly glamorous peaking out from under a faux fur coat, perfect for dashing out in the bitter frost between parties, but try to avoid the high street and go for something vintage - it's usually around the same price or cheaper and a lot more authentic.
Sheer tights, £8, Topshop
If you don’t want to buy a new dress it's easy to create the same textured look with accessories. Leopard print accessories are all over the high street; you can’t walk anywhere without seeing someone wearing a now ubiquitous scarf. Translate this into belts, clutch bags and shoes for evening to liven up any old LBD. Towering heels are always a must but towering leopard print heels can take an outfit to a whole new level of chic. Top of every fashion editor’s wish list are the amazing leopard print stilettos from Lanvin for H&M. At £79.99 they aren’t pocket money cheap but if you can afford it, I highly advise investing. In fact, the whole collection is a master class in colourful cocktail party dressing, and you’re not going to get Lanvin for the price of Topshop again anytime soon. If your budget can’t quite make the stretch however, New Look usually tend to have a good selection of party shoes at student friendly prices.
Leopard stilettos, £79.99, Lanvin for H&M
If dresses aren’t your thing definitely try shorts in an interesting fabric, leather or sequins for example. Wear with aforementioned statement tights for a variety of outfits from one pair. Confident party go-ers might consider sequin hotpants – so wrong, yet somehow so right. Paired with a sheer silk shirt and cropped tuxedo jacket they are less Truffle Shuffle and more Sienna Miller in her Factory Girl days, or Kate Moss out on the town in all her glory. Cheeky bowtie optional. You can usually pick up a pair for under £15 from Primark or H&M around Christmas, but I’m also loving this fantastic gold pair with pink chiffon overlay from Topshop, £55. For the jacket, Primark are doing a great version for £19.99, but you’ll have to be quick.
Skirt with hotpant, £55, Topshop
Tuxedo jacket, £19.99, Primark
As always the most important rule for stylish winter dressing is don’t take yourself too seriously and be comfortable in what you’re wearing, but particularly in a season of minimalistic daywear one must look to night time as a chance to escape from camel and chunky knits and throw on something with a bit of interest and sparkle.
By Rachel Cragg