I Tried On Every Party Item I Could Find—These 20 Impressed Me

Once we hit November 1, in my book, it’s officially party season! It’s when we all seem to have recovered from the initial doom and gloom of our post-summer-holiday slump, and we’ve stocked up on winter warmers to keep us looking chic through the colder months. But whilst I love a great coat and cosy knit, it doesn’t get much better than party dressing.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am a magpie for a standout party outfit. Why settle for anything less when you can be dripping in sequins, flouncing in frills, and… Well, you get my drift. And whilst it might seem a little hasty to be shopping for party outfits already, there are only a limited number of weeks in the run-up to the festive season, so you might as well make the most of them, as it’s often the first party-dressing pieces to hit stores that are the best, oh, and the ones that will sell out the fastest.

So what did I find? Well, this season, party dressing is all about extremes. Hemlines are either mini or maxi, shoulders are big, and sequins are jumbo in size, but the good news is the shift away from throwaway trends means there’s something for everyone, and if it’s a really great dress you’re after that you will wear time and time again? Well, I found them tenfold. Scroll down to see for yourself.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

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@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

When in doubt, wear sequins! & Other Stories always does a great sequin party dress, but I really liked how it used an asymmetric hem and stripes to give it a new-season spin. It was surprisingly comfy and easy to zip up on my own—a bonus.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

Worried about wearing the same outfit as your bestie to the party? This co-ord is a real showstopper, and it's perfect for creating an unexpected party look. Plus, you could easily mix and match the top and bottom with other pieces in your wardrobe to get more bang for your buck all year round.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

I rarely opt for a simple LBD, but the silver rings on the sides of this dress gave it the "wow factor" whilst appearing equally understated and modern. I was surprised by how well this dress was cut, too, and the fabric had a bit of stretch to it, which meant it fit me like a glove.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

If you’re looking to buy into one of the biggest trends for 2022, then '90s details such as this velvet bow are very of the moment. 

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

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@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

Hayley Menzies is known for her knitted cardigans, but it is to be said that her dresses are pretty fab too, and this number is the perfect day-to-night option. Wear with boots and tights by day, and throw on a pair of strappy sandals before you hit the office party.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

I never tire of a cute-top-and-jeans combo. Zara must have switched up its denim designer, as its jeans have never been so good. I love the contrast of the stonewash with the sequins and leather-look blazer. Plus, if you’re on a budget, these are all pieces you will get a lot of wear out of, all year round.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

Sometimes, low-key can have a maximum impact, which is why I was sold on this shirred maxi dress. The funnel neck is incredibly flattering, and when I saw the colour, I was sold. 

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

If you love Isabel Marant vibes minus the price tag, this super-mini wrap dress will do the trick. Top tip: I recommend sizing up to give it a more luxe feel.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

This dress is minimal effort and maximum impact. The '60s shift style is incredibly forgiving, whilst the jumbo sequins will have you matching your festive baubles perfectly.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

This thick tweed dress definitely isn’t one for the sweaty dance floor of the work do, but dinner invites call for standout necklines (you will be sitting down for most of the evening—don’t forget), which is why the gold chain straps and bow detail on this minidress make it a winner!

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

The tuxedo dress is a timeless piece you will have in your wardrobe for seasons to come. And this one was pretty special. The cut, the weight of the fabric, how it moved—this dress was anything but boring, and it has a cheeky opening at the back to contrast the structured tailoring. 

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

There’s so much I love about this dress—the luxe fabric, the power shoulders—but my key takeaway from this is how effortless it is. The dress speaks for itself, so tie your hair back and just add a pair of heels.  

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

This is a great example of why the wrap dress continues to be such a popular dress shape. And whilst you will have probably seen many iterations of it over time, this was definitely one of the most flattering that I found. The pussy-bow necktie and leopard jacquard fabric were nice touches to give it a youthful feel.

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

Celebrating with the family? The trusty sequin-skirt-and-top combo is the perfect mix of party and comfort and enough stretch around the middle to leave room for the three desserts and a cheese board. Priorities, right?

Lily Russo tries on the best party looks for 2021

Photo:

@lilyrussobah for WHO WHAT WEAR

When I do actually wear this dress, I will definitely add some sheer black tights to tie it all together. It was pretty bum-skimming in length, but the contrast with the high neck and long sleeves means it works. 

Next up, the partywear trends we're into this year.

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