We Try Before You Buy: 10 Party Outfits to Get You Through The Season

Our We Try Before You Buy series aims to take the stress out of shopping and eliminate the number of post office visits you make each month to return failed online orders. We test new-season buys and styling ideas so you don’t have to. Here, we’re letting you know what’s actually worth investing in.

Party season is in full swing, and whether you're planning to host a fancy Christmas do for friends and loved ones or have a New Year's Eve event your radar, there's no doubt many of us will have at least one reason to dress up over the next few weeks. 

With that in mind, team Who What Wear UK set out to find the best party dressing options available for 2019, scouring a range of categories, including designer, high street, cult Instagram brands, vintage and rental. Given that sustainability and conscious consumption are currently a focus within the fashion industry, this year we've seen several new clothing and accessory rental services arise. And as our Editor Emma Spedding discovered, the options are abundant if you want to borrow your party look this December. 

Best party outfits: Anya Hindmarch Bag

Photo:

zoepopi for Who What Wear

Anya Hindmarch Small Postbox Bag, rented from Cocoon Club, £99 monthly membership.   

From a silk Zimmermann wrap dress to a vintage velvet mini and of course, a whole lot of sequins, here are the party looks we're loving this season shot within the beautiful Kimpton Fitzroy London

Alyss Bowen, Social Media Editor: Cult Instagram Brands

Best party outfits: Retrofete Dress

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alyssbowen for Who What Wear.

"As soon as I saw this mini, I knew I had to try it on. The shoulder pads, the crystals, the high neck. It's the perfect mix of sexy and cute, and I want to wear it all Christmas long. I've teamed it with some knee-high vintage boots to tone it down a little, but if I had somewhere ultra glam to wear it, I'd totally wear big heels." 

Best party outfits: Kitri Dress

Photo:

alyssbowen for Who What Wear.

"Kitri is my go-to for classic dresses, and this sequin number is exactly that with added glitz. I love the flattering wrap style and deep blue colour. Hello, Christmas party outfit of dreams." 

Emma Spedding, Editor: Rented

Best party outfits: Anna October Dress

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speddingemma for Who What Wear
Best party outfits: Anna October Dress

Photo:

speddingemma for Who What Wear

"The rental market is suddenly booming in the UK, with the option to now borrow a dress for a day or week or two. The joy of renting is that you can wear something outside of your usual budget or really go all out for sequins or a statement dress that you might not be able to wear enough to justify a purchase. Firstly I went to the Hurr pop-up in Victoria which is an absolute treasure trove of beautiful dresses. It was impossible to pick just one, but this Anna October dress is one of the most special things I've ever tried on. This would cost £890, so it's a treat to be able to borrow something so luxurious. The only downside of renting however is that you might fall hard (as I have here)—giving it back was harder than I'd like to admit."

Anna October Silk-Blend Lame Midi Dress rented from Hurr Collective, £102.50 (RRP £890)

Best party outfits: Danse Lente Bag

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speddingemma for Who What Wear
Best party outfits: Rixo Dress

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speddingemma for Who What Wear

"I love Rixo dresses but would usually lean to more classic, printed midi dresses that I could wear to work and to weddings, and even at the weekend if I paired it with a chunky knit and boots. I wouldn't ever buy a dress this bold, but that's the joy of renting, getting to wear something totally fabulous. I found this rainbow-striped sequin dress on the By Rotation app, another London-based rental platform that stocks cult brands like Ganni and Rotate Birger Christensen."

Rixo Coco Sequined Tulle Midi Dress rented from the By Rotation app for £15 per day. 

Joy Montgomery, Shopping Editor: Vintage

Best party outfits: Vintage Velvet Dress

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joy_monty for Who What Wear

"I have been a vintage-lover for as long as I can remember, and while I can shop secondhand bags and jackets til the cows come home, I sometimes struggle when it comes to partywear. Throwback styles can tend to come in dodgy fabrics and silhouettes (think huge shoulders and clingy polyester), however, I set myself a challenge with this article to find two dresses that I'd happily wear for upcoming Christmas dos. My first is actually a dress I already owned but had forgotten about and comes in a delicious blue velvet and thigh-grazing '60s fit. It was made to be worn with black tights and heeled sandals—very Alexa. Just add a statement bag and you're dancefloor-ready."

Best party outfits: Vintage Pink Dress

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joy_monty for Who What Wear

"This '80s pink plisse number comes courtesy of Who What Wear's contributor, Isabel Mundigo-Moore, who is a fellow vintage fanatic. I was instantly won over by the unusual tiered skirt and delicate pink hue, which somehow feels distinctly throwback yet still contemporary. This is the great thing about vintage: You can find statement looks which you know no one else will be seen in. Also, bear in mind that you can easily have clothing taken in if it comes up too long or oversized. I'll be wearing this look with a pop of red lipstick and minimal accessories. Shop similar styles below."

Nell Block, Assistant Editor: Designer

Best party outfits: Goat Dress

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nellblock for Who What Wear

"I can’t resist anything shiny come the party season, but I also like long sleeves so I’m not freezing (yes, I am a bit of a grandma); this Goat dress ticks both those boxes. What I didn’t anticipate is how great it makes me feel thanks to the fit on the waist and the slight flare on the skirt, which is super flattering. A party dress to wear over and over."  

Best party outfits: Paco Rabanne Bag

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nellblock for Who What Wear

"Paco Rabanne isn't a new brand, but it did experience somewhat of a resurgence in popularity this year, thanks to its eye-catching on-trend designs. Nothing speaks to my magpie heart more than this oversized-sequin bag. This is undeniably a party bag so it's not exactly practical for the rest of the year (other than wedding season), but, happily, you can borrow this from Cocoon Club, a fashion rental service." 

Paco Rabanne 1969 Sequin Mini Bag rented from Cocoon Club (£99 monthly membership)

Best party outfits: Zimmermann Dress

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nellblock for Who What Wear

"This is what I imagine the red dress emoji lady would look like if she was wearing an LBDand I see that as a good thing. This wrap dress by Zimmermann confirms my theory that this brand just loves women, as every part of this frock hugs you in all the right places without making you feel like you’re on display. Sassy but chic." 

Zoe Anastasiou, Fashion Editor: High Street

Best party outfits: Topshop Skirt

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zoepopi for Who What Wear 

"While the Christmas season often calls for OTT outfits, sometimes it's nice to stay true to your personal style. This skirt-and-cami combo is not a huge departure from what I'd usually wear to work or on the weekend, which is precisely why I love it. I look completely like myself, only a little more elevated thanks to the heel and statement bag." 

Best party outfits: Topshop Dress

Photo:

zoepopi for Who What Wear 

"I'm not usually the kind of girl who loves shimmer, but when it comes to party season, I try to make an exception. Despite the fact it's completely covered in sequins, this dress was actually a lot lighter than I thought it would be and looks much more expensive than its Topshop price tag would suggest. It's perfect for party season if you're looking to make a statement or stand out in a crowd." 

Best party outfits: Topshop Dress

Photo:

zoepopi for Who What Wear 

Thank you to the Kimpton Fitzroy London for providing the ideal backdrop for our party shoot. 

Next up, see the spring/summer trends you need to know for 2020.