Look to the High Street for affordable black tie style
AMAZINGLY FOR SOMEONE who leaves packing until the last minute, forward planning came easy this week. The Peter Mark VIP Style Awards fell simultaneously with a holiday to Greece — well, a flight the next morning and so I had to dedicate a few long nights of laundry, ironing and multitasking to get to me to the ball and then the airport in good spirits. If travelling often has taught me anything over the years it’s to pack light and efficiently but I can’t say dusting off holiday gear while organising a swoon-worthy gown for the red carpet was that simple. I did have to step over piles of shorts, flip-slops and bikinis amidst Cinderella shoes and dodge dresses dangling like hanging baskets in my spare room — I won’t lie. Multitasking I can do, but synchronous packing is, perhaps, not my forte. Anyone who has ever dressed for a black tie event in warmer weather will initially struggle with the idea. The words ‘black tie’ instantly conjure up equal amounts of excitement and panic. Excitement because we get to splash out on something extraordinary - it’s not every day you get to wear full-length tulle coated in jewels and the thought of it, personally, evokes a certain kind of magic. Panic comes from the concept of black tie —the idea of a certain set of rules being applied to an event and having to adapt your own style to it. Over the years the description of black tie has become somewhat muddied. Generally it’s safest to go long but nowadays you can bend the rules depending on the amount of palaver. Is it a drinks receptions, five course dinner and drinks? Or drinks and civilised dancing? Remember, black tie doesn’t mean you have to wear black, although sometimes it is the best canvas and easy to jazz up with heels and jewellery. Short is appropriate too but nothing above the knee. If you like different and quirky, a tailored evening suit (Marks and Spencer and Zara have some versions worth investing in) works the same kind of va va voom as a faffy frock or a long satin dress and separates — a lace top and full midi skirt — are pieces that you could potentially wear again. Alternatively you can rent vintage which means you don’t have to stare at your hard-earned cash languishing, unloved in frock form after the event. I have raided Covet in Powerscourt, Frock n Fabulous and Dirty Fabulous on Wicklow Street in the past. But this year I settled for simplicity — a sheer dress via Topshop’s new bridal collection with pink velvet Mary Janes. And Greece? I’m still here, poolside, soaking up the heat. That’s for next week.
It’s not every day you get to wear full-length, jewelcoated tulle