Why I am against buying outfits specifically for an occasion


Budget Dress finished picture

How often do you say, “I haven’t got anything to wear for ……… [fill in the blank], I’ll have to go and buy something.”?  And off you trudge, or online you swoop, searching out something suitable to wear.  “Do you think this will suit me?  Do you think this colour will be ok?  I prefer that one, but they don’t have it in my size.  Do you think this one will be ok?”

Really clothes should be fun to wear, an enjoyable, necessary part of our daily preparation.  Submitting ourselves to that last minute pressure is entirely  avoidable, all you need is:

a) a plan and

b) the confidence to stick to that plan.

The occasions which present themselves are individual but entirely predictable: a wedding; christening; wedding anniversary; 18th, 21st, 50th, 60th, 70th, 75th etc etc; lunch party; weekend away; drinks with the girls; date night; theatre, ballet or opera.  The cast of characters may change but the productions themselves remain ever the same.

So, what do you need in your wardrobe that takes away this need to go scurrying to the laptop/trawling the high street in supermarket sweep fashion?  Leaving your regular wardrobe needs alone for the time being, we are uniquely concerned today with occasion wear…..


Ok, here is your Absolutely Basic, Bare Bones Occasion Wear Wardrobe Selection List

This is the bare minimum requirement should the above title somehow not have sunk in……

One Black Dress

Classic style (ie not too fashionable or of the moment) – This can be worn for significant birthday parties (evening celebrations), dressy drinks with the girls; smart occasion theatre, ballet or opera.

One smart pair of trousers and very dressy top (beaded, embroidered, lace or all three)

Suitable for smart casual occasions: date night; cinema, parties, especially where the person celebrating their birthday is significantly younger;

One Smart Day Dress

Not black, in a colour that suits you in luxury fabrics, lace, velvet, silk, chiffon.  This is for events such as a wedding, christening, or wedding anniversary, smart day at the races.  Team with jacket, coat, pashmina, cardigan.

One Slightly Less Smart Day Dress

Again, in a colour, suitable for speech day; events that revolve around meetings followed by lunch for example a  Governors’ Meeting; slightly less smart day at the races.

Accessories to go with the day dress: hat or fascinator depending on the smartness of the occasion, a great piece of jewellery; necklace, brooch bracelets; a fab ring.

It goes without saying, but I will say it, that these items can, in fact should, be bought at your leisure, at the beginning of the year or season, or even made to measure, with thought.  They are not trash pieces, they’re investment pieces, they’re unique items in your wardrobe, which portray you as the interesting and characterful individual that you are, and give an indication to the outside world of the character beneath the garments.  If you want to look like frazzled, multi-tasking working mother then do, but most of us, deep down, are not that person, and with a little effort and planning on your part you can show yourself to the world as you would really wish.

Ringing the Changes

When you are sorted/organised with the outfits changing the accessories will help keep the item fresh.  Dresses can be modified over time, sleeves shortened, skirts straightened.  Different scarves, hats, jackets and coats can be worn with all items.  Next season you could add to each of these to add variety to your wardrobe and not wear out what you already have.  Even conservatively if you bought one item for each of the categories each year for the next four years you would have 5 items in total for each category, all of which you love, fit the dress code bill, and were purchased in a spirit of great enjoyment, not deep panic.

When these items join your wardrobe, remember which occasion the dress is for.  Then, when the invite comes floating through the door, you can look forward to the occasion and really enjoy it, knowing that you have something to wear and feel fabulous when you wear it.

Did you find this article useful?  What one habit will you change or adopt to make your relationship with your clothes calmer and better planned.  Please let me know in the comments section below.


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