The party dress made for late summer glamour

“No wonder so many of us would rather show up somewhere underdressed than, God forbid, overdressed” – Sarah Brick

Ever since the miracle of the lionesses, we’ve heard a lot about how you have to see it to be it.

Well, sometimes you have to wear it to feel it – even if it seems like an effort. That’s probably the point. Wearing a dress like this shows a commitment to fun that can be self-fulfilling. If you go to a party in something ultra-low-key hoping you can slip away after half an hour without anyone noticing, chances are that’s what will happen. I’ve been there and it’s okay, sort of. But why bother at all?

In some circles, dressing up is seen as trying hard. Dog’s dinner, turned up to the nines, who does she think she is? These do not have positive connotations. No wonder so many of us would far rather show up somewhere underdressed than, God forbid, overdressed. Maybe this is a Northern European thing, rooted in a spiritual drowsiness, but it seems like a lost opportunity.

It doesn’t have to be sequins. It could be a silk-satin shirt in a punchy shade – anything that gets the blood pumping. When someone – a guest or a host – goes to town, it’s a huge compliment to those around them. What we wear helps to set the mood. That’s why dress codes persist while other rules crumble.

“Wearing a dress like this shows a commitment to fun that can be self-fulfilling”

Lisa is wearing: Sequin dress, £250, Jigsaw; crystal bag, £110, Jigsaw; cashmere silk scarf, £250, Both x Co; wool blend blazer, £268, Travel; shoes, from a selection, Le Monde Beryl; pearl and gold vermeil rings, from £80, Olivia and Pearl; all other jewelry, Lisa’s own

So here’s a pretty excellent summer party dress (and winter, because even though it’s not everyday, it’s a year-round party dress). Lengthening V-neck; draped in front for flatter stomachs; flashes the ankle a little. The biggest downside is definitely that it’s sleeveless – but that’s why it’s the most comfortable sequined dress I’ve ever tried on.

Either way, jackets slide over it – and are a way to make it less blingy. (A slouchy jumper is another). Skimmy not skinny, tin rather than full on gold, it shows shape without feeling like a corset. It’s described as a midi online, but anyone under 5ft 5in should prepare for a maxi and adjust your footwear accordingly. Most platforms will look clumsy at this length, which works best with straps, mid-heel sandals or mules.

Small beauty touches can just as easily get you into a festive mood: a red gel manicure (chipped nails are a downer if you’re over 25), bold lips and hair that does what it’s meant to do.

As for the bag, it did indeed take the scarf – but for looks. With a pair of jeans or a velvet flare and some sparkly sandals, that might be all you need.

Six of my favorite purchases…

Lisa Armstrong Favorite Buy

Lisa Armstrong Favorite Buy

Clockwise from top left: sequin skirt, £129, Hush; Rouge Coco Lip Balm, £33, Chanel; shirt, £245, Serena Bute; Raffia earrings, £135, Let Double J; Infinite Shine Nail Polish in Unrepentantly Red, £15.95, Opioid; leather slingbacks, £195, Camilla Elphick

Read last week’s column: What I wear to outdoor theatre

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