I have had a couple of pertinent questions about outfits for 40th birthday parties and also school or university reunions (where most people will be 40). One question even asked about a 40th birthday party “capsule” as she had more than one event coming up that would have the same people at it, so could not wear the same showstopper dress to all parties. And as you know I am pathetically desperate to please, so here we go.
I would say the absolute building-block of any wardrobe, no matter where you are going or what you are doing, is a pair of black trousers or jeans. Especially when it comes to parties – no-one will see your bottom half, so it might as well be a pair of black trousers as anything else.
I know I bang on about them, but this pair from Frame denim are absolutely terrific. Loads of stretch and a nice weight of material that will not add any bulk to any area.
Here is a pair from TopShop if Frame is out of the question (ignore the insanely skinny model – they will fit normal people too). These jeans have the advantage of coming in Petite and Tall).
If a trouser is more your thing, JLP womenswear collection have a very good pair of slim, black tailored trousers:
Other Stories are very good on trousers and they have a lot in at the moment – I mean from the picture it’s just impossible to tell if these will look okay on a normal-shaped person, my advice is just to order about 4 different pairs and try them all on.
Once you have found a really brilliant pair of black trousers, evening wear is pretty much your oyster. To be completely of the moment I would say buy one or two really wacky blouses to wear on top. Blouses are just so incredibly now, right now (see the blue one that hit girl wears in an episode of Killing Eve – channel her).
If you need more evidence, the last few times I have seen Alison Loehnis, who is the CEO of Yoox, she has been wearing black trousers with a phenomenal, billowing blouse on top – and if it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for us. Possibly too good?
This one from Equipment is wonderful. There is only an L left, but unless you are very petite, give it a go as you want it nice and loose. If the cuffs are too loose, you can move a button.
This is also great and incredibly good value from Michael Kors (it also comes in green):
Another absolute bargain – this will suit you best if you have a small frame:
Cor and look at this one! See by Chloe for £100 – come on someone’s got to have it…
I love this mad one from Sister Jane. It has the air of Prada or Gucci or something about it
And look at this tremendous thing:
I have mentioned before how much I love this 70s one. I am VERY close to buying it for myself.
Nothing uncomfortable, ever. As above, at a party no-one will really notice your shoes so there is no point crippling yourself with some seksay pair of torture heels.
Now, look, these are bloody marvellous from Ted Baker:
You could stand up all night in these and still be smiling:
If that level of minimalism is just too depressing for you, these look comfy, in gold:
This style of sort of fetish Victorian bootie thing are about to come right back into fashion, if you’re feeling edgy
These are absolutely standard and will do right by you:
I am so into these embellished bovver boot things at the moment. If I didn’t already have a pair of buckled ankle boots I will get these because I tried them on and they were amazing. Absolutely 100% okay to wear in the evening and look so incredibly cool with some sort of floaty dress OR your black trousers and blouse.
For those of you who need or just want a WOW dress for a big 40th coming up, or maybe your 40th, here are the dresses I really rate right now.
This yellow cutie from Claudie Pierlot
I love this velvet mini dress – to be worn with black opaques and boots.
This from Kitri is bonkers but very forgiving and wearable
From the revamped Karen Millen – who I think is doing vg things at the moment – a dress to wear if it’s YOUR 40th. Though you do have to be in pretty good nick to wear this without feeling like a loonie
Ba&Sh are doing some wonderful dresses at the moment. I wore my black prairie dress from here all summer and was constantly asked where it was from.
This one is pretty amazing:
Utterly love this one – I picked it out for my friend Charlotte for the christening of her daughter, it’s really great – a bit Vampire’s Wife (but not too much)
I’ve got a lot of time for this one from Asos, which looks a lot like a Maje one from last year (but no-one will know that except me)
ONE LAST THING
As always, if you are dressing for a high-pressure event, make sure you just buy lots and lots of things online – literally spend £1k on your credit card – and mentally commit yourself to sending back absolutely anything that isn’t quite right. Leave yourself at least 3 weeks, if possible, before an event or series of events to find your outfit
Actually another thing – don’t forget you can literally wear any old black dress you’ve already got to any party and you’ll look fine.