Alright girls, party season is here! Now, cue the panic that comes with trying to scramble together a last minute New Year’s Eve outfit for that upcoming dinner party, friendly get together or cocktail reception. Every year we’re met with the struggle to find a dress that’s as easy on the eye as it is easy on the wallet. It’s got to be on trend yet timeless, flattering yet sexy and comfortable yet fun. All that and it’s STILL got to go down a treat when I post my snaps on Instagram! So, with that I mind I bravely took on the £150 Challenge for a special NYE Edition and ventured out to Oxford Street with three pink notes in my pocket on the prowl for the perfect outfit.
I began my search by zeroing in on dresses and jumpsuits – find yourself the right one and you’ve got the hardest part sorted! In an attempt to keep it classy, I was on the lookout for little black numbers. I started out in Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Circus where I spied a sleek sequined jumpsuit, next I headed to the adjoining Miss Selfridge’s where I came across an off the shoulder midi dress. There were a few honourable mentions out there, but it was River Island’s take on this season’s must have tux dress that had me head over heels. They’ve adapted a high end trend for the high street by giving the hallowed LBD a revamp with satin lapels and gold button accents. All the big designers from Balmain through to Balenciaga have made their very own version of the tux dress. Hello Magazine have been touting it as “a sexy, modern take on power dressing” and according to one of my favourite fashion blogs – Who What Wear – this trend has even been spotted on the likes of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé. So, if it’s good enough for them, then it’s certainly good enough for me!
Depending on your mood for the night, this River Island number can be dressed up with chandelier earrings, strappy gold sandals and a glitzy clutch, or styled with a black biker jacket, chunky ankle boots and a smoky eye for a bit more attitude. Despite River Island’s version being made from a figure hugging jersey crepe fabric, this dress flatteringly wraps around the waist and boasts an asymmetrical hem to balance out the bottom half. It makes a great fit for accentuating the nipped in waists of pear shapes and hour glass figures, plus at £45 it was bang on budget. So, looking back at the criteria my dress had to meet – trendy, timeless, flattering and so on – it seemed I’d found myself a perfect match!
With my dress in check, I found myself an elegant black collarless coat in H&M – a classic 60’s silhouette updated with functional oversized pockets. The best thing about this coat is that I could see myself wearing it again and again, not just for nights out but with ballet flats and my favourite skinny jeans for a simple day ensemble. One of the most important things to remember when shopping on a budget is to go with pieces that you can easily incorporate into the rest of your wardrobe.
Now that I had my outerwear sorted, it was time to move onto accessories. With the help of a very friendly Sales Associate, I stumbled across a sleek pair of faux suede sandals with a cool criss cross detail at the front in Zara. The Sales Associate highlighted the extra walking support that came with a chunky heel, plus the inch platform would give my bronze pins a boost and help them match effortlessly with New Look’s gorgeous little rose gold box clutch – a steal at just £11.99! I discovered this golden piece whilst rummaging through the sale section, which goes to show a little digging can go a long way.
I kept up the metallic accents by going for a chunky gold chain choker from Urban Outfitters – this season’s accessory du jour. That’s right, the 90’s choker is back and Marie Claire’s Caroline Leaper recommends going for chunkier styles to elongate the neck. “The styling trick, it seems, lies in what you team your choker with” she said, “an off shoulder top, a slip dress, or just something to expose the rest of your décolletage seems to balance out the skin to fabric ratio”. Teaming up a choker necklace with my tux dress would offset any cleavage that would be on show and draw attention towards my collarbones and neck. Urban Outfitters hooked me up with a neat 20% off with their student discount program, which meant I paid just £9.60 for this winter’s number one statement necklace.
Now let’s see how we’re doing. Smoking hot dress? Check. Killer heels? Check. Awesome accessories? Check. With all that done and dusted, it was time to have a think about hair and make-up. According to Lisa Niven of Vogue Magazine, statement lips are all the rage this winter, so I’ll be finishing off my party look with a swoop of bright red lipstick like my favourite shade Ruby Woo from MAC. With my hair, for a day to day look I usually opt for my go to style, scraping it back into my signature low bun. I thought to myself, I could jazz up my regular hairdo by securing my hair with neat little golden bobby pins from COS. The golden pins would be complimented by my golden hoop earrings from Claire’s, another bargain at just £3. With my outfit sorted, I’d completed the £150 challenge with 6 quid left to treat myself to well-earned cup of coffee and slice of cake at Patisserie Valerie on Oxford Street after a long, hard day of shopping.
- Tux Dress, River Island – £45
- Collarless Coat, H&M – £29.99
- Platform Sandals, Zara – £39.99
- Box Clutch, New Look’s – £11.99
- Chain Choker, Urban Outfitters – £9.60
- Bobby Pins, COS – £4
- Hoop Earrings, Claire’s – £3
Total – £143.57