It’s the time of year when invitations start coming in. I’ll be covering party dressing and black tie for women over 40 in more detail in a few weeks’ time but I thought I’d show you what I chose to wear to a Black Tie event last Friday. I’d been thinking about what I was going to wear for a while. I kept looking through the barely worn cocktail dresses that hang in my dressing room, not wanting to wear any of them and then feeling cross with myself because it’s such a waste of money. Over the years I have learned that shiny, sparkly cocktail dresses are the closest I ever come to a one night stand, I love them for an evening but then never want to see them again.

I’m sure I can’t be the only person who feels like this so I decided it was time to find a new approach. After all, eveningwear is expensive and so it needs to be something that you want to wear again and again. As soon as this midi skirt appeared online at Finery, I knew it could be the solution and having the Black Tie event gave me the perfect excuse to order it. When it arrived I discovered that it is perfect to dress up for an evening event but you only have to switch to a polo neck and boots and you can wear it for work. Much better value, in my opinion, than a sparkly dress. This is how it looked.

Nikki Garnett

Hobbs jacket (past season, this year’s version); Finery skirt (international delivery); Bombshell jersey top; Jigsaw ponyskin shoes and clutch (past season); Eternal Collection pearl necklace

As you can see, I teamed it with a short black jacket from Hobbs which was the perfect cut for the skirt but made it look a bit corporate so I ‘shoulder robed’ it instead. The top that I’m wearing was just the right shape. It comes from the very talented Katya at Bombshell London who has taken her signature sweetheart neckline into high quality jersey. It is close fitting so it tucked into the skirt nicely but it is easily long enough to wear with coated skinny jeans or leggings too and – it is currently reduced (and yes, they do deliver internationally).


It is cut so that you can wear it slightly off the shoulder for an evening like this or a little higher as in the picture above. All of her clothes are designed to flatter the bust whether it is large or small, revealing the full impact of the clavicles but without any cleavage on show. Bombshell is a tiny British company run by a woman over 40 who is chasing her dreams so, as you can tell, I am encouraging you to support her.


The skirt has lace daisies embroidered onto a gauzy over layer and a light underskirt.  The fabric is stiff and so it stands out giving you a true 1950s silhouette. It makes you want to twirl. So I did!

There is nothing to show here!
Slider with alias Black Tie not found.

We found a quiet spot so I didn’t scare too many people!

Black Tie for Women over 40

I wore the pearl necklace that you have seen a few times before. I often use it to stop the colour being drained from my face when I’m wearing black.


I’d love to go on and regale you with stories of a glittering evening but they wouldn’t be true. It was a business ‘dinner and dance’ so it involved a lot of polite conversation with some very nice people but I can’t pretend that it was the highlight of my year. I was very pleased that I didn’t feel overdressed though, in fact I’m wondering if the cocktail dress has had its day. I’ll tell you soon when I’ve done some more research.

Before we move away from pearls, it was my sister’s birthday last week, a big one, she’s twenty years older than me so I’ll let you work it out. I wanted to give her something special but really struggled to decide what it would be. In the end I decided on pearls – or rather a pearl, along with her birthstone and she seemed really pleased. I just thought I’d show you in case you find yourself struggling for a classic gift at any point.


October opal and pearl pendant

Other statement skirts to buy right now

Partywear is just starting to appear in stores and there is a definite ‘statement skirt’ moment going on. I saw this one when I was in London last week and it’s stunning. The satin is really heavy and it feels as though it should be twice the price. You could wear it with teal, gold or a dusty pink top.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Statement bird skirt (US link)

It has these Cinderella sandals to go with it, on trend velvet but comfortable too.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Stiletto bow sandal (also available in navy) US link

This skirt isn’t quite as spectacular but, like the one I’m wearing above, you would be able to dress it down with a polo neck by day. It is much richer in real life than it looks in this picture, the gold really gleams.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Gold zig zag skirt (US link)

If a pencil skirt is more your style, I saw this at the Press Day and was really impressed with the quality. It’s bronze rather than gold which makes it slightly subdued.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Sequin pencil skirt (US link)

Or you could go for a gentle ballerina effect with this tulle. I have a tulle skirt that I bought for our weekend in Paris but didn’t end up wearing. I need another party to go to so I can show you.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Tulle skirt (US link)

Here’s a different monochrome skirt

Black Tie for Women over 40

Meslita skirt

More monochrome and I’m scaling up the budget but this skirt is stunning.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Aine skirt

Even though it is listed as a midi, this skirt looks more knee-length to me but it dips down at the back so it could be a good option for petites. I don’t think it would have a proper midi effect on anybody over 5ft 5″

Black Tie for Women over 40

Full satin midi skirt

This skirt is reduced and currently has all sizes available

Black Tie for Women over 40

Sulan statement skirt

A new Black Tie range from Kin at John Lewis

Whilst I was in the process of investigating a slightly less traditional take on Black Tie for women over 40, I came across the range that John Lewis have launched for Kin this week. I thought I’d show it to you now because it seems to be a limited edition so it won’t be around for long. Kin have been working with fashion graduates at Norwich University who specialise in pattern cutting. The pieces focus on silhouette which clearly fits with the whole pared down Kin aesthetic. The students say they were influenced by ‘Brutalist architecture.’

This pleated dress is classic from the front but you can see the architectural influence. The high waist obeys the rule of thirds and the skirt falls to a great midi length. The drama is focused on the back which is cut in a deep low square.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Kin Limited Edition Pleat Backless Dress

This is a great take on the column dress, perfect for women with a straight figure. If I was still at Selfridges and using high end fashion speak, I would be pointing out the vertical switch of texture from what appears to be crepe to a softly draping satin making a statement about the two sides of a woman (you see, I’ve still got it)!

Black Tie for Women over 40

Kin Limited Edition Ruched Neck Dress

Getting into my stride now (and no I haven’t swallowed a press release, writing like this used to be my day job)…

.. I would say that this simple dress echoes a Roman palla (similar to a toga) but the students have created dissonance by presenting it in unexpected black. I love the way they’ve styled the strap of the bag around the wrist which is reminiscent of Roman leather jewellery, you might struggle to wear it like that for a whole evening though!

Black Tie for Women over 40

One Sleeve Oversized Dress

The final style in black is this one, it isn’t my personal favourite but I know women who would look great in it – it would be a simple desk to dinner option if you added statement earrings and an architectural bangle from somewhere like Cos.

Black Tie for Women over 40

Asymmetric drape dress

There is also a small collection of dresses with pattern. As you know I never wear pattern but I can appreciate the artistry behind the colour blocking on these, especially when it is combined with pleating on the right.

You can find these along with a few separates here.

So, I hope that’s got you thinking in preparation for party season. I really like this move away from the party dressing that we’ve all been doing for the past few years. I’m a bit tired of lace. There is still a definite party mood to come but it is focusing more on texture with lots of sumptuous velvet and brocade in deep rich colours. An age of elegance is dawning which is great for all women over 40 because we can pull it off so well. There’s a lot to look forward to, I promise.

International Delivery

I’m so sorry – I completely forgot to add this to my last post. I’ve added links for products that can be bought overseas above. International delivery details for John Lewis are here; Finery is here and Eternal Collection is here.

Disclaimer: thank you to Bombshell for the jersey top that I wore in this ‘Black Tie for Women over 40’ post

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