Although I am currently enjoying the sunny skies of Marrakech, I’ve been working on Christmas for a while. Can you believe that I had to put some of our Christmas lights and a Christmas tree up in our house at the beginning of October? All I could think about were the problems it would have caused if the boys were still little! However, now that we’re into November it feels like it’s time to talk about partywear. I’m going to be doing a few different features but I’m kicking off with a party dressing project that I was recently set by JDWilliams.

As you know, I have been working with five other bloggers as a member of their Colour Council, writing features for their website and magazines. Every so often they give one of us a specific project. Some of the others were given coats or knitwear so I was particularly chuffed when my brief was partywear.  The way it works is that they send a box full of samples for you to play around with. It’s like having a dressing up box again and I felt about seven years old when I was doing this.

The thing that I like about working with JD Williams is that they respect your individual style and understand that you won’t feature everything. They briefed me to create three outfits: one for a New Year’s Eve house party, one for a cocktail party and one for an office party. In the end there were two others I liked so I shot those too. Let me show you.

New Year’s Eve House Party

So, if I’m going to a party at a friend’s house it tends to be quite relaxed but I still like to add a bit of sparkle. I’m trying hard not to wear too much black because I just don’t have strong enough colouring to carry it off well. Here I lifted JD Williams’ tuxedo style jacket by adding shades of bronze.

party dressing project

Tuxedo jacket; Bronze camisole (also available in black or blush pink); Bronze metallic jeans; Heels; Velvet glitter clutch

The tuxedo is cut in this season’s much looser fit so it is longer and boxier than a classic tailored jacket. This means that it balances the skinny jeans out well. It also has gathered sleeves so you have the ‘pushed up sleeve’ effect without constantly having to readjust them. This helps to counterbalance the boxy shape too because it reveals slender wrists.

I know I’ve been saying that skinny jeans are over but I do think they still work for evenings in a luxe finish – metallic, velvet, leather… These bronze metallic jeans are very stretchy and high rise so they are comfortable to wear. Also available in gold or black, they’re very reasonably priced so even though you will probably only use them a few times a year, it works out on a cost per wear basis.

Metallic coated jeans, tuxedo jacket

Tuxedo jacket; Bronze camisole (also available in black or blush pink); Bronze metallic jeans; Heels; Velvet glitter clutch

Office party

Our office parties tend to be intimate relaxed affairs so I don’t have to think too hard about what to wear. However long term readers will remember my shock two years ago when I was working at the home fragrance company and ‘what to wear at the Christmas party’ became a water cooler issue that went on for weeks.

I find that I now opt for a jumpsuit when I’m going to a mixed age event. There’s something about them that is youthful so they’re an easy way to be on trend and yet still feel dressed up. This one is black but it has gold lurex woven into the cloth which sparkles. It is phenomenally comfortable and for everyone who tells me that they don’t like the tops of their arms or their neck – it has the answer built in!

Black glitter jumpsuit

Glitter jumpsuit; Rose gold sandals; Velvet glitter clutch

The choker is part of the outfit and fastens with a button. The sleeves drape across your upper arm and the waist is shirred. You could add a sparkly belt if you wanted to although I always think that a belt at the waist can add visual inches unless you are very slim. I really like the midi length which reveals your calf as it narrows.

The rose gold sandals are from JD Williams too. Sandals are often a good thing to pair with any kind of evening wear because they make the outfit look less heavy and these are fantastic value.


Glitter jumpsuit; Rose gold sandals; Velvet glitter clutch

Cocktail party

Now this dress didn’t look much when I unwrapped it but when I put it on, it made me feel like a mermaid. I actually think that the more curvy you are, the better this would look. I don’t know whether you can tell but the metallic fabric has a subtle shaded stripe which means it shimmers from silver to gold.


Metallic dressRose gold sandals; Black glitter clutch

We took these photos before a party that we went to recently and you can see our friends’ sons working away in the background because they were performing for us over dinner. Their usual mood is ‘gypsy punk’ but they played jazz for us on the night.

Evening dress for women over 40

Metallic dressRose gold sandals; Black glitter clutch

Formal dinner

And so much to our friends’ amusement, I decided to shoot the other two outfits that I liked whilst we were in an appropriate venue. We left them sitting in the bar, occasionally throwing ‘encouraging comments’ in my direction.

Formal party dress for women over 40

Chevron evening dressBlack glitter clutch

This is a really lovely dress and I can imagine that it is the sort of thing you would pack if you were spending Christmas at a hotel. The chevron pattern works as a trick of the eye to give you a more hourglass shape. It arrived with the sash tied to the front and it looks quite different if you wear it that way. I preferred it tied to the back so that it didn’t interfere with the pattern.

The bodice is made from jersey so it is comfortable and cool to wear and the dress swishes as you walk, making you feel like a princess. (You can see from this picture that I’ve just had one of those ‘encouraging comments’).


Chevron evening dressBlack glitter clutch

A Christmas Day dress

Now, as you know I have lost a bit of weight thanks to the GymCube programme that I have been following and the results are gradually beginning to show. All of the clothes in this shoot were a bit too big (apart from the jeans which were a 10). I think I got away with it in most of them but this sequinned dress is, in my opinion, a little too loose. I know because I wore it for the JD Williams shoot that we did in Manchester in August and it fitted like a glove as you can just about see here.

party dressing project

However in a way I quite like it like this. In fact I notice that they’ve styled it even looser in the pictures on their own site. I guess you just need to work out which look you prefer. My friends said that worn like this, it had something of the ‘flapper’ about it – it flips as you walk because of the side splits.

Cocktail dress for women over 40

Claret sequin dress (also available in gold); Rose gold sandals; Velvet glitter clutch

I love the way that the sequins catch the light from different sources when you are inside. In the end one of my friends was so taken with it that she nearly ended up wearing it for the party instead of the one she had brought with her.


Claret sequin dress (also available in gold); Rose gold sandals; Velvet glitter clutch

So, I hope you enjoyed that little dressing up session. I’ve said before that I think JD Williams is a brand to watch. They’re working hard on reinventing themselves – they have so many products in their collection that it isn’t going to happen overnight but there are some gems in there.

Their strategy of encouraging women to embrace the life they have is a really positive one. We’ve been working with them as mentors on a campaign called “don’t tell me I can’t” and each blogger has taken a different angle. Mine has been based around building a business and, if you’re interested, you can read one of my interviews here ‘don’t tell me I can’t start a business after having a baby.’

As you read this I should be travelling back from our little trip to Marrakech – if you want to see what we’ve been doing, pop over to my Instagram feed @midlifechic. After spending a few days in the sun I know I’m going to be hitting Christmas full on as I’m working at a John Lewis Christmas shopping evening next week. Here we go…!

Disclosure:  this ‘party dressing project’ post has been written as part of my ongoing work with JD Williams Colour Council. Each outfit was personally chosen, photographed and styled by me from their very wide selection.

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