Well hello everybody and happy November. There’s no avoiding it any longer, we’re on the Christmas countdown. I’m diving in head first with another party dressing feature (there will be a few). This time we’re looking at what to wear for a formal party.

So let me give you a bit of background. We’ve had a ‘save the date’ in our diary for a long time. A client who has become a friend is having a special celebration in a country house. I had been happily planning to wear my Finery skirt and Bombshell top but when the official invitation arrived, the dress code specified ‘sparkle and shine.’ Although I have plenty of shiny sequin tops to wear with jeans, this is going to be a dressy occasion so I needed to think again and one website sprang to mind – Lux Fix.

I first discovered Lux Fix when my friend Michelle at RetroChicMama planned a very chic wedding outfit from them. I met up with one of the owners in the Summer and instantly warmed to the brand because, once more, it is run by 2 women like us who are risking it all to follow their dreams.

Their website is host to a number of small, independent designers and in addition to eveningwear, they also do workwear, accessories and shoes. They cover the full spectrum of sizes which varies according to the designer but ranges roughly from a size 8 to a size 22. Their focus is on women who want to celebrate their shape so you won’t find many column dresses or angular shapes. Instead they aim to flatter the female form.

Our party isn’t until the beginning of December but by then, it will be too dark for photos and not much help for you if you’re looking for a dress. Now I’m aware that the cool way to style a party dress this season is to dress it down with a leather biker jacket. That might look great for a London bar but the party we are going to will be traditional so I need a more classic look. I already had this cape from last Winter but I’ve tracked it down here. It’s great for wearing with dresses but I also bring it out with jeans and sparkly shoes at Christmas for relaxed nights out.

what to wear for a formal party

I wanted to let the dress that I’d chosen speak for itself so I didn’t wear a necklace but I added a pair of vintage clip on earrings that my mum passed on to me when I was at university. I’ve no idea how old they are.


My shoes are from Boden last year and my bag is a classic Whistles clutch which you often see me use. I think they’re great value for money because they work just as well with jeans as they do with a dress like this.

Nikki Garnett

Moving on to the dress itself, it is made by Gina Bacconi who are known for mother of the bride clothing but also have a good range of eveningwear. I was a bit worried when I unwrapped it because it is shorter than I normally wear. However because it has sleeves and a higher neckline it works well. It would look frumpy if it came below the knee.

what to wear for a formal party

The sequins dip lower at the back than the front. This soft detail at the waistline saves your body from being chopped in half at the unflattering point above your hips.

what to wear for a formal party

The skirt of the dress is made from a silky jersey which is great because it stretches – as you know, I like to be able to eat when I go out. I don’t think bare legs are quite right for a formal event, especially with a dress that is above the knee. Of course now that Alexa Chung has appeared in an evening dress wearing 15 denier barely blacks, even Grazia has declared that non opaques are cool. Because the fabric is so fine, you need to choose tights over stockings.

When you are buying flesh toned hosiery, it’s worth investing in good quality to avoid the ‘nana factor’ (as my Geordie sisters-in-law would call it). Admittedly when I bought the ones I’m wearing I was in a hurry in London a while ago and I blanched at the price when I was at the till. However they seem to be indestructible. I caught them on the glitter on my shoes when I crossed my legs but they didn’t pull or ladder.


If you’re wondering why I’m laughing, we had yet another of our wildlife intervals when a flush of ducks decided to come and see what was going on…

Nikki Garnett

…of course they weren’t remotely interested when they realised that there was no bread on offer.


The last area for concern with the dress was whether it would rise to mid thigh when seated. I am slightly scarred by the memory of a very uncomfortable day I spent at a wedding wearing a silk LK Bennett dress that left nothing to be desired whenever I sat down. Fortunately because this is jersey, it is more forgiving.

what to wear for a formal party

So, my dress is fully road tested. Now all we have to do is look forward to the evening itself as I can’t imagine that Mr MC is worrying about what to wear. Do have a look at Lux Fix. It’s good to support a small brand that is helping even smaller brands and you will certainly find something a little different from the usual high street offer. One thing to bear in mind though – the styling on some of the shots is a little “French Boudoir.” I found myself squinting slightly, trying to imagine the dresses on a different model. I suspect that it is a Shoreditch look which is where a lot of the designers are based.

International Delivery

Lux Fix offer free delivery in the UK and they also deliver internationally.

Midlife lately – London with teenagers

We had a very busy, fun packed time in London last week. We travelled down to our lovely AirBnB which was in Hackney on Sunday, meeting up with my brother and his family for supper in a ‘happening’ Hackney pub.

Monday was Hallowe’en so we took the boys to the London Bridge Experience which they loved. It was cleverly done as you were guided by actors who interspersed the history of the bridge with spooky stories. Culture by stealth is always a good thing. It ended with a scary walk through dark enclosed spaces and things that jumped out at you from nowhere. Here’s our Hallowe’en shot.

London with teenagers

Borough Market was conveniently close by for lunch choices that kept everyone happy

London with teenagers

We sat by the river, Pokemon hunting for a while. There was a special release of Pokemon characters for Hallowe’en and, as you know, you “gotta catch ’em all” (so sorry, I couldn’t resist).


We went into Tate Modern and found the boys’ favourite ever art installation which involved lying on the floor…

London with teenagers

…and watching a series of weights and pulleys that were suspended above…(yes I know the boys are face down – I consoled myself with the fact that they could still hear the sounds)!

London with teenagers

From there we walked across the Millennium Bridge and on to Covent Garden where I had reserved tickets to see Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at The Theatre Royal. What a fabulous musical it is. I watched as the boys faces changed from an attitude of tolerance for their mum’s insistence on booking something that was, obviously, far too young for them to an expression of wonder. It’s in its last year so if you haven’t already been, do go and see it.


On Tuesday I began the day with Fabz at George Northwood and we embarked on a plan to let my hair grow to shoulder length. We both suspect I will lose patience with it but let’s see. My expensive blow dry was then caught in the rain. Just my luck as I was going to take part in a Jaeger Instagram campaign, along with a number of other bloggers, to celebrate the launch of their new store on Marylebone High Street. As you may already have seen, I started off with a classic camel coat


…and ended up in a bright red après ski cocoon number which is really hard to photograph but is amazing in real life.


We spent our last afternoon at an East London board game café called Draughts. It’s a great place with simple food and over 500 board games. You tell the games master which games you already love (not easy because we all have drastically different favourites in our family) and he will recommend something new. We discovered Ticket to Ride which somebody (was it you Fee) told me about in the comments ages ago. We loved it.

London with teenagers

Since then we’ve had the eldest and his girlfriend home for bonfire night which is always spectacular in our village. We made pumpkin soup and lots of bonfire toffee…

London with teenagers

… and here I am, back at work, not rested but happy!

Moving into Beauty

Thank you for all of your feedback on the poll that accompanied the Claudia Bradby competition. There were two areas that you were clearly interested in, one was beauty, the other was ‘menopause and ageing well.’

‘Menopause and ageing well’ will take a bit of time to develop but I’m thinking about the best way to approach it. In the meantime I am going to start with monthly beauty posts. I will only talk about products that I have reviewed for at least 4 weeks and I will only include products that make a definite difference.

I have just one product to recommend so far and it is the REN Glycolactic Radiance Mask. I first tried this when I was given a sample last Christmas and REN then sent me a full size to review. What does it do? You use it as a mask, leaving it on for 10 minutes. It has an immediate effect, perking up your skin as soon as you use it. I found my skin was instantly brighter, softer and tighter. I can’t say whether it has had a long term effect on my skin because I am also using my Skinceuticals products which are still going after 9 months. However I now use the radiance mask whenever I need an instant lift for an evening out.

Midlifechic beauty

I am currently trialling this Radiance Collection from Beauty Expert. I was never very excited by beauty boxes, it always seemed crazy to pay for companies to send you tiny sachets of product. However Beauty Expert are launching a series of special collections that contain full sized products.

This pack has 6 radiance promising products that would usually retail for over £200 for only £50. I am working through them gradually and will let you know what I think at the end of the month. Use code BENDD for free delivery. Beauty Expert have 15% off at the moment if you use code 8WEEKS but it excludes this collection which is already great value.

midlifechic beauty

Phew – that’s been a long post – there was so much to tell you. The last thing is the redraw for the Claudia Bradby necklace. Caroline Coxon – you are the new winner. I have emailed you directly, all I need is for you to reply with your address so that we can send you the necklace.

Have a great week everyone, I’ll be back on Friday with more Christmas sparkle and shine. In the meantime I want to say “Good Luck America” on this historic day. I hope you get a good result.

Disclosure: thank you to Lux Fix for allowing me to choose a dress from their vast selection. Beauty reviews will sometimes include PR samples. As always though, I will only write about companies and products that I believe to be good.

Autumn / Winter Style Posts

Casual outfits of the week

The process of learning which colours suit you

Doing Black Tie differently

Using accessories to update your outfits – bags and jewellery

Using accessories to update your outfits – shoes and boots

Dressing in Hush from week to weekend

Reviewing cashmere on the high street

Women over 40 styling Marks & Spencer

Women over 40 styling Winser London

What I’ve been buying from Finery

Looking at Boden

Leopardskin ankle boots

Hope fashion – the new collection

Everything you ever needed to know about fragranced candles