Get in the exponent spirit – but leave the dress at home

Jess Cartner-Morley wears a tuxedo
‘Tuxedo styling is the easiest way to spoil trousers and a jacket into an evening look.’
Photograph: David Newby for the Trustee

I am not one of those women who doesn’t like party dresses. That is not what this column is wide. I sometimes think I would quite like to be that fount, because women who scoff at frocks seem terrifically cool, compared with my irredeemably basic instinct to start swooning exceeding black lace and velvet and cut-out shoulder details at the beginning whiff of mince pie season.

But even though I am a party rebuke person (if you opened my wardrobe before you met me, you would think I didn’t have on the agenda c trick a job) I don’t always want to wear a party dress to go out. There are some ceaselessly when a fancy frock feels absolutely right, as much an after-dark legendary as a straight-up martini. Other nights, the idea of putting a clothe on feels a bit office party. A bit Here Come The Girls after their pre-drinks in All Bar One. Not feeling that vibe so much.

And there are other ceaselessly when I’d be totally up for wearing a party dress, but the logistics aren’t justly. The impact of what you wear to a party on how good a time you oblige (which is the whole point, obviously) is 1% about how you look and 99% thither how you feel when you walk through the door. And I know that I bequeath feel 10 times more glamorous arriving in a dressed-up day apparatus and a normal handbag than I would wearing a proper frock but lug a lumpy tote bag stuffed with what I wore to manage.

Tuxedo styling is the easiest way to turn trousers and a jacket into an compensating look. If it’s dark and tailored with a satin stripe, it’s got after-dark viewpoint. It tends to work best with a bit of skin, but that doesn’t practice out a polo neck – just add a flash of ankle or a sleeve forced up to the elbow. There is no fuss, but plenty of drama, thanks to the tiny edge that you get from being a woman in mannish endue clothing – the pleasing unexpectedness of it.

I am not about to become the kind of killjoy who wastes to wear party dresses. But I can definitely see there is fun to be had without one.

Jess damages jacket, £198, and trousers, £128, both allsaints.com. Pink cami top, £120, by Raey from matchesfashion.com. Court shoes, £80, dunelondon.com

Approaching: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Laurence Close at Carol Hayes Directing