What to wear to a party when you don’t do dresses

Not a frock kind of person? Not a problem. Frankie Graddon introduces us to party jeans

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By Frankie Graddon on

As we’ve already established, I have issues when it comes to dressing up. Which is, of course, problematic at this time of the year. To deal with this, I have explored several avenues in the smart/casual genre. In past years, I have extolled the virtues of disco jumpers, jazzy socks and cocktail trainers and, this season, I have a new discovery to add to the pot: introducing the party jean.

This year has undoubtedly been the year of the bonkers jean. They’ve been ripped, zipped, splattered with mud and hardly there at all (need I remind you of the “thong jean” debut back in October?). And, as a rule, I’m not a fan of messing with what is a bonafide classic but, when it comes to party jeans, I’m fully sold up. And, to clarify, I’m talking about jeans scattered in pearls, sequins, gems and – why not? – ruffles.

Remember those rhinestone boot-cuts beloved by Britney in the early noughties? I don’t mean those. 2017’s party jeans have an entirely more sophisticated feel


Like many women I know, jeans are my comfort blanket. And, like many women I know, I have more pairs than I care to think about. “If in doubt, wear a pair of jeans” is my motto and, at this time of the year, I tend to be in quite a lot of doubt (if you missed last week’s column, I have huge fashion anxiety about turning up to something overdressed); which means that my new find could not be more useful, treading the line between low-key familiarity and festive sparkle.

Remember those rhinestone boot-cuts beloved by Britney in the early noughties? I don’t mean those. 2017’s party jeans have an entirely more sophisticated feel. My party-jean hero is Olivia Palermo in her feathered-hem blue jeans worn with a plain grey jumper (yes!), some nice earrings and a pair of high heels for good measure. Or, the above pearly cropped jeans worn with a white shirt and fun coat. Both relatively easy outfits that could past muster at a fancy dinner, but wouldn’t look ridiculous in the pub.

I am not alone in my jazzy-jean love-in. It has been declared by planet fashion that jeans and a posh top is *the* party outfit of Christmas 17 – see Saint Laurent A/W. But I’m eschewing the sequin halterneck and letting my jeans take centre stage, so to speak. A plain white or grey T-shirt is a no-brainer – stick a blazer/tux jacket over the top. You’ll never go wrong with a silky shirt; tuck it in and add a belt. My personal preference is a giant, snuggly jumper – ideally a roll neck. Tuck the front into your waistband and let the rest hang loose. There’s something wonderfully nonchalant (not to mention wonderfully warm) about the whole thing. Add earrings and shoes (ankle boots, heels or flats all work) et voilà.

In terms of where to find a pair, you’ll want to have a look at Zara, which positively owns the party-jean category. My favourites are the blue jeans with side frill and the high-waisted black jeans with red velvet side stripe. If you fancy a bit of bling (sorry for using the word “bling”), then H&M’s dark denim beaded jeans are a winner – although I have a suspicion that they are a handwash type affair. More subtle are Anthropologie’s black Pilcro jeans, which have just a delicate frosting of crystals around the hem. I’d strongly advise looking for styles that keep embellishment at the front – no one wants to spend the night with a plastic pearl up their bum.

Click here for the best party jeans on the high street



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