Party pieces

PUBLISHED: 12:45 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:27 20 February 2013

Evening wear

Evening wear

Short, long, in-between... you can go to great lengths to party this Christmas

Short, long, in-between... you can go to great lengths to party this Christmas

Festive eveningwear collections are making a considerable shift with far more for the younger set. In fact, many of the styles coming through this season could be straight off the set of Sex and the City.
Some designers are veering towards prom frock looks with shorter and more revealing designs, rather than the sweeping, floor-length gowns once the norm for after-eight wears.
Prom dresses have become a huge story for high street chain stores and designer labels, giving the younger generation a taste for glamour over grunge so there are of plenty of flirty, feminine frocks for Christmas and New Year parties. Just add killer heels and a clutch bag to wrap up the look.
However, there are still plenty of occasions when a conversation-stopping gown is the ultimate apparel for a Christmas dinner dance or ball, irrespective of the wearer's age.
This season's collections are simply oozing with sex appeal, glamour and everything else thrown into the melting pot. Frank Usher, John Charles, Bernshaw and After Six are among the front-runners in producing simply gorgeous frocks we'll all be longing to wear.
The brands, and many others, are offering an unparalleled choice of floor-sweeping dresses in slinky silk, jersey, organza and lots of other luxurious fabrics. Lace is really in vogue too, while taffeta and chiffon create that sensual feeling at Christmas.
On the colour scene, purple is big, big news, not forgetting festive favourites like pillar box red, peacock, pristine white, silver and classic black and cream.
Black, of course, is around in all manner of styles, whether it's the quintessential Little Black Dress (a girl's best friend, again irrespective of age) or an Oscars-style gown.

Bows have proved to be a popular detail among designers, who have added them to empire line dresses, while ruffles, feathers, pleats and oodles of sequins and jewels are among the other fine features.
June Poster, director of the Frank Usher Group, sums up the season's eveningwear scene with the words - "glamorous, couture, red carpet and classic."
On the colour front, purple is the key to the season, she confirms. Plums, muted berry tones and other indulgent variations of the shade are popular choices for the colour palette in many of the collections.
"Fuchsia, hot pinks and cerise are also very on-trend for winter, but even so, the collections haven't forgotten the trusty and timeless Little Black Dress. It's an essential for any wardrobe. Fabrics for eveningwear and party wear are floaty and feminine, so think chiffon, satin and silk," says June.
Collections from the Frank Usher Group, for example, offer a mouth-watering selection of long and shorter length gowns and dresses to suit all ages.
"The essence of our eveningwear is glamorous couture at realistic prices," June explains. "The dresses embody the group's classic elegance.
Our younger range, Dusk at Frank Usher, has some wonderful mid-priced gowns which are also stunning. We've used rich colours such as peacock and fuchsia. The clever use of jewelling and cut has ensured that this is one of our most covetable eveningwear collections yet."
The new eveningwear scene sees lots of embellishments and exquisite detailing to keep classic designs fresh. June says: "High halter neck-style collars on dresses and low backs are also very chic for this season.
"Empire lines are everywhere and lots of collections have a touch of Grecian inspiration. Sequinned boleros are also trendy and perfect for glamming up a more muted dress or covering up against the cold, but keeping the stylish theme running through your party outfit."
And talking about the long gown v. short dress debate, she adds: "The key designs for winter certainly seem to be 50:50 for both. If you look at the trends on the red carpet, you'll find that dresses range from full-length gowns to knee-sweeping cocktail dresses. But one thing you will find they have in common is glamour, regardless of the length."
Prices are approximate and the clothes featured are subject to availability. For more details contact or stockists.

Shropshire stockists include:

Carol Grant, Shrewsbury - 01743 368182; Osborne Kellard, Newport - 01952 820205.

Majors, Shrewsbury - 01743 232229; Out of Town, Oswestry - 01691 670288.

John Charles
The Changing Room, Much Wenlock - 01952 727252.

Top Totty, Cleobury Mortimer - 01299 270457; The Changing Room, Much Wenlock - 01952 727252; Renaissance, Newport - 01952 814631; Out of Town, Oswestry - 01691 670288.

Frank Usher
Top Totty, Cleobury Mortimer - 01299 270457; The Changing Room, Much Wenlock - 01952 727252; Renaissance, Newport - 01952 814631; Out of Town, Oswestry - 01691 670288.

Michel Ambers
Out of Town, Oswestry - 01691 670288; Renaissance, Newport - 01952 814631.

The Dresser, Shrewsbury - 01743 354411.

Gold by Michael H
Out of Town, Oswestry - 01691 670288.

Jaeger, Shrewsbury - 01743 231635.

Joseph Ribkoff
Out of Town, Oswestry - 01691 670288; Jane Dyas, Shrewsbury - 01743 362644.

Shropshire Shop Talk (Nov)

Shops: Out of Town, 4 Upper Brook Street, Oswestry
Tel: 01691 670288.
Fab Feet, 6 Upper Brook Street, Oswestry
Tel: 01691 655622

Owner: Jeni Pearce

Who do you cater for?
We cater for all ages of customers from around 18 through to 80. Our customer base is reflected in our size range which is eight to 22. We're in a border market town. We have clients from a very wide radius including north and mid-Wales, Cheshire, the Midlands, Cambridge, Lancashire, Worcester, Hereford and, of course, Shropshire.

What distinguishes your business and how do you care for customers?
At Out of Town and Fab Feet, we aim to offer a personal, friendly, professional and, above all, an honest service. We listen to our customer requests and provide the best service we can, whether they're looking for a little top to refresh a pair of black trousers, casual weekend clothes or a full outfit for the mother-of-the-bride with matching shoes, handbag and hat.

Do you stock many labels?
More than 20 fashion labels at Out of Town. Because we are very diverse and are all things to all ladies, we carry a large and extensive stock. The collections at Out of Town include Passport, Olsen, Fenn Wright Manson, Lisa Campione, Steilmann, Gold, Libra, Michel Ambers, Frank Usher, Coterie, Tom Bowker, Condici, Dusk and Joseph Ribkoff. At Fab Feet, our labels include Lisa Kay, Capollini, Dents and many more. I am constantly sourcing new lines and merchandise for our comprehensive collections.

What are the must-have buys in party and eveningwear this season?
A dress worn with peep-toe shoes.

Which styles and colours are popular in party/eveningwear?
The colour palette has purples, red, metallics and, as always, black. Popular styles include halter neck dresses and Grecian-style designs. There are a lot of embellishments on the waistline and under the bust this season.

Describe your favourite party or eveningwear outfit from the autumn winter collections.
We now stock Joseph Ribkoff fashions, a new label for us this season. I think the pewter metallic dress from the Ribkoff collection does it all. The fit is fabulous, it works well for all sizes, it oozes glamour and it would take a shrug if cover for the arms is needed. The price is just £199.

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