How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Time for a POW dress That’s Party Or Wedding

  • Shane Watson shares advice on choosing the best dresses for weddings 
  • UK-based fashion expert says hello to bold prints and bright colours 
  • She says that the object is not to dress for the occasion, it’s to get noticed

Never mind parties and weddings. In real life I have noticed that my girlfriends are turning up to drink wine in the kitchen on a Friday night wearing bright green silk shirts and red boots. 

On an ordinary, nothing-to-celebrate evening, they might bounce through the door in a coat like a Kandinsky painting and dangly bead earrings. These are low-maintenance women whose primary goal is never to look overdressed, only now, suddenly, they are (gulp) Dressing Up, something we never did unless the occasion demanded it. 

My point is, if kitchen suppers have become an excuse to crank up the fashion gears (I’ve taken to wearing platform sandals), when it comes to summer weddings and all those rebooted parties, we can assume it’s going to be full throttle. Goodbye apricoty floral dress, hello bold prints, bright colours, statement coats and then a colour clash bag or shoes, or both. 

The object is not to dress for the occasion (very pre-2020), it’s to get noticed. Here’s how you do it 2022 style. 

Shane Watson shares advice on choosing the best dresses for weddings. UK-based fashion expert says hello to bold prints and bright colours. Pictured: Jourdan Dunn

Grab a POW coat 

POW — as in Parties Or Weddings, but also knock out, different and, unlike all your other winter coats, the scene stealing main event. We’re talking bold prints with sequin trims such as Zara’s rose print coat (£259, zara.com) or a double-print whammy like Max Mara Weekend’s half check, half floral number (£395, johnlewis.com). 

You could wear this with an emerald green dress underneath, it doesn’t matter, it’s the coat that’s the story here. Note: On a cool day you can still wear wool and there are great coats with faux fur lapel trims around for summer, including Zara’s wrap coat in sky blue (£159). 

Get a printed dress 


Left: Paris Hilton pictured in a stunning polka dot dress with bold silver bow detail. Right: Scarlett Johansson in a textured colourful number 

With so many floral dresses around, the POW dress needs to be extra impactful — and that means a bold print (not a ditsy little floral), bright colour, or both. Boden has some striking print maxis, including the hot pink and jade ‘wild bloom’ and its ‘enchanting peacock’ print jersey wrap (£140 and £110, boden.com). 

Steer clear of tropical prints — holidays only — and then step up the reactor power with a colour pop bag and shoes. 

No black handbags 

Not on POW time! They’ll dilute the impact of your fabulous coat/dress/whatever and this is no time to pass up the juicy colour pop opportunities accessories bring. 

Get a glossy, bright bag (£160, essentiel-antwerp.com) and some staggering (though not stagger in) shoes. Admittedly these are pretty high, but I’m drooling after LK Bennett’s Gigi scarlet slingbacks (£279, lkbennett.com). A shiny red shoe works with all your bright clothes — accessories are now meant to stand out and clash. 

OCCASIONWEAR: THE NEW RULES 

  • Get bright shoes
  • Try a bold print coat
  • Longer hems add drama 
  • Clash your bag 

Go long 

Long — and long in 2022 means an inch above the ankle so you can see your cracking shoes — is automatically more of a statement and looks elegant, providing you keep it leanish; nothing tenty, tiered or floaty. LK Bennett does a shiny dream of a long dress with a high neck and cape sleeves that’s a bit 1970s (£499). After something cheaper? Mango has a satin dress in black you could wear almost anywhere (£59.99, shopmango.com).

Think daring 

Not as in reveal a sliver of tummy (don’t do that), but wear something dramatic and film starry. Me+Em says lots of customers are buying its scarlet and pink palazzo jumpsuit (£275, meandem.com) to wear to weddings. Note the colour clash and the swishy wide-legged tailored cut; not that many jumpsuits make suitable wedding attire. 

Turn heads 

It used to be that the woman at the wedding you most admired was the one in the sleek polka dot dress. Not this season. Now your money is on the head-turners who look like they’re having the time of their lives. We’re talking feather, fur trims and shimmery fabrics. 

Essentiel Antwerp’s cape sleeved long dress has sold out in turquoise but not yet in red (£390). 

As for hats, these are bolder and bigger — no one is wearing a sensible navy straw number — but you’d already guessed that. 

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