Get inspired by…’Playing dress up’


Cocktail dresses

Many of you are about to embark on your first week of your first term of your first year at Oxford.  How many ‘black tie’ events have you been to so far?  How many times have you had to find something suitable to ‘dress up’ in?  For boys it’s simple, they rarely need to deviate from their standard suit.  For girls, it’s a little more challenging.  Some of you will love such occasions, revelling in the whole process – the make up, the hair, the shoes and the dress.  Others will despise it, seeing it as nothing more than an infuriating and frivolous excuse to waste time and money on your appearance.  Well, whether you love or hate them, let me assure you – in your time at Oxford, you will attend far more events carrying the ‘black tie’ label than you care to consider.  Be prepared.

So you may ask, what should I wear?  Unlike many parts of the UK ‘black tie’ doesn’t necessarily mean put on your shortest dress, your highest heels and slather yourself in fake tan.  In Oxford the dress code tends towards the ‘less is more’ approach.

As a fresher, a few cocktail dress options would be worth investing in.  A simple style like the fail-safe LBD would suffice in virtually any Oxford ‘black tie’ event and carry you from one term to the next.  If you want it to be a little more striking, look for one with some unusual detail – maybe embellishment, an interesting cut-out or a pop of colour.

Casual events are when you can have more fun with what you wear.  Body cons are always a popular choice and a playful pattern, conspicuous cut or a vivid colour add eye-catching detail.  If it’s a more festive occasion, go for a luxurious piece, something with a touch of glitter and sparkle – sequins especially, always work well.

Events like parents’ and tutor dinners;  these  call for a piece more demure and understated.  Something a little looser and more modest tends to be suitable, with lace and chiffon being both flattering and reliable fabrics.  In terms of the colour, a more muted shade is a safer option.

Once you’ve got the dress sorted, complement it with a great pair of heels (and perhaps some flats tucked in your bag for later) and most importantly of all; enjoy the evening. Then get ready to embrace a hell of a lot more.


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