Three Reasons not to go on ‘The Perfect Ball Dress’ Hunt this Year

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It’s that time of the year again! Whether it’s from your school, society or accommodation- you’ve probably received a ball invitation. With this exciting period comes the fateful question: What am I going to wear?

The endless website scrolling begins and before you know it, you find yourself caught up between the desire to place your order and the guilt of knowing that you already own a garment worthy of another outing. Yet, wearing an item of clothing that you have already displayed is troublesome. Is it the fear that people will realise and judge? Or worse, the sentiment of déjà-vu that it triggers? I can’t help but wonder, if it is ok to repeat a pair of Levi’s, why should gowns be any different? Here are three alternatives to going on the customary ‘perfect dress’ hunt this year:

1. Layering

Turtlenecks underneath sleeveless dresses are proof that layering is quite the trend. I first adopted this technique as a consequence of the Siberian weather of Northern England. Quickly, it made me come to the realisation that there is more to an outfit than the main piece. Paradoxically, the potential of a garment can often be revealed when it’s half-hidden. Close your eyes and picture a jumper over a collared shirt, can you see how great it looks? Layering items means mixing patterns, materials and colours, which opens up the door to a whole new dimension of what an outfit can be. So, you might ask, what does layering mean for ball dressing? If your outfit consists of eccentric sleeves, add a sleeveless sparkly pullover on top. If it’s a mini dress, wear printed flares under it. You get the idea. Any quirky piece of this kind will do the job.

credit: Anouk Sarfati

2. Thrift shopping

I have never been a fan of thrift shops. I find them dark and messy. Clothes form heaps the size of mountains, and, as a small person who climbs on the kitchen counter to reach the cereal, I am usually out of my element. However, thrift shops can serve a purpose, especially when one is not looking for something too specific. When entering the thrift shop, don’t hope for the perfect dress, but rather look for a unique piece of the variety I mentioned earlier. Think about it, if you buy your umpteenth ball dress, you will be stuck with one more show-stopper impossible to pull off at a lecture. Whereas, if you find an unconventional piece with the superpower to turn average outfits into gold, you’ll kill two birds with one stone- you get a gorgeous ball outfit and a Monday morning saviour to your unpleasant library dates.

Anouk Safarti considers some alternatives to buying yet another Christmas or NY party outfit this year.

3. If an outfit is good, wear it again!

Third option: re-wear the outfit exactly the same way you did at your last reception. If an outfit is successful, the least you can do is have the decency to let the world see it once again! It’s as simple as that!

If your mind is still wandering to Zara’s new range, give me one more chance to convince you.  Exploring different combinations and jazzing up your old standbys is braver than going for a ‘ready to wear’ outfit, even if it means sometimes making mistakes. What are we supposed to do with all the ball dresses that we refuse to re-wear? Leave them to sit in our closets eternally? How sad! Fashion is about exploration. It is about getting to know yourself through the items you have bought. So when you receive your ball invitation this year and that critical question is upon you, you know what to do…

Anouk Sarfati