St David’s shopping centre Cardiff challenge‏

Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Gifts, food and parties can all add up quickly without leaving much to spend on a fabulous festive outfit. Nightmare.

Fortunately, the lovely team at St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff understood this dilemma and presented me with a challenge: to create and style the perfect Christmas outfit from the centre for under £100.

Seeing as I’ve bought dresses for £100 each in the past, I can see why it was called a challenge. But, shopping is my forté, how hard could it be? The answer was, very. While it was fairly easy to pick up a dress for less than £50, it was hard to find a cover up, shoes and accessories and stay within budget. I wanted a black fur gilet to pair with the dress but I couldn’t find one for less than £40. Shoes were also tricky because I have tiny feet and struggle to find shoes that fit – I usually order from extra small ranges online.

Despite these difficulties, I managed to create a look that I think is great for Yuletide fun.

A girl wearing a River Island dress, New Look faux feather collar and New Look ankle boots
Dress, £40, River Island.
Fur feather collar, £12.99, New Look.
Boots, £27.99, New Look.
Earrings, £1.50 (part of a multi-pack), Primark.
Bag, £10, Peacocks

I opted for this silver snake print bodycon dress from River Island, which was £40. It fitted me well and looked super flattering on. I love dresses with long sleeves as they’re smart and appropriate for more formal occasions like the office party or a family dinner. However, the sparkly snake print will ensure that I stand out when it’s time to hit the dance floor.

As the dress was glitzy enough, I didn’t feel the need for much jewellery – just a small pair of studs which were part of a multi-pack from Primark for £1.50. However, the outfit still needed a few accessories. This fur feather collar from New Look was ideal for adding a touch of sophistication without overdoing it. And for £12.99, I will get plenty of wear out of it over the winter months. Shoes trends come and go but chunky block heel ankle boots are always on my agenda. I snapped these ankle boots from New Look for £27.99. They’re stylish, versatile and look edgier than stilettos. Above all, they’re comfortable. I don’t want the girls to out dance me after a few tipples and I certainly don’t want to be hobbling out of the bar at the end of the night.

No party outfit is complete without a bag and this asymmetrical panel clutch from Peacocks is bang on trend. The flap features a snakeskin effect and python trim with a gold asymmetric bar. Its gold cross body chain is cool and practical and the interior zip pocket is perfect for storing my phone and credit cards. A great value buy at £10.

The whole outfit came to £92.48, meaning that I had some money left over for a coffee and a cake to revitalise myself after an afternoon of bargain hunting!

My top tips for creating a party look on a budget:

1. Find a dress which does all the talking, such as an embellished or sequinned number. This means you won’t need to splash out on pricey accessories, keep them simple.

2. Or do the opposite and go for a basic dress, which you can jazz up with a statement necklace.

3. Instead of buying different pairs of shoes to wear with each outfit, buy one classic pair which will be suitable for every situation. That’s why I think ankle boots are perfect – you can wear them for a night at the local pub, an office party, a restaurant meal or a night out on the town.

4. Pretty patterned tights, false eyelashes and metallic nail polish are all brilliant but cheap ways to add glamorous touches to your look without breaking the bank.

5. Need to look chic in a flash? Team a topknot with a pair of trophy earrings and a slick of lipstick, shades of oxblood are hot this season. Now where’s that mistletoe?


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