I encourage women to have a wardrobe that is practical, and that suits their climate, lifestyle and environment. I warn against the dangers of shopping for an imaginary lifestyle because that’s when you fill your closet with orphans, feeling like you have nothing to wear despite a cupboard full of clothes, footwear and accessories. 

But there’s an exception to the rule of only purchasing for the needs you know about. I believe it is a good idea to have at least one outfit hanging in your wardrobe as a fast fallback option for a formal or dressy occasion. That way it’s ready to wear whenever the occasion arises. No need to scramble at the last minute trying to put together a more formal outfit, perhaps ending up with something that isn’t ideal because you ran out of time and had to settle.

There is no need to go on a major shopping expedition and spend loads of money on a formal wear capsule. I’m talking more along the lines of scouring the formal wear sale rails when you’re already out shopping and in the zone. Try on those cocktail frocks, dressy separates and fancy shoes too. If you happen upon a killer look at a reasonable price, snap up the items straight away. Pop them into your closet and voila! You have a stress-free fast fallback outfit for a very dressy occasion.

So the trick is to find an outfit that covers a range of dressy occasions, be it a wedding, theatre night, a cocktail event, a fund raising event, a work soiree, a very fancy dinner or a Christmas party. Look for a fairly versatile, seasonless outfit that you can dress up or down with footwear and accessories. Stay away from anything overly trendy so that it has a longer shelf life. Perhaps it’s a little black, blue, purple grey or red dress in your best silhouette. Perhaps it’s a lace skirt and tuxedo jacket. Perhaps it’s a beaded topper with satin cigarette trousers. A dress with subtle sparkle. Sequined trousers with a silky blouse. Or a lace sheath with satin trench coat.

On recent shopping trips with clients, we’ve been fitting on and purchasing a lot more formal wear than we used to precisely for the abovementioned reason. As hard as it is to spend the money on something that you have no intention of wearing in the near future, you’ll be thankful to have prevented the outfit stress when that super dressy occasion pops up on your calendar.