Party season: Rituals of getting dressed up

By Zoe Walker

Three stylish women talk about the rites and rituals of getting dressed up for the party season ahead.

Jacqui Ansin wears the Ketz-ke 'Spirit' dress, $199. Photo / Babiche Martens
Jacqui Ansin wears the Ketz-ke 'Spirit' dress, $199. Photo / Babiche Martens

CHARLOTTE RYAN
DJ, 95bFM

"I love parties, and any excuse to dress up so, if I can get away with it, I'll always wear a favourite, and preferably new, dress, red lipstick and best shoes which I prefer to be a heel. Working in the music industry, however, a lot of parties tend to be more low key and grungey, in which case I'd do all of the above but wear my Chucks "Some people have an addiction to shoes - I have an addiction to dresses. My favourite places to find them are from designers like Twenty-seven Names, Juliette Hogan, Kate Sylvester, Workshop, Helen Cherry, or if I have limited cash, ASOS or Topshop online. The dresses I love are often quite pretty, then I will grunge it up by wearing a leather jacket and boots or Chucks, and messy hair. Perhaps you'd describe it as sweet rock and roll.

"I love the buzz of excitement of being at work when there's a really great party happening straight after. Especially when others from the office are going as well; the anticipation can be dangerous.

I usually wear a dress that will last the distance - Juliette Hogan pleated dresses are a fave. I pair it with a cardigan during the day and a jacket and bright lipstick for night. I recently purchased some beautiful black H by Hudson boots from Workshop that have a great heel - not too tall - the perfect boots to take you through day to night. Also, it's not very rock and roll, but a packet of nuts in the handbag can help avoid any embarrassing messiness later in the night...

"Laneways is absolutely the highlight of summer. I work as their publicist and even though I don't get to see all the bands, you can't beat the party atmosphere. I also plan to host lots of dinner parties and long lunches in our new house this summer too.

"This year 95bFM is having its Christmas party at Cassette 9 - Deep Sea Arcade, Popstrangers and XURI XRUZ are playing. It's a cool time for listeners and staff to mingle, and listen to great music.

The most memorable summer party I've attended was the Festival Mushroom Records Christmas Party. The label was known for its great parties, and with artists such as The Mint Chicks, Chris Knox, The D4, The Phoenix Foundation, Dimmer and lots of artists from Flying Nun, as well as a bunch of fantastic staff who love music, you can imagine how many fun stories I have.

"Eleven years ago I was the brand manager for 95bFM and we organised a party called Oonst. The party used to be quite legendary, but the year I was involved I wanted it to stand out. It was at the St James, right throughout the venue over six "zones", and we decorated the whole venue - ivy going up the stairwell, huge big lions, red glazed apples, fake peacocks and lots of other fantastic props from First Scene. The party was so much fun and the decorations worked so well.

"I love garden parties my 4-year-old daughter can enjoy as much as I do. Bringing kids and yummy food together is one of my favourite things for summer.

"Christmas is always a very long lunch in our family. This year it will be my first beach Christmas - spending the week in the Coromandel - and hopefully I'm wearing something new Father Christmas bought me.

"New Year's Eve parties vary from year to year - I have no plans yet for this year. Last New Year's Eve I went to [photographer and stylist] Karen Inderbitzen Waller's legendary party at the Las Vegas Strip Club, it was lots of fun. Very gritty and grungy, so I wore my sister's gorgeous Jasper Conran leather jacket with a black dress."

BEC WILLIAMS
Sponsorship Manager, Westpac

"It's always nice to wear something special and new, so I treat myself with a couple of new party outfits at this time of year - but these are items I can usually adapt for work at a later time with a pared-down look. I'm a big fan of dresses as they are instant outfits, so it's likely to be a dress or two. "For special events I like to get my makeup and hair done to achieve an evening look, but for a more casual gathering I really like to team tailored jeans with a great heel, a silk tank in cream or black that I'm currently wearing a lot and a cute floral black Zara jacket I bought on a recent Sydney trip.

"My friends and family will say I struggle to get away from black, but at the moment I am loving accessorising with colour to make an outfit pop - I have a great necklace with hot pink and fluoro yellow that works really well. I've always been a bit of a magpie so like to add a bit of something shiny to my outfit to dress it up when heading out to evening events.

"I wear heels most days, whether at work or socially, so you'll always see me in them. I wouldn't say I'm a high-street fashion follower, probably more structured and drawn to black dresses that I might add to with more mainstream store accessories.

"I will always have my makeup kit handy to re-apply at the office when heading out. I'm a big fan of Johnson & Johnson facial cleansing wipes for these moments. If all else fails, a fab coloured lipstick to brighten my mood and look. I'm lucky to have a M.A.C store close to work so it's always a life-saver if I've forgotten any of the essentials - and fun to see all the new product.

"Each year I look forward to an annual event, called the 'Arthur St Christmas', where my husband and I get together with two other couples, our best friends whom we flatted with in 'Arthur St' back in our twenties. It's always a memorable evening with a never-changing menu and some must-have tunes. Call us conservative, but it's our tradition. I also have a special milestone birthday coming up in January which I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to or not, but a new outfit is a must.

I'm heading to Melbourne later this month with a few girlfriends, so will be on the lookout for something spectacular, and I'm going to try hard to find something with loads of colour to welcome in my new decade.

We surprised 16 of our good friends with a night out earlier this year. Everyone arrived at our place for cocktails but with no other details. Taxis arrived a short time later to take us to the ferry building, then on to Poderi Crisci on Waiheke Island for the most amazing evening filled with stunning wine, food and laughter. The night ended around 4am back at our place with noise control shutting us down. I searched high and low for something special to wear but found nothing as it was at the tail-end of summer, so a friend with a stunning Zambesi-filled wardrobe lent me a perfect black sequinned dress. For my hair, I trialled the "sock-bun" for this night as I wanted a more sophisticated look for this event. I'm a fan of the "sock-bun" so it will no doubt appear again this season.

The most memorable party I've thrown didn't involve exquisite clothes, but it was the most fun party we've ever had. We're a bit of a sporty couple so the theme was "come as your favourite sports person" and my best friend and I dressed up as Venus and Serena Williams. Think full body paint, very skimpy outfits, wigs and a lot of bling. I must confess I do like a fun themed dress-up. Guests tend to go all out and take on a persona relevant to their costume.

"I love a sense of occasion, any opportunity to get dressed up. My husband often says to me that I'll be overdressed, but I like to make an effort when I go out. Because of the type of work I do, thankfully, I get ample opportunity to go to black-tie and cocktail events to indulge myself.

"My parents have a very strong sense of tradition at Christmas so the day tends to follow a very familiar order. We have two children, Macey aged 5 and Leo aged 2, so on Christmas mornings we open a few gifts at our home then head to my parents' to join them, my brother, sister and her family for a serious present opening session. My mother likes to spoil us so we get to enjoy beautiful bubbles, far too many gifts and a family tradition of scorched almonds for breakfast.

Dad cooks most of our Christmas lunches which are always based on a surprise ethnic cuisine - he researches for months what we'll be having and makes everything from scratch. As I don't eat meat or chicken, there will always be an amazing seafood option. My family live very close to Milford Beach, so after lunch most of us head there to let the kids run around or stay behind for a quiet snooze in the hammock. The evening is usually a more casual barbecue with more of my parents' friends joining us.

"I always like to have a new Christmas day dress each year, but it has to be something functional for running around after the children and beach trips. This year I've got my eye on a Karen Walker dress that will be perfect. This is normally teamed with black or brown Havaianas - although I've got my eye on the Missoni Havaianas this summer."

JACQUI ANSIN
PR director, Lily & Louis

"My style is modern glamour. I love an excuse to dress up and wear something special. I tailor my approach to the dress code. If it's a cocktail party I'll always wear an above-the-knee dress and knockout cocktail rings. Black tie invitations give me an excuse to wear one of my long gowns - a current favourite, which I picked up in Singapore, has a super-low back and is covered with sequins.

"I'm often running late and coming straight from work, so I try to plan in advance and wear something that day that will work into the evening. I change into a fresh pair of heels, throw on some statement jewels - a bit of sparkle dresses up any outfit - and get out the ghds. A cool glass of C Coconut Water ensures I'm hydrated for a potentially long night ahead. If it's a really nice event, I'll pop up to Smashbox in Ponsonby and ask the lovely Grayson Coutts to quickly redo my makeup. Regular spray tans are a must.

"This summer I'll be attending the Saigon event at Stonyridge on Waiheke on Auckland Anniversary weekend. Michelin star chef Marti Britto who was head chef at Nobu in London and now resides in Vietnam will be cooking up a storm. Food, fashion and fun in the sun.

"The Lily & Louis team will be heading to The Oyster Inn on Waiheke for a very long lunch in early December. It opened this week and is already the hottest venue for Christmas. It was designed by Katie Lockhart and has such a feeling of relaxed sophistication. I'll be in raffia heel wedges and a bright print maxi - I'm still on the hunt for the perfect one, so recommendations, please.

"The most memorable summer party I've attended was the Louis Vuitton America's Cup party in 2000, at the Naval Base on the North Shore. They had a show where all the syndicates came through the party on floating boats. Everyone was so glamorously dressed and stunning. It gave a very international feel to New Zealand. I wore a full length black Trelise Cooper dress.

"I love to theme parties so there are always beautiful candles and themes for everything I do. I had a photo shoot at our house a few years ago and I had done a really over-the-top table decoration. It was so stunning I invited friends around to enjoy. I love a great dinner party with great food, superb wine and amazing friends. Our dining table seats 14 so it's the perfect dinner party spot. Noisy, funny, naughty, always a great combination.

"We tend to have a big family lunch at home on Christmas Day. I'll always wear a nice dress, but by mid-afternoon I'll be lying by the pool. I'm spending New Year's Eve on Waiheke at a friend's place, working a resort style once again in wedges and a maxi. There'll be several pairs of Havaianas packed in my Louis Vuitton luggage, I'm sure."

- NZ Herald

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