The Chic List: How I put the special into occasionwear

Fashion columnist and influencer Joanne Hegarty on her occasionwear tips.

That sinking sense of having a wardrobe full of clothes yet nothing to wear always hits you hardest, in my experience, when an invitation to something special turns up. With weddings, summer parties, birthday celebrations and christenings joyfully back on, that all-too-familiar question of ‘What on earth should I wear?’ will be asked with great feeling many times over.

Special occasion ready in a Valentino feathered knit and studded mules. Skirt by Joseph.

My advice when shopping for a big event is to recognise the style box that comes with the occasion. Then make a conscious effort not to fall right into this rigid box with its heavy clunking lid. For example, if you’re going to the races at Ascot or the Grand National, rather than following the herd with a frock and hat, think about a trouser suit or a more individual pairing such as a pencil skirt and feathered top.

Or if dresses are your thing, add individuality with standout jewellery or shoes. I loved how Cate Blanchett styled her beautiful black Armani Privé dress to the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards with a selection of eye-catching Pomellato cocktail rings. It made her ensemble more personal and exquisite

Cate Blanchett at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last month

If your daughter or son is getting married, rather than seeking places that sell under the ‘mother-of-the-bride’ umbrella (which can be limiting and ageing), dive in somewhere else with fresh eyes and no boxes.

An occasion is a great opportunity to unearth something truly special. Seek out a piece that you can see yourself wearing over and over. So if you’re buying heels, get ones you can wear with jeans, too. The biggest style sin is to spend lots of money on something that gets worn once then sits shamefully in the wardrobe.

A party dress shouldn’t necessarily mean something new. I love to collect a handful of special-occasion pieces then pull them out when an invitation pops in. This reduces stress, impulse buying and the inevitable mistakes that follow.

A good blow-dry can instantly revive an old favourite. Many of the great occasion dressers, such as Princess Diana and Kate Moss, recycled their outfits time and time again.

This season, mood-boosting hues, feathers and shimmer add up to a special-event bounty. Have fun finding yours!

So versatile, this can be worn in many ways. Skirt, £225, Raey, matchesfashion.com

Eye-catching shoes always turn heads. Sandals, £89.99, mango.com

Do statement bling like Cate Blanchett. Ring, £230, Timeless Pearly, matchesfashion.com

Team this with black trousers and gold jewellery. Jacket, £495, joseph-fashion.com

Dress this up with heels and standout earrings. Shirtdress, £79, cosstores.com

This is made fora high-waisted skirt. Cardigan, £161, Sleeper, net-a-porter.com

Follow me on Instagram @thestylistandthewardrobe

IMAGERY: NATASHA PSZENICKI, GETTY IMAGES