How to dress like a grown up: Secret to being party ready in seconds

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Secret to being party ready in seconds

  • Shane Watson explains OST is the part of your look that’s individual and stylish
  • Suggests dressing up sweaters with silk scarves or going for bold earrings
  • UK-based fashion expert takes inspiration from Maggie Gyllenhaal 

So we’re back out there, we have some actual parties on the horizon — lucky us — but, I don’t know about you, I’m a bit rusty on the dressing up front.

The first time I stood in front of the mirror in my going-out finery there was something missing, and it’s taken a few goes to work out what I’d forgotten. Now I know. It is, of course, the rule of One Special Thing.

The One Special Thing (OST) is the part of your look that’s surprising, individual and stylish. It’s the detail that somehow ignites your outfit and gives it the perfect amount of Wow factor.

We’re not necessarily talking about dressing up for a party or a wedding; this is simply the trick of adding an extra something that makes you stand out, whether it’s in the park, at the pub, or when you finally end up celebrating your friend’s significant birthday.

Shane Watson shares advice for embracing the rule of One Special Thing. Pictured: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Years ago, I had a sequin capelet (sounds odd, worked a treat draped around the shoulders of an ordinary bias-cut dress). There were the T-bar crackle-glaze silver shoes which sprinkled fairy dust over plain black velvet, and my most recent OST is a wrap with shocking pink splodges on beige that adds an exotic dash to everything from jeans to a dark midi dress.

The point about these OSTs is they do the work, so you can keep everything else simple.

There’s no rule as to what makes an OST — it could be a scarf, some earrings, or a coat — but here are some examples to inspire your own:

Pretty crazy shoes

As a general rule silver or gold lend themselves well to OSTs that will never date. Try LK Bennett’s white crinkle patent snaffle loafers (£259, or old gold ankle boots (£279) or go for a pointy-toed green sling back with a paste buckle (£59.99, Whatever makes you gasp with delight from the selection opposite — that’s the shoe to make your outfit crackle.

High-impact earrings

Don’t save your cocktail rings for cocktail hour. A Swarovski crystal classic (£165, or a labradorite knuckleduster (£149, or a crystal ring from Mango’s collection (£15.99, are all easy ways to add some flair to everyday clothes.

That said, earrings are the OST that get you where you want fastest. The gold and pearl mismatched ones (£350, Michaela Coel wore to receive her Emmy were the icing on the cake of a fabulous red-carpet outfit, but you could equally wear them with a blazer and jeans. Try London label Shrimps ( for dazzling paste and pearl earrings, and Zara or Mango for quirky drops.


  • Dress up sweaters with silk scarves.
  • Go for bold earrings.
  • Switch to big buttons.
  • Don cocktail shoes all day.

Otherwise, if you feel you can’t justify buying more jewellery, have a browse at Felt ( where you can trade in your old pieces for new and vintage.

A silk scarf

I long to have the knack, the neck, the twist technique — whatever it is that separates women who can effortlessly knot a scarf from the rest. I don’t, but if you do, it’s a brilliant shortcut to zhuzh-ing up a shirt, prettifying a buttoned-up blazer, softening the round collar of a sweater and generally ratcheting up your French nonchalant style points.

Zara does some great print silk squares (£27.99, or for a longer scarf try Massimo Dutti’s in a blue or black print (£49.95,

A chic belt

Whether it’s cinching in a shirt dress, breaking up co-ords, or slipped through the loops of your jeans, belts add instant dash. Try a big-buckle belt over a denim shirt (a la Saint Laurent) or a skinny leopard belt with trousers (£27 and £35, Zara and Asos have a big selection.

A little embellishment

On the one hand we want hard-working versatile clothes, but an unexpected twist is the detail that makes something special enough to wear to your friend’s delayed wedding. Ganni has a range of sweaters and tanks with chunky diamante buttons ( that instantly transform them into something . . . special.

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