When I think back to all the parties I’ve hosted over the years — raucous housewarmings, cheerful Friendsgivings and cathartic Galentine’s nights — the precious ritual of getting ready is just as memorable as the champagne-fuelled shenanigans that followed. Hosting a party can be stressful — worrying about the inevitable mess, the playlist, last-minute cancellations — but flicking through the hangers in my closet and debating what to wear before anyone arrives is pure anticipatory joy.

A hostess outfit must be many things: It should appear glamorous but spontaneous — as seemingly easy and unfussy as a rustic fig galette; it should look good from every angle in case there are candid photos; and it should be memorable (at least to the wearer). I don’t recall much of my 2014 New Year’s Eve get-together except the swishy beaded vintage top I had on because it photographed beautifully and its sparkly tassels were a perfect fit for the occasion.


From left to right: Beaufille, Halpern and Brock Collection Image by: Beaufille, IMaxTree

But what does it mean to get dressed up in 2018? Athleisure continues to dominate, Balenciaga’s supersize Triple S sneakers have a longer wait-list than any heel, and a pair of drapey silk pyjamas registers as being as fancy as a cocktail dress. Fortunately, the fall/winter runways offered some worthy options for the aspirational hostess. There’s Michael Halpern’s high-octane sequins, which he calls “inappropriately glamorous.” The darling of London Fashion Week fearlessly plays with colour and volume — his clothes are perfect for offering a fleeting sense of escapism in troubling times. This month, Halpern is collaborating with Topshop on a lineup of dresses, blouses and trousers that exude ’80s glam. For romantics, there’s Brock Collection. What could be dreamier than lacing yourself into one of the brand’s raw-edge silk corsets, pinning on a flower and tying a ribbon in your hair? And for the minimalists, there’s the ever-cool (and Canadian) Beaufille, whose puff-sleeved shirts and dresses channel a low-key glamour that won’t look out of place if your guests show up in hoodies and jeans. The added bonus of dressing up to host a party? The looming winter weather is irrelevant — no need to worry about transit and its dictates of practical shoes and coat spoiling the look. And if that’s not reason enough, do it for the Instagram shot.

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.