I Sifted Through 50 High-Street Party Dresses to Find the Ones I Actually Want

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Here at Who What Wear UK, we're all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That's why Team WWW UK has created this offshoot shopping column as part of our We Try Before You Buy franchise, in which I, Joy Montgomery, will be heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to intriguing brands, prepare for changing room selfies aplenty. Is there something you'd like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or message me via Instagram for requests.

'Tis the season to trudge around the high street and try on shimmering, spangled dresses. Yes, that's right—party season is almost upon us. Christmas might seem a long way away (60 days, if you're counting), but with office parties getting in there early, suddenly that big dress decision is looking a little close for comfort.

I apologise if I sound a little "Scrooge" about the whole thing, but as much as I love the high street, party dressing tends to be a department that is never quite as modern as the other lines on offer. An overwhelming number of dresses seem to feature either a skintight fit, enough glitz to bedeck a Christmas tree, a bum-grazing hemline or all of the above. (Help.) While I have nothing against other people going to town on the above, I personally find these pieces can feel at odds with my normal style.

If you're like me and don't have the funds to invest in a Vampire's Wife frock (a girl can dream), the high street will just have to do. So, I made it my mission to find those affordable, party-ready gems that will make you feel a million dollars—even if they only cost £50. It wasn't easy, but after three hours of shopping, I managed to rustle up 15 looks that I would happily hit the dance floor in. On my travels, it became clear that '80s and '90s party dresses are having a moment, as there were plenty of big shoulders, statement fabrics and sultry slip dress styles.

My top picks would have to be H&M's gorgeous pleated leopard midi, Topshop's polka-dot mini and & Other Stories' velvet wrap dress. These picks are grown-up and on-trend yet still glam. I'm sold. Scroll down to see and shop the high-street party dresses that I fell in love with.

Style Notes: This dress couldn't be more '90s if it tried. It features a cowl neck, skinny straps, animal print and slinky silhouette. Weirdly, I think the stretchier fabric on this Topshop cami dress might be easier to pull off than some of the bias-cut alternatives, which can sometimes cling in odd places. I would accessorise this with a beaded bag and hoop earrings. The piece I'm wearing isn't currently available online, but below is a similar look.

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