LEFT: 60s cocktail dress, Love Miss Daisy, £80; CENTRE: 70s disco gown, Juno Says Hello, £95; RIGHT: 50s cocktail dress, Love Miss Daisy, £40
Like their contemporary equivalents, there's plenty of opportunity to blow the budget on the dress of your dreams. Merchant Archive, Juno Says Hello, Lucy in Disguise and William Vintage are some of my favourite places to head for some real fantasy shopping. But you can get stunning numbers at high street prices too, as proved by the trio of dresses shown above.
These also probably prove one of the golden (er, bronzen in this case) rules of vintage shopping - find an era that's sympathetic to your silhouette and seek those fashions out. So here we've got an embellished 60s shift, a slinky 70s number and a Balenciaga-influenced 50s dress. The latter is also one of those rarer vintage plus size finds - it's the equivalent of a contemporary size 18/20.
LEFT: 50s prom dress, Darlings Vintage, £25; CENTRE: Silver sequin mini-dress, Rokit, £35; RIGHT: 60s shift dress, Peekaboo, sadly now sold.
And here's some silver dresses illustrating the same principle, plus showing how silver is always party appropriate. At £25, the 50s prom dress is a complete bargain for petite girls.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 50s rayon and rhinestone evening dress, Rokit, £90; 60s baby doll smock dress, Mint Vintage, £40; 50s animal print party dress, Rokit, £120; 80s skater dress, Peekaboo Vintage, £55.
Another perennial party classic: the Little Black Dress. What makes a LBD special is the shape and the details and this quartet are full of fantastic details, whether it's the rhinestone or the animal print on the 50s numbers (actually, the animal print dress is dark brown but it's so fab I had to sneak it in here), the bow on the 60s smock or the cape-like effect on the 80s skater dress.
LEFT: Repro 30s siren evening gown, 20th Century Foxy, £280; RIGHT: 30s bias cut dress, Darlings Vintage, £65
You don't really get more glamorous than a classic Hollywood film star slinking around in their bias cut number. Here's two ways us mere mortals can attempt to replicate the look. On the left is a budget-busting repro dress from 20th Century Foxy, made from rayon and in sizes 8 to 18. Or, for the real 30s thing, Darlings Vintage have this beautiful number. It needs some fixing-up from a skilled seamstress, which probably accounts for the relatively low £65 price tag. It's also worth looking at 70s-does-30s numbers too for some well-priced alternatives - I particularly like this 70s number with a lovely bit of embellishment.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: 70s handbag, Beyond Retro, £16; 80s clutch, Beyond Retro, £11.25; 60s clutch, My Vintage, £65; 60s metallic bag, Beyond Retro, £18
If you've splurged on your dress, you can save a bit on your accessories. Beyond Retro seems to have a particularly bargainous collection of gold bags in at the moment, all looking party perfect.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: 60s mesh bag, It's Vintage Darling!, £40; 60s beaded bag, Lady Pearls Vintage, £20; 20s beaded evening bag, Love Miss Daisy, £35; 50s Lucite Bag, Lucy in Disguise, £150
Some of these bags are so pretty I just want to put them on a shelf and stare at them for hours - Father Christmas, if you're reading, I'd love the Lucy in Disguise Lucite bag please. And, while original 20s dresses may be prohibitively expensive or too fragile to wear, you can add a bit of flapper fashion with a 20s beaded bag, such as the Love Miss Daisy bag shown above, or this glass bead number from My Vintage. Even 80s interpretations of the look are worth exploring.
You don't need me to tell you that Christmas is a great reason to pile on the glitz. There's so much to choose from, and some fantastic costume jewellery currently available on the high street. I'm a bit swoony over Banana Republic's vintage collection, which includes this starlet-worthy bracelet. For the real thing, and a real treat, these 1920s drop earrings (£115 from Merchant Archive) are drop-dead gorgeous. Complete the flapper look with this vintage beaded skull cap, just in at Lovelys Vintage.
LEFT: Christmas tree brooch, Myriad Life Vintage, £12; RIGHT: Christmas wreath brooch, The Dorothy Days, £15
A bit of Christmas novelty doesn't have to be limited to your jumper - a Christmas wreath brooch, how pretty! And how glam is this Christmas tree brooch? Both are at stocking filler prices too.
It can be trickier to find a pair of party shoes that fit properly, are in a decent condition and are comfortable enough to wear. I can't vouch for the comfort of these 1950s diamante sandals but they are undeniably gorgeous. Snap them up if you are a size 3/3.5 for £30, again from Darlings Vintage.
Or go repro for comfort and a bit more choice in sizes. These 1950s-style Cinderella shoe by Miss L Fire come in sizes 4 to 8. You can buy a pair from Miss Bamboo for £85.
LEFT: 80s Gina shoes, Absolute Vintage, £95; CENTRE: 80s Beverly Feldman shoes, Absolute Vintage, £25; RIGHT: 80s Roland Cartier pumps, Dark Paradise Vintage, £58
Really want to go glam? That's glam like Bowie, or even Slade (it's Christmasssssssss, after all). You'll need these 70s gold mesh ankle boots, only £14. Or to shimmer as you shimmy, check out this incredible pair of 60s gold gogo boots. You'll outdo even the Christmas tree.