Shane Watson – How to Dress Like a Grown Up: The Secret to Being Party Ready in Seconds

  • Shane Watson explains OST is the part of your look that’s individual and stylish
  • Suggestions include pairing sweaters with silk scarves and 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 understand. That is of course the One Special Thing rule.

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

Shane Watson offers advice on how to embrace the One Special Thing rule. Pictured: Maggie Gyllenhaal

An old sequin capelet that was wrapped around the shoulders and neck of a simple bias-cut dress, years ago. The T-bar crackleglaze silver shoes that sprinkled fairy dust on plain black velvet were also available. My most recent OST, a wrap with shockingly pink splodges of beige is an addition to any outfit from jeans to dark midi dresses.

These OSTs do all the hard work so that you can focus on what is important.

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

In general, silver or gold will lend themselves to OSTs that are never going out of style. 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.

These earrings are high-impact and very fashionable

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.

However, earrings can be the fastest way to go. 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. You can find dazzling paste and pearl earrings at Shrimps in London, Zara and Mango have quirky drops.


  • Wear silk scarves to dress up your sweaters
  • Opt for big earrings.
  • Change to large buttons
  • All day, wear cocktail shoes

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.

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,

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, Asos and many other stores have large selections.

A touch of 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 sells a wide range of sweaters, tanks, and other clothing with chunky buttons made from diamante (, which instantly turn them into something. . . special.