We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


Real clothes: Party like it's 1999

I don't want to freak you out folks, but it's only five days to go until the night of the millennium. In other words, time is fast running out on the frock front if are yet to find yourself a knock-em-dead outfit.

Given that I am one of those bah-humbugs who wants nothing more than to stay as far from the jolly festivities and crowds as possible, this sartorial problem is unlikely to affect me.

But that hasn't stopped me being curious about where everyeone else is going, what they're doing and how they'll dress for the occasion. Which is why I've spent the last three months asking normal people about their fashion plans for New Year's Eve.

So this is it. This is what you're going to be up against. And remember, even if like me you're going to be curled up in front of the telly waiting for some millennium bug to fuse the lights at midnight, it's important that you look fantastic. You might just find yourself running with the crowd despite yourself.

Monica Bjorkman, 32, sales and marketing manager, Hugo Boss

This jellaba is traditional Arab dress. I'll be wearing it on New Year's Eve as I'll be at a fancy dress party in Egypt. A big group of us - about 80 - will be diving in the Red sea, visiting an oasis and generally soaking up the culture. We will have walked up Mount Sinai during the day on New Year's Eve at a bedouin party with huge fires, local music and champagne, of course. There will be traditional tents to sleep in - that's if we go to bed.

Jellaba, pounds 250, Egyptian necklace, pounds 120, and earrings pounds 48, all Mo Tea Room and Antiques, 23 Heddon Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 734 3999). Silver mules, pounds 70, Delphine Charlotte Parmentier, Fenwick, 63 New Bond Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 629 9161).

Sarah Burkett, 28, make-up artist

I am going to Acapulco for three weeks over Christmas and New Year with two friends. We thought it would be a brilliant place for the millennium and we decided that if we partied in fancy dress on New Year's Eve it would be even more fun. I'll be wearing this Carmen Miranda outfit. I love the vibrant colours - I feel like a Latin Snow White. We are going to be travelling up and down the Pacific coast and also lying on the beach a lot, witnessing every tequila sunrise. I want to immerse myself in the lifestyle, absorb the culture - the area has such a fantastic history with all the Aztec ruins. I can't wait.

Carmen Miranda outfit, to hire, pounds 47, Stagestruck, 41 Brushfield Street, London E1 (tel: 0800 174114).

Fran Van der Feyst, 26, hairdresser

I'm going to two different clubs in London on New Year's Eve: Come Dancing in Clapham and Mesmerise in Brixton. I'm wearing this outfit because it's eye-catching and shiny, and most of all, it's comfortable. When you're partying for two days solid, that's important. I wouldn't call myself a hardcore clubber so much as a pure clubber - it's about the music, dancing and fun, especially at the millennium.

Skirt, top and utility belt, Spank, Kensington Market, 49 High Street Kensington, London W8 (0171 938 4343).

Lacey Scott, 27, dancer

On New Years Eve I'll be dancing in the Paradise Parade Carnival at the Millennium Dome. I found out I had the job as a dancer in June and I've been rehearsing since September. Now is the first time I've seen and tried on the actual outfit I'll be wearing on the night, so I'm really excited. It's a fantastic opportunity to be involved in something on such a grand scale; something special to tell my grandchildren.

Photographs by PETER WARREN Interviews by GWYNETH HOLLAND

Caroline Clark, 31, estate agent

I searched for a dress for ages and I found this one at Hobbs, my favourite shop. I was torn between black and red, but black is far more flattering. I'm going to a party at a huge country house in Sunningdale with a big group of friends - we thought it would be better than going to some hotel filled with strangers. It's not far from where we live so we can walk home if we get very drunk. And it would be rude not to get drunk - it is the turn of the century, after all.

Black sequinned dress, pounds 139, Hobbs branches nationwide (tel: 0171 586 5550).

Dave Leith, 29, school teacher/ set builder/ carpenter

Rebekah Rissman, 25, psychiatric nurse

We've been living in the UK for seven years and we decided to go back to New Zealand for the millennium about three months back. A lot of our friends from university are returning from all over the world and we thought it would be a good time to all meet up. We'll probably spend New Year at a friend's holiday house in Marlborough Sounds. We'll be wearing summer clothes because it'll be about 30C. Rebekah wears T-shirt from USA Sport, skirt from Portobello market, shoes from Malaysia. Dave wears T-shirt from Kensington Market and shorts from a Barcelona op shop.

Paul Bhari, 30, PR account manager

The new millennium is a time for introspection and profound thought. The important thing for me is to be comfortable, so I'll be at home wearing my incredibly luxurious cashmere pants and my tartan dressing gown. If someone pops round, that's fine, but otherwise I'll be relaxing and drinking champagne. At the dawn of a new age it's also important to tap into my spiritual side, so I'll be reading Siddartha by Hermann Hesse.

Grey cashmere draw-string pants, pounds 235, tartan wool dressing gown, pounds 110, both The Scotch House (tel: 0171 581 2151). Ponyskin clogs (to order), Ann Louise Roswald (tel: 0171 250 1583).

Jan Marie Von Giebelhausen, 33, model/designer

I designed this myself because I wanted the perfect black dress to wear at the turn of a new century, and I don't really like all the silver that's about at the moment. People say my style is classic with a quirky twist, but detail and perfection are also important when I am designing a dress, and for the millennium it really has to be right. Although I'm not really a New Year's Eve person, friends and I are planning to have an extremely decadent intimate dinner, with servants supplying us with fine food and wine. It's the best way I can think of escaping from the mania that is sure to erupt come midnight.

Bias-cut satin halter dress, Jan Marie's own design, and vintage lace cape, both available to order at the West Village, 364 Fulham Road, London SW10 (tel: 0171 795 2604).