Fashion for the festive season

Eleanor Mitchell

The festive party season is now in full swing with invitations to glamorous parties flooding through the door. But in the midst of this social whirlwind, most of us will also find ourselves facing family gatherings which throw up a whole new set of wardrobe pitfalls. How will you cope with the sartorial challenges posed during this high point on the social calendar?

Christmas and New Year parties are an extravagant affair. It’s the one time of the year when it’s acceptable to deck yourself out in sequins, glitter and bright colours. However, with perhaps three or four events within a short period of time, all that excessive decoration could prove very expensive and drive you to a desperate high street dash. Rather than finding yourself at Daft Friday throwing evil looks across the Beer Bar at some girl from the hockey team because you are both wearing the same glitzy Kate Moss for Topshop wonder, consider this:

Take one impeccably cut little black, blue, or deep violet dress. Pick a luxurious fabric — nothing too showy, so head-to-toe sequins are definitely out. Take inspiration from Balenciaga’s sculptural black dresses, which are sleek, timeless yet still modern, sophisticated and ooze sex appeal. On the high street, head to Reiss or Whistles for perfect party dresses that are worth every (extra) penny and are unlikely to fall within the average student’s style radar. Now seek out some interesting tights (find Jean Paul Gaultier-esque fishnets in the hosiery department of House of Fraser) or some oversized, over-the-top costume jewellery. Cover up with a fur stole or vintage marabou-feather shrug. Finish with fabulous shoes and a statement bag. The cunning reasoning behind this is that you will only need one dress to see you through the entire party season. If you choose a piece that is dark-coloured, understated and chic, and vary your accessories, no one will notice that you have worn it four times in two weeks. They’ll be too busy cursing the fact that three other girls at the party are also wearing Primark’s £12 sequin “it-dress”.

The other time in December that is sure to cause a panic is the formal family dinner — especially if it’s not your own family. Sharing turkey with your boyfriend’s mother as his father ogles your cleavage in the inappropriate top you threw on that morning is a mortifying experience. To avoid such embarrassment, plan ahead and look for inspiration to Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf. She expertly toes the line between youthful and sophisticated in short but sweet dresses and twinsets, balancing flirty skirts with long sleeves and high necklines. Pearls are the perfect accessory for this situation, especially casually knotted strings. Monochrome is modest but will always be chic, while a more up-to-the minute colour scheme is the pairing of dove grey and flesh pink. Avoid excessive make-up like the plague: a flick of eyeliner and a perfect red lipstick will have grandmas cooing over you all Christmas long.

These sound sartorial principles will carry you straight through to New Year’s Eve. Take your fabulous LBD and jazz it up with a Boxing Day sale bargain — fingers crossed for some accidentally underpriced Louboutins on!


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