Dressing for Christmas parties can be challenging, even for the sartorially blessed. Whether it’s office drinks, a formal event, or something decidedly more chilled out, finding the right side of smart-casual is a well-honed skill. How do you fulfil a dress code yet still express your idiosyncratic style? For those of us who want to stand out, what are the alternatives to the ubiquitous bodycon, glittering mini dresses and sequins? As the festive season looms, it’s time to opt for fresh, new party-dressing solutions.
Learn, first, to pass off anything that itches, is unflattering in shape or takes festivity too literally. In the end, it all boils down to this: You’re going to be on your feet all night long, air-kissing a lot of people you barely know and scrambling for cocktails (without even mentioning the queue for the loos). What your outfit needs is mileage and glamour in equal measure.
We’ve done the groundwork and created three go-to party looks based on current trends. They're fashion-forward, easy to style and set to go the distance, so all you need is an elegant finishing touch.
Enter Ghost Dream, an ethereal fragrance comprised of rose essential, Moroccan orange flower, Egyptian jasmine and violet. Top notes of rose and aqua flora balance out with a base of woody notes, like ambroxan musks and patchouli, which (just like your new look) say, “Let’s party.” Gift yourself the fragrance a few weeks early and let it power you through the packed calendar. After all, there’s nothing like an alluring new scent to make you feel superhuman. Here are the party looks good enough to match up...
When the invite ambiguously says “Dress up!” yet time is all but on your side, go wild and combine three of AW17's landmark trends – pink, velvet and sports luxe – into one transitional piece. A wide-leg trouser that boasts all of these qualities will transform workwear into party wear.
Poppers serve as an AW17 update on the wide-leg trouser, allowing a festive flash of skin and a pleasant rippling effect with every stride; the more material and movement, the more glamorous. Velvet is also a foolproof alternative for those who just can’t stand the texture of sequins. Comfortable, flattering in most cases and in keeping with the season, it’s much more accessible. It’s the pink, though, that really makes the trouser pop. Enjoying its second season at the forefront of fashion, it’s the colour jackpot this December. If you don’t like bubblegum hues, opt for a rich yellow topaz colour, instead: just as much allure but with a slightly tamer feel.
The trick now is to let the trousers do the talking. Workwear classics, like a crisp white shirt or simple black silk camisole, will do the trick and a pair of strappy black court heels will maximise the length of the trouser. Go for an embellished pair for a flash of sparkle that'll appear visible only as you walk. Use fun accessories, like disc earrings and a metallic clutch, to tie the pink back in. Makeup-wise, opt for an overall glossy sheen, incorporating soft pinks and nudes on the lips and eyes. Your hair may have taken half an hour to perfect, but a ‘messy bun’ is cool and frivolous. It says “OOO and ready to party” and isn’t that what the festive season is all about, anyway?
Model wears Etro Velvet Biker Jacket, £2,435; Altuzarra Melia Dress, £2,250; Altuzarra Cosmo Ankle Boots £1,100; Swarovski Hero Ring, £99; Swarovski Hippie choker, £125; Topshop Bag, £26; Topshop Earrings £14.50.
Florals in spring? Groundbreaking. But in winter, genuinely so.
Engage in power play and mix up billowing, feminine, floral gowns with chunky lace-up boots. The aim is to strike the balance between masculine and feminine for a romantic-but-not-overtly-girly aesthetic. This look is easy to nail and a great way to become au fait with layering; a handy tool for chilly evenings.
The key factor to seek out? Dreamy ruffles in darker hues with interesting silhouettes. Look for elements that break up the flow, like a side slit or asymmetric shape. It’s a hybrid that results in a current and effortlessly cool aesthetic. If layering sounds scary, keep it simple and ease in bit-by-bit. Only once you’re happy with the base should you add in extra elements, like a lace bra peeking out at the neckline and layered jewellery. A souped-up velvet jacket is a smart and seasonal way to top it all off; choose a deep burgundy colour to tie in with the florals.
Go one step further and emulate the grungy glamour face-first. A dark kohl eye and undone, natural hair (however yours comes, rock it) will play down the romance of the gown. Big wins go to mini bags, which have stolen the show this winter, meaning travelling light is in; buy yours in metallic shades for a cool reminder of yuletide festivities. The flipside? Limited storage space. Squeeze in the Ghost Dream miniature (available inside the official gift set) alongside your favourite lipstick to equip yourself for the powder room.
Nothing spells out party season like sequins, but there is much to be gained by avoiding the obvious (glittering LBDs, we're looking at you). A sequinned midi skirt is opulent, yet with enough room for you to breathe comfortably, hit the dance floor and wrestle for the canapés. Bonus points for delicate trimmings, like gauze and tulle; a new-season update spotted on catwalks across the board, which will bring your sequins out of the noughties and into 2017.
With the centrepiece sorted, it’s time to mix it up. A cosy, marginally oversized jumper will bring festive warmth to your look (and make all the shine less terrifying). Try interesting knits in bright hues, like orange, which enhance all skin tones during the colder months, and match the colour with heavy-duty ear candy. Remember, you want to look effortless, so roll your sleeves up and act as if you’ve just shrugged the jumper on. It’s not hard to get right, but the contrast of dimension and fabric adds up to more than the sum of its parts: it’s clever and undeniably chic, without being try-hard.
Take the relaxed attitude through to the finishing touches. You can chance on a little more sheen now that you’ve balanced out the twinkle, so try silver platforms with an ankle strap for height and definition, and wear them over a fresh pair of shimmery black socks. Smudge on a metallic eye cream, which will glint in the light, but keep your hair natural and free to do as it pleases. A cross-body metallic bag will tie it all together and leave you hands-free; a genuine Christmas miracle.