How To Nail The Christmas Party Look

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It’s not cool to admit to liking Christmas parties. Cool people go large at pop-up rooftop negroni bars, or at Burning Man, then roll their eyes and make snide jokes about photocopiers when the Christmas Night Out rolls around. More fool them.

I love a Christmas party. Because, first of all, mince pies. Also, panettone. Christmas is the only time of year when, as a grownup, you go to a party knowing you’ll get cake. Result. Also, Christmas parties are about having fun, not about posing and being cool. This is possibly why the cool people don’t like them, come to think of it.

And a festive dress-up is the nicest kind: indulgent and cosy, rather than exposed or difficult or provocative. Anything that requires shapewear or a faffy strapless bra situation can wait till New Year’s Eve, thank you very much. The best Christmas party clothes don’t try and transform you into anyone you are not, but instead elevate tired, five o’clock you into a sparklier, twinklier eight o’clock version of you.

All ages Christmas party
 Gem wears blouse, £65, and skirt, £42, both topshop.com. Belt, £12, asos.com. Bag, £26, riverisland.com. Photograph: David Newby/The Guardian. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson and Helen Seamons

The best-dressed person at a party is rarely the most dressed-up person. I am a believer in making an effort, but this doesn’t mean dolling yourself up like the Blackpool illuminations. Me, I never met a sequin I didn’t like, and this Christmas I intend to wear feathers, possibly at lunchtime. But if high-octane isn’t your thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a party look.

Your look can be a gorgeous black trouser suit with flat shoes. Just add a printed blouse, and perhaps a glass of red for a flash of colour. Forget scratchy lace: creamy chubby cord is very Nordic hygge-chic, amped up for evening with an excellent earring and a pop of blusher. You can bypass the hold-your-tummy-in school of dressing and opt for an emerald-green satin, long-sleeve blouse and sequin jeans in a toning colour.

If you are going to invest in one party piece in 2017, make it a blouse. It has gone from dull workwear to classic dinner do, and is now joining the party, ice cubes clinking. A slinky blouse works with everything – jeans, velvet miniskirt, leather trousers – and catches the light without adding too much disco-ball sparkle.

Accessories? This is the season to bring out your most impractical bag, or show-stopping heels. (Wear them with a long, loose, floaty dress for an easy evening update on the midi-skirt-and-knit you’ve been wearing all autumn.) Leave to-do lists and the hand-sanitiser at home, and swing your smallest, silliest bag. Heck, wear a pair of cat ears, if the mood takes you. You know that Coco Chanel rule about looking in the mirror then taking one thing off? It doesn’t apply during advent. If anything, you need to add one crucial extra finishing touch to complete your party look. Mince pie, anyone?

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