Party dressing made easy
It's so easy to end up looking like a Christmas tree at this time of year. Muddy's fashion expert Kerry Potter shows you how to nail going out style.
This one’s for you if the mere thought of partywear makes you want to chain yourself to the sofa in your PJs and fire up Netflix. When it comes to going out at this time of year, the temptation is to panic dive into a vat of sequins and glitter but it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s something out there for everyone, whatever your taste or formality levels. In my experience, anyone can buy a nice dress but it’s the styling that people often struggle with – ie what the heck do you wear said nice dress with?
On a personal note, my approach this year to evening wear has been a very simple one. I bought this demure but sparkly dress from Warehouse (the best shop on the high street at the mo, in my opinion – do take a fresh look if you haven’t done so since the Nineties) and am wearing it to every single Christmas bash, but switching up my shoes/ earrings/ make up/ hair style depending on how I feel on the night. Easy peasy. The days of feeling obliged to wear a different outfit every time you venture out have long gone – it’s not exactly eco-friendly, for a start. Buy something that makes you feel like strutting down the street like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and wear it to death, I say.
So here are my 5 top tips for pulling together the perfect Christmas party outfit. Let’s do this!
Do your research
This is boring but vital – make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for before you choose your outfit. Because if you’re shivering in a too-skimpy dress or you can’t hit the dance floor because your heels are too high then it’s not going to be a fun party for you. Key questions: how formal is the event? How are you getting there? What’s the weather going to be like? Be prepared. I’ve got a black faux fur gilet which is useful when I’m not quite sure how dressy an event will be. I layer it over a biker jacket or black tuxedo jacket and it add glamour but if I arrive and feel over-dressed, I whip it off and just go with one jacket. Conversely, if you’re hosting a house party or a dinner, that’s the time to throw caution to the wind. That’s when I’m decked out in my silliest heels, spackled in sequins and tights-free because I’m in charge of the thermostat and there’s no trek home.
Don’t default to an LBD
Partywear traditionally meant a dress, preferably black, but there are so many other options these days. Skirts have made a huge comeback as daywear and they work for evening too – a statement skirt and simple black fine-gauge knit can look amazing. There are loads of co-ords around – matching separates, basically. The bonus with these is you can wear them together or mix ’em up so you get more bang for your buck.
Or how about a jumpsuit? There’s one out there for everyone – if this 5’2 shorty can wear a jumpsuit then so you can you. I get mine tailored to fit. I like the fact they have an edgier feel than a bog-standard dress’n’heels.
Still hellbent on a dress? No problem – I give you the LGD, the little green dress. Bottle green is just as flattering as black, if not more so as it doesn’t drain the colour from your skin. There’s tonnes of them around this season. See also: midnight blue and burgundy.
Start with your key piece and build your outfit from there
Almost everyone I meet who works in the fashion industry gets dressed in this way. Decide on the key party piece that you’re dying to wear – be it a clutch bag or a jumpsuit – and build the rest of your look around it. It stops you having a last minute panic in front the mirror just before your taxi arrives. A note of caution though: don’t make your shoes the only show-stopping element of your outfit. I’ve made this mistake before, proudly wearing beautiful shoes with a plain black dress – and then on arrival discovered the venue has delicate wooden floors or cream carpets and been asked to take them off. Cue being stuck all night in the world’s most boring outfit.
Think top half
At lots of events, we end up sitting down for a large portion of the evening – if you’re at a dinner, for example, so make sure your top half shines. Think like a newsreader, basically. Try an evening blouse in silk or chiffon, statement earrings (I love an enormous hoop) or a disco jumper. That’s not to be confused with a Christmas jumper – no chunky knits emblazoned with reindeers, thanks – rather one that’s neat-fitting, preferably cashmere and with some kind of sparkly detail. Finally, get thee a sharply tailored tux jacket (you could plump for velvet this season) and it’ll be the hardest-working piece in your wardrobe.
Harness the power of accessories
Accessories are where you can really have fun with your look and push your boundaries – you can road test new fabrics, finishes or textures in small doses. You may not feel like wearing a velvet trouser suit, for example, but how about a velvet bag or shoe? Have a look at hair accessories too – there are lots of gorgeous, grown-up clips and headbands around this season – they can look more modern than earrings or a necklace.
Finally, a word about tights. I’m not a fan of black opaque tights in the evening – they can kill a look. It’s worth trying your outfit both with and without and seeing what works best. If you’re wearing a midi or maxi skirt/dress, you may be able to get away without them. Or take a look a low denier tights which are very much back, thanks to Saint Laurent. There’s all manner of cool patterns around – you may not have considered them since about 1985 but they feel fresh again now.