Zero time, Max Style: Christmas party dressing (part one)


Well, hel-lo there sparkle.

Remember that splendid A.A. Milne rhyme about the king who said, forlornly, ‘Nobody my dear, could call me a fussy man, but I do like a little bit of butter on my bread’? Well, nobody would call me an ‘out there’ dresser (unless you happen to class oversized statement necklaces as ‘out there’; I was once informed – by an older gentleman on the bus – that my necklace was nearly as big as me), but, come the festive season, something in me screams for sparkle. No joke, one year I wore a green jumper festooned with crystals. Yes, I looked like a tree. Did I care? Hell, no. Christmas party dressing? Bring it on. I have my husband’s work party this weekend and I am currently deliberating as to whether a sparkly clutch plus Victoria by Victoria Beckham dress (an Outnet bargain, btw) with silk skirt, sheer back and side (yes, this is the infamous ‘side boob’ look but when you don’t have anything to flash, I figure it’s okay) is too much. Thoughts?

Now even I, in my enthusiasm, would not recommend head-to-toe sparkle. I would probably opt for either a wow dress (okay, maybe a wow dress with a necklace) or sparkle with low-key accompaniments. Witness…

Sequinned camisole, £35 River Island at Asos

Sequinned camisole, £35 River Island at Asos

I would team this with skinny (or slim) trousers and a blazer – you want to play down all those sparkles.

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High waist skinny trousers, £28, Topshop; Blazer with tuxedo collar, £69.99, Zara

I am also very taken with the idea of wearing a pair of smart skinny jeans or trousers with a great sparkly knit, or even a sweatshirt. I am in love with this J Crew  jumper with its jewelled neckline. If anyone would like to buy it for me for Christmas, I would be an exceedingly happy (and very grateful) bunny.

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Embellished jumper, now £36.80, TopShop; Jewelled Donegal jumper, £98, J Crew

Or I would flip this idea of high-low on its head and wear a statement skirt with a plain tee or knit.

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Black sequin skirt, now £20, River Island; Autograph sequinned skirt, £59, Marks & Spencer

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Navy taffeta skirt, £48, Topshop; Bronze Aldridge skirt, £225, Baukjen

Do not disregard pattern as to tricksy. It can be gorgeous – and means you look dressed up without actually having to do very much.

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Raoul bow skirt, £230, my-wardrobe;  Rita skirt, £125, Coast

The same rule also applies to trousers, btw. Jenna Lyons of  J Crew has single-handedly made the patterned cocktail pant a viable evening option.6d5affef51c28d34908d84b54d861016

If you’re thinking, Bold printed trousers? Has she taken leave of her senses? then let me encourage you to head to the high street, where you can at least try before you dismiss them as a viable evening option.

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Floral jacquard , £120, Boutique by Jaeger; Statement floral print, £40, Asos

What to wear with your statement lower half?

Well, if you’re Jenna Lyons, whatever you fancy. If you’re a tad more hesitant, you cannot go wrong with a simple grey tee, a crisp white shirt or a fine-knit jumper (or, should you wish to sparkle by team, try teaming your skirt with heels and a chunky knit jumper, like this one from Gap). Whistles has this great navy fine cashmere jumper and Cos offers this one, neither of which is cheap, but you’d get a lot of wear out of it. Or check out J.Crew’s cashmere collection (I was wallowing in its gorgeousness in the new Regent Street store the other day, which is  perilously located just around the corner from my new office.)

This is the vibe you’re after. (There’s something very Sex and the City about it.)


If you’re after something really dressy and cannot bear to think about co-ordinating sequins and knitwear, then head straight for, well, a dress. May I suggest a wander around French Connection – they have some fabulous options for party season 2013 (as I have appear to have started calling it).

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Shimmer shower sequin dress, £250, French Connection; Rochelle ribbon dress, £180, French Connection

I’m not sure even the black dress requires a necklace, but if your LBD does, head to the high street where Accessorize is quietly doing a great job of making you look expensive this season.

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Anita occasion necklace, £25, Accessorize; Circle stone round collar, £14, Accessorize


Images: J Crew, Elle UK, Style CasterThis Glamorous

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