Being invited for Christmas Drinks in November is basically a D-List festive celebration. As I understand it, friendship importance is directly proportionate to how close to the 25th December your Christmas Drinks invite is. November is pretty far removed.
Festive dress themes at these soirettes always startle me. The Christmas jumper theme seems to still be the most popular, but I feel that since the staff at Dabbous wore them last year in a genius December uniform choice, no one can beat that coup. There are some amazing American vintage Christmas jumpers readily available online and at vintage emporia such as Beyond Retro if this does take your fancy though; superbly kitsch and wonderfully three-dimensional. They are also in abundance on the high street, from New Look, M& S and even Peacocks getting in on the, ahem, irony.
However, I claim to possess the best ever Christmas jumper, which is the ‘Love Heart’ jumper I designed for the final series of E4’s ‘Misfits’. It is the ultimate piece of bespoke knitwear, even if Rudy Too and Electro Girl in love may not seem that festive to many. There is something great about red in the winter, and also green – and anything glittery come to think of it. They all seem to draw me in when we reach the coldest part of the year, but can you wear these colours from November through to February without everyone telling you that you look like an elf? Most of us do not vibe Zooey Deschanel in the ultimate Christmas movie Elf, so I start to question wearing any of the aforementioned in the run-up to Christmas.
I think the key is to go for one incredibly boom-coloured element, and keep the rest fairly plain, chic and not make an extensive departure from your usual look. Jewel tones are a really good option for a little sophistication; think ruby instead of postbox, emerald instead of grass, sapphire instead of sky – you get the picture. Miu Miu is a constantly great example of pop colour, and this emerald green Miu Miu-esque mini from Topshop is an affordable start. It would look glamorous and perfectly festive with a simple, well-cut black tee or vest tucked in, black opaque tights and a pair of luxe satin heels. Hot fuschia, orange, cobalt: a pop of bright in a strong, expensive-looking fabric is the key. Buy a strip of brightly coloured taffeta and fashion a neck or wrist tie as per A/W 2013 Miu Miu – most fabric shops’ smallest cut (20 or 25cm) is the perfect width.
Other tricks to Miu Miu your existing wardrobe? Buy a half metre of brightly coloured taffeta fabric and stitch to the hem of a petticoat – this easily transforms a plain skirt into something a bit more fun, and will make older styles become an on-trend mid calf length with ease. Amd chunky rhinestones glued onto heels work a treat.
If colour scares you then go for navy (or black if you absolutely must) and look for interesting fabric mixes and luxurious textures. Cos has some great pieces for all shapes, sizes and ages; fine knit sack dresses with silk panels look wonderful with sparkly lurex tights and flats.
The easiest way start is with your very own wardrobe. Pull out anything red, green, luxe, jewelly, sparkly or crystalled that you own. Tops, socks, tights, trousers, frocks, shoes, statement jewellery – you name it. My general rule is one piece of this can be worn with black or navy to successfully avoid elfdom/top-of-the-tree-fairyness. Mixing a bright colour with white or cream knits can also create a very sweet and suitably wintry look, try Tesco’s cable knit tights.
If you are severely lacking in the sparkle department and all of your clothes are monochrome then the cheapest, simplest – and most likely to fit in with your style – is to invest in some lurex tights or socks. American Apparel’s sparkle tights give great glitter, as do Jonathan Aston’s anklets. Lurex lends a lovely 1960s feel to legs, and is a very simple way to get a bit of vintage swagger into your wardrobe. Full tights look amazing under little black dresses, with black flats or low block heels; and for the older reader, get your witchy on as they look FAB underneath longer-line midi or full length skirts too.
Velvet is a certainty for this time of year. You can go thrift and buy some velvet ribbons from your local haberdasher to wear as a belt with your favourite jeans or dress, in your hair or long skinny lengths round the wrist à la Carrie Bradshaw. Or go big and invest in these, aka the boots of dreams, from Brit shoestress Penelope Chilvers. They are the sexiest, most feminine and absolutely perfect ankle boots I have ever seen. As a short-of-leg gal, I generally need to be careful with ankle boots, but these are slender enough with a good heel to create a great leg-lengthening line for me, and it goes without saying they look wonderful on those with longer pins.
For my fellow flats wearers, smoking slippers are still in vogue; everything from the deliciously extravagant pussycats from Charlotte Olympia to these much more reasonably priced Mango numbers. Penelope Chilvers has become the unofficial chief purveyor of the slipper, using traditional Catalan techniques to create espadrilles using natural jute and constructing them by hand. Her Dandy Slippers are bespoke – like Nike iD but waaay chicer – you design your own from the slipper template. Suede or velvet? Embroidered palm tree motif or monogrammed initals? Ruby red or classic navy?
To summarise; the trick is to invest in one thing that has Christmassyness about it, but that you know will work on a long term basis. Velvet boots or slippers are perfect with bare legs, interesting ankle socks or betighted limbs, so they are multi-season purchases. A jewel-toned skirt, dress or shirt in silk or satin is equally versatile. Lurex socks or tights give you a vintage bit of glitz for next to nothing. Full-on Christmas jumpers frighten the life out of you? Go for an outrageous earring to show you are not a total misery.
Yes, please do cheer the hell up. December dressing doesn’t need to bankrupt you – you probably have everything you need in your wardrobe, you just need to look at it differently. Don’t over elf in colour, and I recommend keeping accessories to a minimum with any red, green or glitz in order to avoid baubleganger. You can smile at Christmas, you can wear glitter at Christmas, but you can still look chicety chic whilst doing so.