I love a good party, and as I’ve said before I think one of the major benefits of being female in a corporate environment is that I don’t have to wear a suit to a party. I’ve been to more than my fair share of shindigs populated by a hoard of sweaty middle aged men, while I swish about in a breeze generated by my own voluminous skirt and it’s a real moment of quiet joy (the swish, not the sweat). I appreciate, however, that there are plenty of people out there who don’t throw back the wardrobe doors with excitement at the prospect of dressing for a party, so here it is: part one of “what the feck should I wear to a Christmas do?”.
There’s always a dress code for these sorts of things, be it express or implied, and I remember all too well the stress of finding something to wear for my first ever work Christmas party. That was in 2005, so I’ve moved past the flat panic that arose from having no idea, no options in my wardrobe, and no real money to buy anything, but there’s still a moment when you get invited somewhere new and you have to give it a wee think. This year, my work has declared that the dress code for our Christmas party is “clothing”, which is a great way to ensure that everyone can wear what they want, but realistically if I show up in a sequined bodycon jumpsuit it’s going to be the wrong thing to wear (nobody wants to see their coworker in skin tight sequins). See? Implied dress codes.
I think the safest bet is always a Christmas-lite version of a look – so something that says “I know it is Christmas but also I could walk to the shops in this to buy milk and not attract too many stares”. Throw in a bit of your own preferences and you’re onto the winning combo: comfy for you, comfy for your colleagues. “Comfy for me” means a bit of razzle dazzle, something swishy for dancing in (without too much flashing potential when I get twirly) and something that makes me feel glam. I am a big believer in the motto that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed for an event, so take that on advisement.
On that note, nothing says “it’s Christmas, pass me the champagne” like a bright green dress in a traditionally feminine cut (I bought this one in an op shop). It’s almost wrong to wear this dress without holding a flute of bubbly alcohol in one hand, such is its party-ness. Obviously the colour is the first clue, but the shimmery shot fabric and the cut of the collar and skirt also add to its overall fabness. I’d love to get a spray of red berries (holly!) to wear on the collar, and switching out the belt for a red or tartan option would also add another layer of Christmas magic to the look. You could take it up another notch with Christmas themed accessories – I’d go for these great star earrings at Mrs Rockett – perfectly Christmassy without being (a) the result of child labour and (b) unwearable for the rest of the year.
The real secret to dressing up for a Christmas do is the shoes – so while I love the silver metallic with the green dress here, there’s no way in holy heck I would wear these to a party. They are cripplingly high, even for me, and at 35 years of age I am trying to avoid a scenario where I have to walk the city streets in my bare feet having taken my shoes off in agony. These shoes are for dinners and shows only. Most of the Christmas events I get invited to are centered around either standing for hours “networking” and eating canapes, or follow this pattern: mingle over drinks, sit for dinner, up for dancing. If you see me dancing in these shoes for more than half an hour, please know I am more drunk than I have any right to be at a work event. Bring me a water and a pair of flats, stat. The ideal party shoe is either a platform sandal (which I wore last year), although these can be murder on the knees if you start “jump-dancing”, my number one move, or a pair of low-heeled party shoes.
Find out what you can about where your event will be held. It gets bloody hot at events where there are lots of attendees, so if you’re good with a short sleeve I strongly recommend it. I wore this dress to a princess themed birthday party (for a five year old) and it was BAKING HOT thanks to its entirely synthetic fabrication and the sunniness of the particular day. Don’t do this – try and opt for silk or cotton (or bamboo, linen, etc etc) – unless you really vibe with a particular dress/top/etc and just have to wear it. I’d wear this to an indoor event where I knew there would be aircon; I would not wear it to (for example) an outdoor event in a winery where shade would be limited.
So that’s look one: a pretty party dress that really can’t offend the senses, while also providing a good foundation for a more individualised outfit. This is where a nice dress in a block colour becomes a wardrobe hero – a black dress with a red belt and some snowflake earrings would give a good Christmas effect too, and that’s not an expensive option to pull together. Key takeaways here:
1. Comfy for you, comfy for your colleagues
2. Think about what you will be doing (so you can pick appropriate shoes!)
3. Think about where you will be doing it (so you can pick appropriate fabrics!)
4. Accessories are what Christmas looks are all about
Photos by Nia Turley (check her out here)