So, continuing on from this week’s quick post about party tops, today I’m going to have a longer look at Christmas party wardrobe planning. Thank you for your response to my post on Sunday, it’s great to know that so many people are being selective about where they shop. The high street looks very different this year however, there is one big store group that we can always rely on to do the right thing and that’s John Lewis & Partners. I’m thrilled to be working closely with them this Christmas and this is the first of three posts that I’ll be bringing you, looking at what’s in store.
Christmas 2018 – the zeitgeist
Before I go into specific party looks, I want to talk about the direction that I’m noticing for this season. Christmas 2018 is a very relaxed event. Across the board I’ve noticed that brands have far fewer ‘party pieces’ than usual. I’d say it comes partly in the wake of athleisure and a much less formal approach to style in general. However I’m also sensing that this Christmas is a little different all round. The focus is on buying less but buying better; reducing waste and a new consideration of the composition of garments and their impact on the environment. The high/low looks that I’m going to show you today reflect this. They’re multi-tasking outfits that you can wear from desk to dinner, perhaps by just swapping the jumper and flats that you wore in the day for a camisole and party shoes.
There’s a new mood of clothes being for ‘life, not just for Christmas.’ Christmas 2018 is less about consumption and more about experience – making your home look extra festive for time spent there with family and friends, thinking about the food and drink you’re going to enjoy together and the games you’re going to play.
Christmas party wardrobe planning
So let’s begin with a planned approach. When I start shopping for partywear, I find it’s easy to get carried away by feathers and glitter and if I’m not careful, I end up with a wardrobe based on the life that I imagine I live rather than the one that I actually do. The best tactic is to write a list of events that require a touch of sparkle. So if we take my run up to Christmas as an example, I have a couple of formal black tie events in November this year but after that my list looks like this:
- Work Christmas lunch (goes on v late)
- 2 x evening drinks with clients
- 1 x night out with girls
- 3 x nights out / in with other couples
- Village carol service and drinks in pub afterwards
- 1 x lunch and theatre trip on Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
- Post Christmas walk with my brother and his family
- Buffet supper with all my siblings
- Visit to mum-in-law for another Christmas dinner with Mr MC’s family
- New Year’s Eve, small party with friends
- New Year’s Day, brunch with friends
I usually buy a couple of new party outfits for Christmas but what my list tells me is that I although I’m drawn like a magpie to formal frocks covered in marabou and sequins, I don’t really have an occasion for them. What I need is hardworking sparkly separates which is exactly the approach to Christmas party wardrobe planning that Anna Murphy, Fashion Director for The Times has taken in her shoot for John Lewis & Partners. So let’s look at that first, then I’ll share a trying on session that I did on Saturday at the Oxford Street store.
Luxe Glamour from John Lewis
Enjoy these shots because here you have all the glamour – when it comes to mine we’ll be back down to earth!
Cashmere and sequins
The trend for sequins next year is going to be for supersized ones and here you see them coming through already. This is a lovely midi with slits up the side for easy movement but if you prefer more coverage, you could wear it with opaques. The dressed down cashmere jumper is where the relaxed mood comes in. I think the detail I really love about this outfit though is the fact that the shoes introduce a third colour and texture, making them a statement in themselves. The end result is insouciant glamour – there’s no matchy matchy going on here.
This outfit looks great – I wanted to see it from the front so I was hoping to try it on in store on Saturday but they didn’t have my size. However, as you can see, the trend for modest fashion with no flesh on show is still going strong. Here it is transformed into partywear with the use of gleaming metallics. Again there there is a relaxed, thrown together mood – the colours tone but don’t match.
Silk and lurex
Now this is exactly what I mean when I talk about an outfit you could wear with a jumper and boots during the day, making a quick switchover for the evening. This lurex skirt is due to arrive at John Lewis & Partners next week and I’ll update the link as soon as it does. It’s the sort of versatile piece that would tick off a few of my occasions and the chevron pattern has a slimming effect, balancing out the volume of the pleats. You can see me trying the silk camisole further on in the post.
Here’s a close-up of the detail on the sandals; snake, of course, is the print of the season. I have to point out how flattering they are to the heel of the foot – the depth of the leather will be much kinder to winter skin and there’s almost no need for a pedicure!
Moving on, we’ve already discussed how key green is this season, not just in fashion but in home too. The structure of the polo neck dresses down the lustre of the skirt but the lurex sparkle means it is party ready.
Co-ords are always good value because you can wear them together, as in this shot, and separately too. These are echoing the pyjama trend although it’s unlikely that anyone would confuse them with nightwear.
I saw this dress in store on Saturday, it comes in pink too and there’s a skirt version which you’ll see me trying on in a minute. If there’s one big trend for Christmas 2018 it’s lurex which is a particularly good option for packing in a bag if you’re on the move because it’s very lightweight and virtually uncreasable.
A cropped velvet jacket
A velvet jacket is always a good choice because you’ll wear it again and again throughout the year, dressed up with a blouse like this or dressed down with jeans and a t-shirt. This jacket hasn’t arrived in store yet but is en route – I’ll update the link as soon as I’m notified.
A John Lewis & Partners trying on session
You’ve already seen my black tie choice for this season. This is the dress that I bought for the ’50 Amazing Women Over 50 Awards’. When I showed it to you last time, it was sold out at John Lewis & Partners but they’ve now restocked in all sizes.
As you know, it drapes beautifully should you need to recline on a chaise longue!
We were in John Lewis & Partners on Saturday and so I had a trying-on session. Here’s my first sweep around the shopfloor.
I loved the colour of this dress, the sleeves and the neckline. If it had been a bit longer (or I had been a bit shorter) it would have been a contender.
This dress was lovely but Mr MC advised me to step away from the red – as you know I already have several red dresses. If I didn’t, I would have tried it – it has a ruffle down the front that makes me think of the dancing lady emoji 💃so it’s perfect for a party!
Not that I’m a creature of habit but here I’ve been drawn to blue velvet… I already have the Awards dress above in blue velvet along with two blue velvet jumpsuits.
Whistles jumpsuit – available in store and arriving online next week
And next I found a gold dress but… I already have the gold dress I wore for the blog awards in April
All of these dresses are lovely – please buy one and let me know so that I can enjoy them vicariously through you!
It was time for a cup of tea and a pep talk from Mr MC about stepping out of my comfort zone and finding styles and colours that I don’t already have. Back on the shopfloor, this jumpsuit was different. I got a confused look from the man behind the camera but I decided to take it into the fitting room to try, along with a number of other things I picked up from the rails.
Before I share my fitting room session, I’m just going to share a personal opinion with you after my foray into the modest look last Christmas. I found that although I like the longer lengths / wider legs / long sleeves, the high neckline doesn’t suit me. It’s fine during the day but for evening, it made me feel round-faced and frumpy. So everything I decided to try had to have an open neck.
Fitting room session
Now I need you to bear in mind that we were in the depths of the store for these shots so there was no natural light and I look slightly green but at least I can give you an idea of how things look. I tend to feel more confident when I wear trousers or a jumpsuit for evening events. I don’t know why but I think it’s something to do with making a statement without looking as though you’ve tried too hard. Here’s the polka dot jumpsuit which is made from high quality, heavy, drapey jersey. I was experimenting with the belt and I’ve wrapped it round my waist twice here but it would look better just tied casually at the front.
The second outfit was a jumpsuit again, this time in velvet with a festive hint of silver lustre, accessorised with a fab fur stole.
Moving on, here I was trying to work out if I preferred the silk cami untucked…
… or tucked in. Now I’ve wanted to try one of these silk camisoles for a while because people rave about them. The great thing is that they’re cut high and so they cover the décolletage. If you have a large bust though you’ll need to size up – I’m wearing a size 12 here and it’s tight… and I certainly don’t have a large bust. The camis come in charcoal as I’m wearing here, along with vanilla, blue steel, lavender; rose or blackcurrant.
I wanted to try a velvet jacket as part of the outfit. This is listed as red on the website but I’d say it’s more of a brick orange colour – size up, it comes up small. The sequinned trousers are fab, true to size and I would happily wear them with a jumper and boots for daytime.
Next up was a dress. As I mentioned, lurex is everywhere this season and I really love this. The lighting has drained my face in all of these shots but even taking that into account, I know the gold would suit me better than the pewter. If you have a cooler complexion than me, it’s very flattering and true to size.
And then finally I was playing around with the faux fur again – I love these stoles. This is the skirt version of the green dress in the John Lewis & Partners shots.
I’ve teamed it with a velvet jacket that is trimmed with tassels so the whole outfit shimmies as you move……as you can see.
So, those are just a few ideas that I put together on a very busy Saturday on Oxford Street. There are other brands that have strong party options including Karen Millen and Ghost but they weren’t available in-store. There’s one thing I’d like to mention though. Did you know that lots of brands are now designing pieces that are exclusive to John Lewis & Partners? You won’t see them anywhere else, even in the brands’ own stores – you can find them all here including designs from labels such as Whistles, Hobbs and Jigsaw.
I hope I’ve given you plenty to think about but there’s lots more festive outfit inspiration in John Lewis & Partners’ dedicated party section. Have a wonderful day and I’ll be back tomorrow with another post… I’m on a roll at the moment.
Disclosure: ‘Christmas party wardrobe planning’ is in collaboration with John Lewis & Partners but the outfits I selected to try on and my thoughts are, as always, my own
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