Dress sense: how to look your best this Christmas

The catwalks offer a treasure trove of looks for men and women this party season

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 December, 2015, 12:45pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 December, 2015, 12:45pm

Every time I see the dress code “festive” on an invitation, renditions of Mr Darcy’s Reindeer sweatshirt from Bridget Jones’ Diary dance through my head. Dressing up for holiday parties can test even the most stylish, only because there are so many areas where one can go wrong, from piling on the bling to wearing too much green and red. As a result everyone ends up looking like a Christmas tree or playing it super safe because they don’t want to be the topic of water cooler gossip the next day.

This Christmas, however, have no fear, because help is here. While there are no steadfast rules to follow, there are many appropriate options from current and upcoming runway collections that will make the job of dressing up that much easier.


Every woman needs a fabulous cocktail dress in her holiday arsenal and while you can’t go wrong with a classic LBD (little black dress), winter white is a more sophisticated and unexpected choice. When it comes to silhouettes, it’s all about the shoulder as dictated by the spring runways. Local designer Melissa Bui’s off-the-shoulder dress ticks all the right boxes.

Another big trend this season and next is the slip dress, which popped up at brands such as Celine and Givenchy. While it may sound more appropriate for summer months, you can easily wear it on top of trousers or layer it with a slouchy knit cover-up for a casual yet chic party look.

Also making a comeback this season is the wrap dress, which fits in perfectly with the 1970s vibe seen at brands such as Diane von Furstenberg and Balmain. Forgo shorter styles in favour of floor-length versions which are elegant enough for black-tie events.

Those who prefer not to wear a full-length evening gown should experiment with embellished maxi skirts which were all over the autumn catwalks. Marc Jacobs paired his dark styles with fitted jackets for a modern take on the Victoriana look. If you want to keep it simple, channel Sharon Stone at the Oscars and pair your statement skirt with a simple button-down white shirt.

If trousers are more your speed, then a Le Smoking tuxedo, as immortalised by Bianca Jagger, is a tried and tested classic. But instead of going braless, take cues from Alexander McQueen and wear a sexy lace bra or body suit underneath to add a feminine touch.

Lace continues to be a popular fabric this winter, but try a jumpsuit instead of a dress to stand apart from the rest. Other party-approved fabrics include brocade as seen at Dries van Noten, Jacquard as offered by Tory Burch, or velvet which although heavy, looks rich in jewel tones such as red or emerald.

When it comes to embellishments swap the usual heavy crystal beading for feathers, which add movement and drama. There’s nothing more chic than marabou feathers decorating the hemline of a jacket or covering a simple sweater. A faux fur cover-up, be it a vest or jacket, is another winner. British brand Shrimps offers bold colours such as pink or even blue for a playful look.

A final word on accessories. While it’s tempting to go overboard with the bling, less is more. Choose shoes with an encrusted heel or even better, opt for a bejewelled flat that’s glam yet comfy. As for your handbag it should be hands-free (a crossbody is order of the day) so you can enjoy that glass of champagne.


It may seem like men have fewer options than women when it comes to dressing up, but it’s all about thinking outside the box. Sure a classic two- or three-piece tuxedo is de rigueur for that splashy New Year’s Eve bash, but if you want to make a statement, it’s all about experimenting.

Styling tricks can help take your tux from traditional to avant-garde. Swap a classic white shirt for a black or printed style. Try a double-breasted jacket or opt for modern details such as broad-peak lapels, turn-back cuffs or an oversized bow tie.

Designers such as Tom Ford have also upped the style ante by designing mismatched tuxedo jackets, usually from a different fabric or with a funky pattern. Even contrasting colours like white will stand out.

Some men may even want to forgo the jacket altogether and throw on a leather coat for a cool look. When a party calls for a more casual dress code, a funky blazer will usually do the trick.

Velvet jackets have made a comeback this season, as seen at brands such as Lanvin. You can even pair it with jeans, but be sure to finish the look with matching slippers.

Other cover-up options include shawl collar cardigans, which are perfect for the winter.

Last but not least, don’t forget to inject festive touches into your holiday attire. Opt for wintry fabrics such as cashmere, in dark shades of burgundy, green or even grey.

Tweed is another perennial favourite and looks super modern when cut into a slim suit. December is probably the only time of year men can get away with plaid – just steer clear of the red and green colour combinations and you are ready to go.