How to shine with our fashion tips for the winter party season
Here are some helpful hints to have you bang on trend for those end-of-year soirées
Ridiculous Christmas jumpers, woolly hats, comedy socks and "Santas" stumbling down Wyndham Street with a cigarette and beer in hand - the festive season, more often than not, is about frivolity and fun rather than serious fashion. But with all the events, parties and end-of-year bashes on the calendar, December can also be a blockbuster month of style.
Fashionistas wore plenty of lace and graphic prints when it came to party season last year. Demure 1940s shin-skimming hemlines made a big impact, as well as slinky wide-leg trouser suits that recalled '70s bohemia. In 2014, however, they got more experimental with interesting textures and shapes, as couture's effect on ready-to-wear was evident in the winter collections.
Skirt lengths can range. Some are short and '60s-inspired, such as those found at Gucci, where outgoing creative director Frida Giannini offers little leather dresses with youthful ruffles and knee-high boots. There are fabulous floor-length ballgowns, including a sensual, draping creation from Emilio Pucci. Its asymmetrical design and mustard yellow hue shifts it from a classically feminine gown to an interesting and rather edgy one. The sliver of skin showing on the model's midriff makes it all the more enticing.
Prints are big news - and they veer from bold, artsy ones such as those found at Burberry or Marni to strong graphic types seen on dresses at Carven. In the same vein, bold embellishments hit a high note this season, with designers such as Mary Katrantzou, Valentino and Roksanda Ilincic making it central to their collections, often with daring three-dimensional effects. While Katrantzou's patchwork totemic runway madness might be a bit extreme for some, think of wearing a simple top or blouse with a busy embellished skirt and some sleek high heels.
Valentino's wispy embellished lace dresses evoke femininity and fantasy, but again you can keep it modern by pairing with something super minimalist such as one of those Hermès-inspired oversized masculine coats you are seeing everywhere; try brands such as J. Crew, Zara or Theory for more affordable options.
We're usually suspicious of metallics and overdoing the shine during the festive season. We've all cringed when this goes wrong, such as when your colleague turns up to the work do looking like a Las Vegas showgirl. But some designers have turned to metallic tones and glossy sheens on fabrics this winter, providing some great looks from which to take inspiration; just see Julien Macdonald's glittering collection or sparkles at a flapper-inspired Roberto Cavalli collection. An affordable option is new British boutique Phase Eight in the IFC Mall, which does affordable glitz and glam for all shapes.
When going for shine and glamour, keep fashion-forward by going for more elegant cuts, shapes and silhouettes rather than tight micro minis. We love the long and lean silky dresses at Lanvin, for example, cut high on the neck and providing for dramatic swishing entrances.
A shot of faux fur or feathers is a great way to amp up an outfit for the evenings, whether it's on accessories or a little jacket or shrug. Phoebe Philo at Céline manages to make those minimal, dark tunic outfits lush with a well-placed orange fur hand muff. And see how those big, furry collars and feather-cropped jackets add drama to Ralph Lauren's elegant winter line of dusky pinks and cool greys.
For an interesting colour palette this winter, look to pastels and fresh candy colours to make a statement, rather than traditional reds and blacks. Christian Dior has a lot to offer in this department for winter, with plenty of unexpected colour combinations such as pale pink and bright yellow, or fuchsia and green, on its colour-block layered dresses. This brings us neatly onto the high-thigh split that features in many of those dresses. We're fans of the thigh-split skirt this season and also the many fringed skirts we are seeing - it's a daring way to flash some skin without going too short; as well as being elegant and a bit naughty.
Print on print, such as the trouser suit and coat at Diane von Furstenberg, makes for a sophisticated evening outfit. Just make sure you have the confidence to pull it off, because all eyes will be on you. While last year celebrated demure wallflower chic, this winter we urge you to add a powerful twist to your look, and extra points for quirky accessories such as those by Sophia Webster, Charlotte Olympia and Hong Kong's own Kotur.
If all these outfits seem more playful than practical, that's the point. No one wants to see a dull, stormy sea of grey and black at their end-of-year knees-up. After years of serious, minimalist chic, designers are being delightfully experimental when it comes to eveningwear.