Not so long ago, blingy layers of festive sparkle worn in the run up to Christmas was what ‘other’ people did. Certainly not how anyone with even a sliver of good taste might dress. And certainly not the behaviour of a discerning style maven whose look might best be described as polished but not too polished, stylish and yet not ‘victim’. Well not so in 2017 when shimmering sequins of silver, gold, green, pink, and cobalt blue- yes ,even altogether in the same outfit- are very much where it’s at this winter. And while no one wants to leave the house in a deluge of sparkly tat, this Christmas is fast shaping up to be the one where it’s perfectly acceptable – expected even – to go all out, Quality Street wrapper style, into the night.
For someone who might be described as Mrs Matt (I have never been drawn, magpie like to anything that sparkles) , I’ve already managed to acquire a twinkly silver top from Vanessa Bruno and a pair of sequin ankle boots, although admittedly these are black. But how do you pull any of this off when you’re allergic to high shine? This might sound like the biggest oxymoron but the secret to sequins this season is wearing them in a matt way.
Confused? By which I mean a dialled down way that comprises glimpses of bare skin rather than acres of it; very little jewellery- or better still, no jewellery. Certainly if you look at how sparkly outfits are styled up in magazines, there is noticeable absence of anything else. The models have simple hair, and even simpler make up. Michael Halpern is the name de nos jours but at £855, his Studio 54-esque embellished poloneck tops don’t come cheap. Thankfully this year, you are spoiled for choice on the high street for good quality sequins.
I played around with the VB top, and concluded that it looked better (cooler possibly) teamed with a pair of loose-fit boyfriend jeans and a trench although I ramped up the glamour quotient with a pair of red velvet heel heels. The high-wattage sparkle is so obvious that it resolutely needs other items to take it down a notch. When it comes to silhouettes, demure, covered-up dress shapes are very much the way to go here; get your legs out by all means with a high-necked, long sleeve top but put the cleavage away!
What else aids the high shine? Skin ideally should be squeaky clean and dewy (rather than caked in fake tan), the sort that looks as if you have the hottest power facialist on speed dial. If you don’t want to go the whole hog, there are items such as Attico’s stripe sequin bag or Raey’s rick rack socks (socks with a jewelled trim) which will pack a punch to your party get up. Really don’t think you can muster the sparkle? For those who are not comfortable channelling their inner Tinkerbell, here are some other stylish yet low shine options to address the stiffys that will be flooding through the door.
Still going strong and with good reason: what else says festive while adding a subtle, sophisticated sheen to your face. You’ll be hard pushed to find a high street brand that isn’t packed to the gunnels with this most tactile of fabrics. If you always presumed velvet equalled Santa, think again. Naturally, there’s the right and the wrong sort. The fashion sort of velvet has not too thick a pile nor is it too shiny or synthetic looking. It looks best when reworked into a very tailored, almost stiff trouser or skirt suit. Red is popular but how about trying rich jewel shades of olive or teal velvet.
At & Other Stories, a new collection inspired by Lou Doillon (Jane Birkin’s equally stylish daughter) includes a long sleeve black jumpsuit in a culotte style with a jewelled collar that is fast proving a sell out. Whistles meanwhile has a dedicated ‘velvet edit’ which includes a tea rose pink pleat dress that is very pleasing on the eye. Ditto the rose velvet trousers and the crush velvet wrap jacket.
Surely the reason that jumpsuits are still out in force is that they make you feel sassy and dressed up without having to worry that you’re going to spend the whole night tugging at a dress hem. There are no hoiked in waists to be hoiked at, yet you will still be showing a strong, clean and lean silhouette. I’d never actually worn one until I was seven months pregnant but even sans bump, I am hooked. We will ignore the going to the loo situation which is about the only downside and celebrate the fact that jumpsuits obviate the need for leg waxing apts or woolly tights. Plus, you get to wear ridiculously high shoes, without feeling as if you are going over the top or showing off too much leg.
Finally, a word of warning about bare backs. It may seem like the low maintenance option – ie no more worrying about boobs which resemble droopy socks post popping out a couple of children. And yet, I’m sorry to have to remind you that backless is a lot more high maintenance than you might possibly imagine: aside from the whole what bra? conundrum which is virtually a whole other feature in itself, you can’t just chuck a backless dress or top on and hope for the best.
Believe it or not, back facials are a plausible essential for the professional party goer. As is copious amount of body cream. Crucially however, you need to have a toned back, something achieved through regular encounters with single arm rows, reverse flys or using a resistance band to do lat pull downs. And less encounters with your children’s left over spaghetti bolognaise. A toned back readers, doesn’t just happen. Fortunately, bare shoulders are an easier one to pull off, mostly because it’s a bit harder to have fat shoulders something that the fashion Gods have finally woken up to.