10 last-minute partywear anxieties solved

Eleventh-hour outfits and how to look stylish while sieving the gravy – Frankie Graddon troubleshoots your festive-dressing hiccups. Sponsored by Next

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By Frankie Graddon on

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Hands up who’s ready for Christmas… No? Me neither. Despite having compiled approximately 20,000 gift guides, I am yet to buy a single present and I haven’t got round to booking my train home. When I last looked, National Rail was going to charge me half my monthly pay packet for a three-hour journey – seat not guaranteed. Delightful. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sang Andy Williams – he obviously hasn’t got the 10.02 from Paddington station on 23 December.

Anyway! Transport and gifting stresses aside, one thing that really needn’t be a pain this year is partywear. Why? Because I’m here. I have been compiling a list of all the potential pitfalls that come with getting dressed over the festive season and formulated a solution for each. From misjudged dress codes to how to look stylish when basting the turkey, all bases have been covered, leaving you to crank up the festive tunes and sink a couple of proseccos. It’s a Christmas miracle.

Help! I’ve got to go out tonight, but it’s too freezing to take my jumper off

I hear you and the fabulous news is you don’t have to. I have long subscribed to the high/low styling trick and this is exactly the situation where you can employ it to its full extent. Chuck on your oh-so-cosy winter jumper and simply razz it up with a sequin skirt. The casual appeal of knitwear provides the perfect balance to the spangle of sequins. This star-print number would look great with a black roll neck and you could even wear it with sock or ankle boots. Win.


Help! I’m hosting Christmas dinner this year. How do I do it while still looking stylish?

Turkey juice and partywear do not traditionally make for a harmonious pairing; however, it is possible to retain a modicum of chicness while plating up stuffing balls. For ease of movement, I’d suggest a jumpsuit and something printed to hide the inevitable red-wine stains. Steer clear of anything with flappy sleeves – devils for dunking themselves in the gravy. 


Need a sassy house shoe? I can think of nothing lovelier than these fuzzy leopard slides.


Help! There are party dresses as far as the eye can see, but I’m not a frock sort of person

Lord knows I love a midi, but even I can admit that there are times when a climbing into a dress feels less than desirable. If your idea of a good night out involves trousers, then may I direct you towards an evening jumpsuit?  This printed number rings in at under £70.



Help! I’ve spent too long singing Mariah in the bathroom mirror and now have only three minutes to get myself ready

When you need an outfit in a hurry, nothing beats throwing on a jazzy jacket. You can be wearing your scruffiest jeans underneath, but with the quick addition of a statement something on top, everyone will be none the wiser. There are lots of embellished blazers on the high street at the moment, but for something a little different, try an embroidered kimono. I’d wear this one over a cami top with black skinnies and snazzy flats.


Help! I love sequins but have no idea how to wear them

’Tis undoutedly the season for spangle, but if you’re not a natural dresser-upper, it can be hard to know how to pull it off. I always find that a little goes a long way when it comes to sequins, so would suggest wearing something like a sequin cami top and pairing it with something classic such as wide-leg trousers. Or try wearing it over a pair of leathery leggings with a long-line blazer and sandals.


Help! How do you wear tights with a glam dress without looking like a nan?

My personal taste in party hosiery tends to steer away from the novelty towards the more subtle end of things. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had. I love the idea of a pair of sheer black tights with a tiny dash of sparkle by way of metallic thread. These would be the perfect accompaniment to a classic black frock or even worn under jeans with heeled sandals.


Help! I want to buy a new frock, but I don’t want it to only be for Christmas

If you’re in the market for a party-ready outfit that will live on after the Quality Street tin has been emptied, then my tip is to invest in animal print. A smash hit this autumn, animal print is still going to be big news as we head into the new season, meaning anything you buy now can be trotted out for months to come. I’d wear this leopard-print dress with a pair of party boots now, then switch them for white trainers in the new year.


Help! I’ve been invited to a party but have no idea what the dress code is

If there is one thing that makes getting dressed at this time of the year harder, it’s dress codes. How fancy is “cocktail dress”? Do I really need to adhere to the “fire and ice” office party theme? What does smart/casual actually mean – and can I wear jeans? In these confusing times, it’s wise to have a mighty-morphing outfit that you can dress up or down in the toilets once you’ve sussed the evening’s tone. Something like this polka dot would work brilliantly with a pair of ankle boots for a low-key night in the local, but could be dressed to the high heavens with fancy heels and a pair of spangly earrings if required. You could even pop it on with a pair of flip-flops come summer.


Help! I have no time to go home and change before heading out

When was the last time you spent time at home properly getting ready for a night out? I’m not sure I can remember. My getting-ready ritual more often than not involves a quick change in the the office toilets and some lippy shoved on in the back of a cab. If this sounds familiar, then we need to talk about non-crease outfits that can be whipped out of a bag come 6pm. Lace is brilliant at not showing creases and anything in black hides all sins. This off-the-shoulder top could be popped on with a pair of black work trousers or jeans, depending on what you’re already wearing. Stick on these pearl-drop earrings and you’re good to go.


Help! I usually spend my Christmas day in PJs, but this year we’ve got guests who don’t appreciate onesies

The worst has happened and an uptight relative/family friend is gate-crashing Crimbo, meaning you can’t veg out in elasticated trousers and slippers. Bah humbug, indeed. Never mind, this paisley-print wrap dress will cheer things up. You can always slip your tracky bots on underneath once the turkey has been carved. Just tell present company it’s a look Balenciaga is peddling. They’ll never guess.


Click here for the last-minute party solutions edit


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