How to style out the (wardrobe) nightmare before Christmas

Wine, friends, family and surprise exes – Frankie Graddon on navigating the sartorial obstacle course that is Christmas Eve

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By Frankie Graddon on

And so, here we are: 17 December, with just seven short days until the big one – Christmas. You’ve wrapped your pressies, pre-made the pigs in blankets, whipped up a eucalyptus-branch centrepiece for the dinner table and had time to get your highlights done... JOKE. You’re two weeks into a hangover, have your fourth cold of the season and just discovered that all the pre-Chrimbo Ocado slots have been booked. Fabulous. And, what’s more, you’re yet to figure out what to wear on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve! The night where the ghosts of Christmas past congregate in the pub near your parents’ house. Ex-flames, shags and snogs, all haunting the corridors, clutching eggnog. Dressing to impress – or, at least, to signal that you are now a happy and successful adult who didn’t really like them, anyway – has never been so important. Then there’s the big school-friend reunion, the hard-to-judge dress codes, the tipsy trip to midnight mass and wine. So much wine. Phew. Here’s how to style it all out.

Nightmare scenario one: you walk into the local and slap bang into your ex

What’s Christmas without an awkward exchange with someone who has seen you naked and whom you no longer speak to, nor have seen in the last 10 years? “What’s that? You’re married. To a supermodel. Delighted for you! Me? No, no, single. Yes, still. More wine, anyone?” In this scenario, it is imperative to look good. Not too effort-y, though – nothing try-hard. Just casually knock-out in a low-key, but flawless, way. Jeans and a nice top is the only thing for it. Try Warehouse’s tiger-stripe pussy-bow blouse with a pair of black jeans and velvet sandals (I have been obsessing over this LK Bennett pair for months and they are now in the sale – hurrah).


Nightmare scenario two: you turn up at the annual friend gathering wearing the same thing as Sarah (the two of you used to be in the drama club at university together) 

Great minds think alike – you are the Wetherspoons equivalent of Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Stewart. How very Hollywood of you both. However, if, for you, twinning is in fact not winning, then you will need an emergency outfit tweak. Accessories are the way forward – stick a pair of gigantic earrings in your bag and perhaps a glitzy hair accessory. Try Uterqüe and A Weathered Penny for earrings. As for hair stuff, diamante slides are the current favourite of the fashion pack. Get the look from good old Accessorize with this moon and star set. Throw your hair into a scruffy bun, then stick the slides in wherever you fancy.


Nightmare scenario three: you arrive at midnight mass wearing a Christmas pudding dress and flashing antlers – everyone else is in jumpers and jeans

God love a misjudged dress code. The chances are you’ll be too sozzled to care that you’ve upstaged the entire congregation but, in the event that you do, try channelling festive cheer into a pair of jazzy tights, which are appropriate for every Christmassy occasion. Calzedonia's star-scattered pair are the stylish side of novelty, or try these sparkly socks from H&M. Wear them with your party sandals, or have them peeking out over the top of your ankle boots.


Nightmare scenario four: you’ve been invited to a swanky soiree, but have heard they’ve got a three-bird roast and PROFITEROLES for the buffet

The ultimate Chrimbo sartorial conundrum: you want to look like a slinky festive fox, but you also want to consume industrial amounts of canapés. As no one wants to hold back on the prawn rings, I would suggest steering yourself towards a pleated midi skirt with – crucial – elastic waistband. Wear with a cashmere crew neck (treat yourself – it’s Christmas) and twinkly jewellery. Skirts not your bag? Try a pair of stretchy-waist evening trousers, such as Me + Em's cigarette style.


Nightmare scenario five: you’ve had to duck out of your glitzy plans thanks to aforementioned cold. You are 90% snot, the other 10% purple Quality Street

Jackpot! This isn’t a nightmare at all; in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Embrace your best JOMO life by pouring another Lemsip and popping on a pair of posh PJs.


Click here for the Christmas Eve edit


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