Few occassions are as divisive, sartorially-speaking, as a Christmas party. Be it your office do, an evening out with old friends or a full-blown family reunion, it's tricky to strike the balance between more-dressed-up-than-usual and help-I've-inadvertently-come-dressed-as-Mariah-Carey. Luckily, the high street has plenty of options that won't make you feel like a Christmas bauble in a sea of smart-casual cool kids. The Pool team tried them out...
Rainbow sequins and red boots are two things I never imagined that I would wear. Yet, here I am; it's the Christmas party and somehow I am donning both. Together. And I have never felt so festive.
I am very much a jeans and jumper kind of person, so I stayed true to my normal formula but just jazzed it up a bit. As I say, I wouldn't normally go for something so "statement" but I have to say, this combo made me feel a million dollars. My friends have never received so many selfies from me.
I find it extremely hard to do party wear in winter, especially when it's cold and I can't get my head around the prospect of getting my legs out, even if they're wrapped in 80 deniers. Trouser suits? Now you're talking.
This little Zara tux makes me feel all "Kate Moss" (note the word "feel", not "look"), especially teamed with sharp-toe eighties-style boots and a skinny scarf – which was a total afterthought and not at all "me", but surprisingly worked. This Christmas, I am so very rock 'n' roll – at least, in my head.
While I love an excuse to dress up, I loathe the process of finding suitable outfits and consider comfort to be my number one priority. I chose this New Look jumpsuit based on the fact that, well, when I tried it on and realised that I could actually move in it – squats and all – there was no looking back. I'm generally opposed to ever wearing heels, so I went for a pair of block heeled shoes, which are so comfy I could genuinely wear them all night long.
I realise that all-black is not necessarily the most festive of looks, so I chose bright red accessories to make me feel more in the spirit. I wouldn't normally coordinate my earrings with my bag but actually, I received so many compliments, I might have to reconsider.
I bought this Finery dress back in the summer, mainly for the purpose of wafting through the streets of San Sebastián. I wore it once, and have been looking for an excuse to wear it again ever since. I'm chronically overdressed for everything (out of choice, not accidentally, I might add) so it can be difficult to find an outfit that makes me look dressed up, without people assuming it's my wedding day. This dress is ideal; I love the length, it's comfy and I think it looks far more expensive than its high street price tag might suggest.
The mixed print gives you enough to look at – I didn't feel the need for lots of accessories. Just a pair of red velvet shoes because, well, it's Christmas.
During winter, I instinctively reach for black things, as do most of my friends. As a result, whenever I arrive at a party, I end up feeling a bit resentful because for all my efforts, I look almost exactly the same as everyone there. While this Topshop dress is black (read: in my comfort zone), I love the glittery, starry print. It made me feel like I stood out – in a good way.
These Monsoon shoes are exactly the type of shoes I've always dreamed of wearing – dramatic and sparkly – but have never been brave enough (I consulted at least six people in the office before deciding on them). Honestly, I want to wear this outfit everywhere.
I love this M&S dress – it's so comfortable, but made me feel really slinky. Like I could still look glamorous standing at the bar with a cocktail even after having eaten my bodyweight in Christmas pudding half an hour before.
As for the shoes, you can't go wrong with black heels – but the fact that both the shoes and the dress are velvet just made me feel even more glamorous.
The trousers are figure hugging but still comfortable – I feel like I could easily dress them down for work, giving me one less thing to think about at the end of the day when I need to get my gladrags on.
I don't think I've ever felt more fabulous than I did in this suit. I know that, on paper, it might sound more Father Christmas than fancy but, believe it or not, I have never received more compliments than I did when I put this on. Most people thought it was an astromically expensive, designer suit, which helps me justify the price; it's more than I would usually spend on an outfit but, when it looks this good (and will last) who can argue? After Christmas, I'll be wearing the blazer with jeans and tees.
I am quite shy, sartorially-speaking. I know what I like – dark, clean lines, the 60s and 70s, high necks, and popping red lipstick – but I’m hardly experimental. I don’t like glitter or girlish sparkle. I’m not into Christmas tinsel, and find parties slightly awkward at the best of times. So why am I so excited to wear this glittery, sparkly, gold – gold! – dress when The Pool parties later this month?
I can’t tell you exactly, but I am surprised that, when I put it on, I feel like a bit of a fox in it. I like the snug feel of the heavy, ribbed fabric around my tummy, the way the length elongates the tall frame I've historically resented, the high collar and the exuberance of it. It’s gold. It’s long. It’s a proper party dress and, in it, I am fit for a proper party.
Photography: Claire Pepper
With thanks to Bobbi Brown for providing make-up for the team