I'm going to say it – it's almost upon us. Yes, I’m talking about party season. Actually, you know what? That's not true, is it? Does anyone actually have a full-on party season? Surely, for most of us, it's just a couple of drinks after work, for which a garland of tinsel would be enough to add that festive touch?
Do we really have to go full-on sequintastic? When was the last time you needed a full-on glitzy party dress? And, chances are, you already have one of those gathering dust from when you bought it a decade or so ago, convincing yourself that all your party dilemmas would be solved with a midi sequin number. That will be the one time you wore it, yeah?
In this day of conscious fashion, forget buying something for the "party season". Yes, absolutely treat yourself to something new, but make sure it's something that you can wear come mid-January, when you're lamenting the fact that only the blue Quality Street are left.
And the best thing about alternative partywear? Chances are, you already have most of the outfit already. With the addition of just one new item, you can be "party"-ready in no time, without feeling like a plonker in the pub for the rest of the year. Partywear that earns its keep – that's what we're looking for. And here’s how to find it.
The wear-anywhere blouse
This is one you will get more wear out of than you thought imaginable – the ultimate top that will work for, well, work, but also weekends with jeans, a biker and trainers. Leather leggings would create the perfect ensemble, but pretty much any pair of trousers is going to be the ideal partner for this vision of black and gold.
The shoes you can dance in
Or, should I say, boots. And why boots and not shoes? Because they are just infinitely more practical. These are the boots that you can wear out of the house. These are the boots that you can wear on the Tube, to work, in the rain – basically anywhere (I'm pretending it's not going to snow this year). I love an embellished pair of shoes as much as the next Imelda Marcos, but they really are the equivalent of slippers. Unless you live in much sunnier climes. In which case, crack on. But if you cohabit our VERY rainy island, believe me, a pair of boots that you can wear both to a party and running for the bus are ones that should be snapped up.
Did I mention they're metallic? My work here is done.
The glittery knit
What's the one thing that we wear on repeat in the winter? Why, that would be a jumper. So, imagine a jumper that you can ALSO wear to a party. Yes, it's gold. Is it "you can see me from space" gold? No. It's subtle, it's elegant, it works perfectly for both dressing down and dressing up. It's also a timeless style that you will have in your wardrobe for years. That perfect top you can reach for when you really don't know what to wear. Plus, it will actually keep you warm. Bonus.
The non-naff clutch
If in doubt, get this bag out. While clutches are typically a bit naff, a textured, slogan style feels a lot fresher and adds a touch of irreverence to your outfit – which, let’s face it, is what any Christmas party could do with. Whether you’re wearing a midi dress and boots or jeans and heels, this bag feels suitable for every eventuality. It’s also big enough to actually house your belongings, which can’t be said of most party bags.
THE SNAZZY TOP
Rule 101 of a Christmas Do (even if it is only drinks) is that there must be at least a teensy bit of sparkle. And if you don't want to buy a garment that glitters, then a subtle ruffle detail will do the trick.
I would wear this with jeans and a pair of heels for a more dressed-down approach to the festive season. Yes, it’s off-the-shoulder, making it feel instantly dressier than most tops, but it’s also in black, which means it goes with everything and won’t make you feel like a sore thumb.
THE COMFY TROUSERS
Leather leggings. I KNOW, I know, they sound all sorts of wrong, but once you've tried these on, there is no going back. They are the ultimate in investment pieces, but you honestly will be amazed at the versatility they add to your wardrobe. For the party season, all you need is to throw on a silk shirt, blazer and heels, and you are transformed into pared-back elegance personified. For Christmas Day, change the heels for embellished flats and, come Boxing Day, wrap yourself in knitwear and add chunky boots, and you have the perfect dog-walking outfit. Cost-per-wear at its best.