Debbie from accounts is crying in the loos, the sausage rolls have gone stale and your line manager’s on her seventh Jägerbomb. Yes, it’s the Christmas party – the night that everybody pretends to forget for the next 364 days of the year. Aside from avoiding your boss, one of the major conundrums is often what to actually wear to one of these momentous occasions. Sometimes, to dress down is to appear in jeans at the pub, only to find yourself in a sea of J Lo’s at the Grammy Awards in 2000. Pile on the sequins and there’s the strong possibility that you end up feeling like Shirley Bassey at a Radiohead concert: ridiculous, out of place and generally confused. So, how to avoid such a sartorial nightmare? Team Pool stepped up to sample some of the best party options on the high street, so that, even if all else fails, at least everyone will be talking about your outfit for all the right reasons. Just don’t do a Debbie.
Surely everybody loves a bit of glitz at Christmas, but, for me, I need something to be wearable in the new year, as well. My usual barometer is: does it sparkle and can I wear it all night? Luckily, this jumpsuit fits the bill – it’s got a bit of a glittery finish but is slouchy, meaning you can team it with a polo neck and trainers for weekend days. Now, I need to talk about these shoes. As a dedicated shoe-obsessive, I can safely assure you that L.K.Bennett is completely amazing right now – these shoes are testament to that. Yes, they’re more expensive than something I’d usually buy but, when I’m wearing them, I can reach the heady heights of 5ft, run for a taxi in them and dance all night. They’re my new forever shoes.
Anyone who knows me, knows I always wear black. Even during this summer's heat wave, I was head-to-toe in noir. At this time of year, however, I do like to push the boat out a little and add an element of shimmer, sparkle or metallic, for a festive night out. Step forward, then, these trousers. They come with a matching jacket for anyone wanting to channel their inner Elton John, but, for me, a statement pair of shoes (either flats or mega-heels would work equally well) and some stand-out jewellery makes me feel suitably glam, without straying too far from my monochrome tendencies.
If a party has even a whiff of a dress code, then choosing an outfit for it is often an anxiety-inducing experience that can ruin the whole thing for me. Office Christmas parties, whether the dress code is formal or unspoken, are often, like so much of life, very binary – dresses or skirts or heels for women, suits or shirts for men. What's a non-binary babe to do? Well, in future, the answer will be to get Hannah Banks-Walker to be my pro-bono stylist. This navy velvet suit from Ted Baker ticks all the boxes: the right balance between glam and office-appropriate, on-trend velvet (is velvet ever not on trend, though?) and fun jazzy details in the buttons and shoes that made me feel Christmassy, but still like myself.
In my eyes, Christmas = glitter. It means bright colours, sparkles, heels and generally going all out. So much so, that I often forget the true power of an LBD. This high-necked Kitri midi is perfect for a more refined Christmas ‘do, but still keeps things jazzy with the tassels and leaves much more room for accessories. I fell in love with these star clips and, because my dress was quite simple, I didn't feel like wearing two was going too far. It's the same with the shoes – I'd never usually wear something so brilliantly ostentatious on my feet, but this outfit warranted these sparklers. Black dress added bonus: you can spill your wine and no one will know.
This outfit contains two of my current fashion loves – roll necks and witchy boots. The boots are from Whistles and have been on my wish list for months. As well as being au courant, the kitten heel gives a little lift, while still feeling comfortable (and they really are comfy), and I love the criss-cross laces, which feel very Hocus Pocus. I'm very into the idea of party boots, in general, seeing as they allow socks to be worn on a night out – no freezing toes for me, thank you.
When it comes to the roll neck, I've upgraded my everyday styles with a sprinkle of Lurex for festive cheer. I'm not into overly fussy things, so a sparkly jumper worn with black jeans always speaks to me. Having said that, the addition of this fabulous sequined skirt certainly makes the case for going OTT. I love the midi length, the fact that it's M&S and under £50. I'd also wear it with a plain navy or grey cashmere crew-neck, or even a white T-shirt.
To finish off, gold hoops and red lippy – my partywear failsafes.
My usual approach to party dressing is to copy Claudia Winkleman. Literally – stalk her first few Strictly looks (hot tip, follow her stylist, Sinead McKeefrey, on Insta), wait for a banging high-street frock and order online. Done. Thing is, I've had to accept I have a completely different shape to our Claud, so it's time to mix it up. Out goes Sinead and enter Pool stylist extraordinaire, Hannah Banks-Walker. This vintagey, drapey and – most importantly – long-sleeved frock was her pick and, as soon as I put it on, I was sold. Can't say I wasn't scared the satin would be a bit too K-Middy for me, but the (NEWSFLASH: COMFY) zebra heels make sure it's not too safe. Bonus points: I can dance in them for hours, thanks to a manageable low heel. Merry freaking Christmas.
I didn't think I was a person who might aspire to wear a gold, flared, velvet suit, but then, here I am. Dressed, ostensibly, like a very large, very soft, very glamorous banana – and absolutely loving it, all being told. Who wants to blend in at the Christmas party, anyway? Bring on the fizz. I'm ready.
I can’t say this jumpsuit is my usual style but, once I put it on, I was convinced. I think the key is just to add more casual elements to prevent it from looking too OTT. This bomber is perfect – snazzy enough to pass as party attire, it’s also super warm and will go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe. Given that the jumpsuit has wide legs, heeled boots seemed like the obvious option and, again, are practical. And the fact that I managed to swap my regular, plain black bum bag for this sequin number has pretty much made my Christmas.
Hair: Paul Percival using BaByliss
Make-up: Rowhan and Konstantinos offering Blow Ltd's make-up service (find out more here)