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Party season dressing: “I hate traditional 'festive' fashion – this is what I wear during party season instead”

Bid so-long to sparkly dresses and ta-ta to tights, this is the festive dressing guide for those who prefer not to resemble the star at the top of the tree. 

As it pertains to dressing for party season, particularly during the seasonal sandwich that is the days that lie either side of Christmas Day, it is often believed that we should collectively aim to dress like the baubles, tinsel and stars that adorn our trees.

And make no mistake: these are festival faiths that I also share. It is absolutely and unequivocally the season to go bigger and harder and twinklier than ever before, all with a glass of something fizzy in hand. 

But what I cannot stand about festive fashion is dresses. There I’ve said it: I hate dresses and skirts and any other item of clothing which generally requires me to show my legs. So while I absolutely harbour aspirations of looking as fabulous as the baubles that line my tree, I do not have any ambition whatsoever to do so while wearing a vertiginous mini or knee-scraping midi or any other frock for that matter. 

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So where, exactly, does somebody like me, and perhaps you too, start with dressing their body for partying? Just like the decorations I reach for year after year, there is a party-ready pantheon of go-tos that I have come to rely upon, the same way I rely upon a glass or five of chianti on the Big Day itself.  

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These are party clothes that unashamedly work for the season of sparkle, but also beyond. In fact, they’re some of the hardest working pieces I have in my wardrobe; the ones that faultlessly deliver a smile, unlike some of the questionable gifts we may open from distant relatives we haven’t seen in a decade.

If you, like me, prefer your legs fully clothed, then consider this your bumper guide to festive fashion without one single dress in sight (hallelujah). 

Sequins and velvet are your friends  

Party outfit ideas 2021: what to wear for festive fashion when you don't like dresses
Party outfit ideas 2021: sequins and velvet are your friends

Don’t look away just yet. There has to be a compromise struck, after all, when it comes to festive fashion. While we dress despisers might not be willing to flash our pins to party in, that doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to the festive season’s embrace of sequins and velvet in the manner of a true style Scrooge.

For sequins and velvet don’t merely exist in the form of dresses and skirts; in fact, they come into their own when they work just that little bit harder, which is seen when sequins adorn jackets and blouses and velvet is crafted to make two-pieces and trousers.

Sleeping with Jacques, a whimsical Australian brand worth noting, are responsible for some of the most sumptuous velvet pieces in the game, while Whistles’ latest party-centric collection is full to the brim with subtle, yet no-less shimmering, sequins.

You need a two-piece party suit 

Party outfit ideas 2021: what to wear for festive fashion when you don't like dresses
Party outfit ideas 2021: two-piece suits are a party go-to

The hottest duo in the world of fashion around the time of Christmas? A two-piece party suit, of course. And their beauty shines brighter than that of a dress, for here is a chic and put-together ensemble that looks as good mid-dancefloor lunge as it does performing the caterpillar across the floor at the work party.

Their real virtue, however, lies in the fact that, as is so often the case with two-pieces, these are two entirely separate style entities in and of themselves. The jacket can be swapped out for a structured addition to a T-shirt and jeans get-up, while the trousers (the preferred style would ideally be wide-leg) can be paired with chunky trainers and a fitted It knit.

Kai Collective’s are crafted from plisse fabric in all colours of the rainbow – the emerald green gets our vote – while Sleeper’s feather-lined pyjamas, which make for decidedly perfect party pieces too, promise to add a splash of free-loving fashion fun. 

Colour is key 

Party outfit ideas 2021: what to wear for festive fashion when you don't like dresses
Party outfit ideas 2021: colour is key

Just because it’s dark outside, doesn’t mean your wardrobe ought to be. In fact, far from it. When eschewing dresses and skirts, instead look to joy-inducing bursts of fresh and juicy colours such as hot pinks and bright blues, the kind of colours that belie the dreariness of the time of year. Whether it be in the form of shirts, trousers, jumpsuits, jackets or coats, there’s a berry bright or a citrus shade for every party-goer this winter.

Monki’s hot pink three-piece suit, which comprises a blazer, vest and trousers, is a sure-fire party season win, while Ganni’s latest lime green lurex knits are the zesty way of embracing colour. 

The return of the power blouse 

Party outfit ideas 2021: what to wear for festive fashion when you don't like dresses
Party outfit ideas 2021: the return of the power blouse

Blouses are back in business this season, with everybody from Rixo to the upcoming relaunch of Dorothy Perkins embracing them. Their virtue is clear: for those for whom party dressing is a total headache (and not the sort induced by copious amounts of cocktails), a power blouse introduces you to the room perfectly before you so much as have to utter a word. Pair with your favourite jeans or wide-legged trousers and a statement jacket for a popping, party-ready look that remains pared-back at the same time.

In true Rixo style, the British brand’s retro blouses confirm that the pussybow style of yesteryear is very much back with a vengeance, while Reformation’s plunging silk blouses that comprise its holiday collection are crying out to be debuted at your work get-together. You’ll be the life of the party in no time. 

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Images: courtesy of brands.