The trouble with Christmas party season (aside from drunk bosses, disappointing Secret Santa presents and anything involving an Iceland canapé buffet) is that it happens in winter. Standing in queues, trekking between bars, trying to capture the perfect ‘hey, I’m casually ice skating!’ selfie – all have the potential to leave us frostier than the proverbial snowman, and yet STILL thermal long johns still haven’t found their way onto any partywear must-buy lists.
Until that cosy day comes, the best we can do is kit ourselves out in the season’s best velvet frocks, insulating jumpsuits, glitzy cover-ups, and, that rare and beautiful unicorn of the high street, dresses with sleeves. Layer up and enjoy.
1. Best for illusionists: Velvet mesh sleeve heart dress, Motel
Mesh is fashion’s gift to chilly limbs, allowing you to look practically bare while actually providing a surprising amount of warmth. This bodycon number by Motel is also made from velvet, which happens to be both 2014’s favourite fabric and the closest you’re going to get to fleece while remaining party-appropriate.
Bodycon dress, £22, Motel[/nextpage]
2. Best for high drama: Feather cape, Topshop
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Seriously, is it a bird? No, it’s your new favourite cover-up!
Unless you belong to an amateur dramatics group you’re probably not going to have too many occasions to wear a petrol-black cape covered in real feathers, but imagine how cosy you’ll be wrapped up in this beauty at the Christmas party – and how many heads you’ll turn. Maybe some 360°, like an owl.
Shiny feather cape, £110, Topshop[/nextpage]
3. Best for ambiguous dress codes: Sequin collared dress, ASOS
Is it dressy? Or dressy-dressy? Or casual-casual? Or smart-casual? Does anyone know what smart casual means anyway?
Neatly solve all dress code dilemmas while also keeping your top half toasty warm in this brilliant sequin shift from ASOS. It’s business in the shape, party in the fabric – and might even look acceptable in your team meeting the morning after.
Sequin tank dress with white collar, £50, ASOS[/nextpage]
Skip the LBD and have a go at the LBJ instead. This elegant lace jumpsuit from Whistles will be snug, chic and easy to dress up with glam accessories – and you won’t need to de-tangle your tights pile.
Black wrapover lace jumpsuit, £250, Whistles[/nextpage]
5. Best for cardigan-phobics: Velvet kimono, New Look
New Look has really upped its cover-up game this season. With a whopping 146 beautiful kimonos on sale, the days of shoving an old cardie in your clutch bag are long gone. This fringed, floral number is one of the best, and it’s a bargain too.
Burnout fringed kimono, £14.50, New Look[/nextpage]
6. Best for magpies: Gold jumper dress, Biba at House of Fraser
For every time you’ve ever wanted to just turn up at a posh party wearing a massive jumper, Biba has answered our prayers with this perfect metallic sweater dress. Push up your sleeves, add a statement necklace and wait for the envious glances from everyone in a really uncomfortable cocktail dress to roll in.
Gold jumper dress, £52.50, Biba at House of Fraser[/nextpage]
7. Best for feeling snug: Velvet playsuit, Missguided
Luxe-looking velvet with a nice ‘principal boy from a panto’ air to it, this Missguided playsuit only falls down on two counts: legs (you’ll want 40 denier, minimum) and loo breaks.
Velvet playsuit, £24.99, Missguided[/nextpage]
8. Best for cuddle appeal: Faux fur gilet, Boohoo Plus
For pure warmth, this fetching faux fur gilet from Boohoo’s plus-size range is one of the cheapest, cosiest options you’re going to find. Your biggest dilemma will be whether or not to let friends hug you in the taxi queue.
Alana faux fur gilet, £20, Boohoo Plus[/nextpage]
9. Best for when only a sparkly jacket will do: sequin jacket, Oh My Love
Sparkly jackets may be party cover-up 101, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the option. This midnight blue affair by Oh My Love is supremely flattering, and so much more festive than goosebumps.
Sequin jacket, £35, ASOS[/nextpage]
10: Best for old-fashioned glamour: Embellished maxi dress, Virgos Lounge
If Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby fell in love and had a baby, the result might be something along these flowing lines. Virgos Lounge are always good for a stunning party frock – and just think of all the cosy layers you could fit underneath that skirt if needed.
Lena maxi dress, £95, ASOS[/nextpage]
11. Best for grunge revivalists: Velvet star dress, Urban Outfitters
This involves a very abstract star, so it’s definitely almost Christmassy, while the velvet and long sleeves make it both warm and a fitting way to end 2014, year of the 90s revival. It’s also nice and roomy, in case of a really good buffet.
Velvet star dress, £45, Urban Outfitters[/nextpage]
12. Best for wearing with basically everything: Gold sequin jacket, Topshop
Look at it. LOOK AT IT. A jacket that manages to be supremely glamorous, gilded, quilted, and remind one vaguely of Toblerone all at once while also keeping your arms warm. Throw this on over pretty much any outfit, pyjamas included, and you’ll instantly become a cross between Elizabeth Taylor and David Bowie. Partywear gold.
Pyramid sequin jacket, £75, Topshop[/nextpage]