It’s the second week of December already, and the lunches, parties, drinks and dinners are starting to line up in the diary, stretching all the way to New Year.
Apart from the obvious conundrum of where to order the best online turkey, what on earth to wear to all these events is the second biggie. How does one stay cool, calm and ever glamorous throughout all of this Christmas cheer? The answer, I’m convinced, is the dress. A flattering dress, once you find it, is the ultimate solution piece for any Christmas fashion problems. It’s just a matter of deciding which cuts are best for you.
Martin Grant, the Melbourne born, Paris-based designer, whose uniforms for Qantas will debut this week, is a master when it comes dresses. At his salon showing at David Jones in Sydney this week, I found myself salivating over two perfect specimens of the little black dress, one narrow, knee length, panelled and form fitting, the other a perfect 50’s silhouette à la Grace Kelly in Rear Window, with a scooped necked sleeveless bodice and full skirt.
“They are exactly the dresses I would be wearing on Christmas day” I said to the journalist sitting next to me. “ If I had a waist.” But it certainly didn’t dampen my enthusiasm to go looking for other styles.
“This is the biggest dress season we have had, we are selling far more than last year” confirmed Sophie Clark, general manager of womenswear for David Jones.
Caftans, it appears, are a hot favourite, but so too the more sculpted, body conscious styles.
“ We are seeing great success with Australian designers. Dion Lee is walking out the door, as are Rachel Gilbert and Scanlan Theodore” Clark admitted. “Colour and print are proving to be a very big hit, but so, on the other side, are black and white.”
Peplums are still a trend, as is short and strapless, but there are beautiful draped tunic styles in lovely shots of pink or blue at Saba and Willow, with longer sleeves and higher necklines, for those who prefer to show less skin.
Grant’s collection also featured beautifully cut black pedal pushers, which would be gorgeous for a Christmas party, worn with a silk shirt and kitten heel (or think about a sexy black pencil skirt).
A popular colour for both shirts and dresses this season is pink, from palest blush, to salmon, melon and dusty rose. Wide, fluid trousers are also an easy summer suggestion, worn with sheer, flowing shirts and jackets. If you have the legs for it, silky shorts are also a pretty warm weather option, put back with a lace top or shirt and high heels.
Given that most of us do not intend to buy dozens of outfits to see us through the season, it’s worth investing in a few key accessories to add variety. A simple sheath dress can be worn with wedges and an armload of bangles for day. The bangles can be removed, the wedges changed to a jeweled sandal and a brightly coloured necklace could be added for an early evening cocktail party. The same dress will also go to dinner with dangling diamante earrings, high heels and an orange lip.
There are also no rules with colour – a pink dress looks wonderful with turquoise jewellery, blue with coral, lavender with green. If the colour makes you happy, it will almost certainly have the same effect on others.
Party dressing at this time of year is absolutely about having fun. At a recent lunch at a harbourside restaurant, a fellow guest was wearing a multicoloured embroidered knee length A-line dress by Easton Pearson, multicoloured jewelled sandals, multicoloured perspex hoop earrings, carrying a multicoloured clutch bag with multicoloured nail polish and she looked incredible. Next to her was a woman wearing a black and white striped bustier and tight black skirt, with slicked back dark hair and a slick of deep red lipstick – she looked fabulous too.Another was in a sweet navy blue button through denim dress by Marc Jacobs and platform espadrilles.
That is the beauty about fashion now. It’s about choosing your look, and owning it.
I’m not Ready To Wear …My pyjamas on Christmas morning
For years, my husband has caught me on film, bleary and busy, unwrapping presents with our eager children, clad in whatever I got up in. Never again. The boys are 18 now. I will be waiting by the Christmas tree at 9am, impeccable, tea in my Royal Doulton cup, clad in a new dress, and ballet slippers, fully made up. I shall don an apron, Mad Men style, effortlessly whip up lunch ( well, heat up the already cooked ham at least), whip the apron off, put on a fancy necklace, and sit down to lunch with a glass of champagne and freshly applied lipstick and it will all be chronicled by the iPhone for posterity. No dressing gown in sight.
Kirstie Clements is an ambassador for Sportscraft, which has the same parent company as Willow and Saba.