Christmas. Love it or hate it, it does offer up a dazzling opportunity to show your seasonal spirit via questionable fashion choices.
It’s funny what the imminent approach of Santa Claus can do to otherwise chic people.
My friend Charla is a Californian born fashion editor who has lived in Paris for thirty years and is one of the most stylish, elegant women you could ever meet. I have seen her baking cookies on a Sunday morning wearing slim Oscar de la Renta pink pants, a white cotton Jil Sander shirt, and Roger Vivier flats.
Hence I was worried when I received a Christmas card from Charla one year, an awkward photo of her with her husband and their two children, sitting next to the Christmas tree, all wearing matching bad reindeer sweaters and red socks.
I was so shocked I called her, thinking maybe the marriage was in crisis. It looked like one of those ominous family portraits you see on a True Crime episode. But no, it was just the American coming out in her.
I do love the way Americans celebrate a holiday. Being in the southern hemisphere means we miss out on wearing the sartorial splendor that is the novelty Christmas sweater (unless you live in Melbourne, then you have a 50/50 chance).
It’s all very well for Northerners in their velvet loafers, snuggled by the fire with egg nog and plum pudding. We Aussies have to try and twist this celebration into something that makes sense in 35 degrees Celsius with 100 per cent humidity, while we cook a turkey and bake a ham.
So what is left to us? Reindeer headbands? Candy cane earrings, to put with our cossie and thongs?
I tried for years to suggest that we become a “let’s just have oysters and prawns and lots of salads” family, but my Grandma (a Scot) and my mother (an old-school Aussie royalist) wouldn’t have a bar of it. For them, it just wasn’t Christmas unless there was a roast bird, stuffing, brandy cream, baked potatoes and cranberry sauce.
So the family dress code tended to be caftans and speedos in order to prevent heatstroke. A Slim Aarons photo it wasn’t.
Just imagine an American Vogue-style Christmas Day wardrobe, each option more chic than the last. The first could be an expensive silk satin slip and robe, in scarlet, with coffee lace trim, very fetching to wear while opening presents on Christmas morning.
There would be a cooking and preparing outfit, perhaps a cute jumpsuit in light denim or chambray, which will wash well after it’s been splattered by the maple syrup glaze and the first glass of red wine.
A “setting the table” and taking photos of the food ensemble, let’s say silk pants and a shirt, with statement earrings and Marni sandals. Later, an evening dress, as the snow starts to fall gently outside, maybe a floor-length floral Maison Valentino? Oh, the choices one has when you’re not reduced to a puddle of sweat on the floor after stirring the gravy.
So how to keep cool in style? Think about really simple pieces, in fabrics that breath like linen or pure cotton, gorgeous in a bright colour. This is definitely a day for a pretty red dress! But maybe skip the green accessories to avoid the Christmas elf look.
I’ve decided that the chicest, and coolest route may be all white.
I’ve bought myself a gorgeous Scanlan & Theodore white dress, my husband can wear white cotton drawstring pants and a collarless shirt, the twins can wear white t shirts and…
Wait. That might make for an even weirder Christmas card than Charla’s.