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The joy of dressing up-up (to go out-out)

Feathers! Sequins! Velvet! It’s the most glamorous time of the year, and style writer Polly Vernon has rounded up Sloane Street’s best outfits for the occasion

3 November 2022

Oooh! It’s that time again, isn’t it? The fabulous one, the potent one, the really, really fun one. It is!

Now, I’m not referring to Christmas. I mean, I am, but only inasmuch as it’s the enabler of the thing I’m really excited about: dressing up-up (to go out-out) season. AKA the most wonderful time of the year. Huzzah, huzzah for deep scarlets, patent-leather blacks, a generous drizzle of sparkle on everything, faux-fur collars, velvet mini-dresses with feather trims, vertiginous heeled boots. 

Huzzah for swirly coats of almost-obscene glamour, worn for the entrance value alone, then stashed in the cloakroom and almost left behind four-and-a-half hours on, when the wine and the fun have truly kicked in, the canapés proved an inadequate barrier to intoxication, and the Uber awaits, impatiently. 

Huzzah for no such thing as ‘too much’, for the seasonal licence to wear all your finery at once, for the flurry of unmitigated glamour that is the mirror bank of the ladies’ loos at any point past 7.30 pm in December. 

This year, of all years, is the one to go for it. This year – when things are so scary, so unknown, but definitely a bit glum and anxious-making and drab – this year is your chance to use glamour as a statement of defiance, a tribute to your determination to have a good time anyway. We could call it ‘radical glamour’. Because dressing up-up to go out-out is your break from the bleak. 

Now, to the delicious prospect of what to wear… 

There are worse ways to start than with the raspberry velvet mini-dress by Tom Ford; It’s the kind of dress you could wear then not really bother with anything else (hair, make-up, shoes, small talk, remembering to buy other people Christmas presents…). That’s how hardworking it is. 

Saint Laurent’s ruched dress, and Balenciaga’s sequined dress achieve similar ends. If you’d rather wear trousers, then do consider a Rag & Bone gold satin tuxedo jacket worn with nothing underneath (although it’s unspecified in traditional religious teachings, Christmas is very much the season of wearing nothing underneath).

There is only one pair of shoes I wish to wear this year, and it’s Saint Laurent’s patent slingbacks (which I would also wear with combat pants and too-long puddle-hem jeans for full 1990s-revisited impact). And I will consider the effort required to balance in them on icy pavements both a privilege and a workout for my deep core. 

Should you lean towards a more stable shoe, Valentino’s low-heel pump with an ankle strap definitely says ‘party’ without also saying ‘trip hazard’. And there has never been, nor will there ever be, any rules against stashing tweed Chanel ballerinas in your oversize clutch for when your feet need a rest, but the rest of you does not.

Re the clutch: while you won’t fit a pair of flats into Anya Hindmarch’s Polo bag, you will feel fabulously witty – so fine. The same goes for Saint Laurent’s black leather star, and Versace’s Le Medusa mini.

Which leaves only the coat of borderline-obscene-grade glamour: Burberry’s quilted number is as minimalist as I’ll accept (it gets away with it because the quilting is stitched to resemble the brand’s iconic checked pattern). Gucci’s faux fur jacket might not give you as much coverage – but it will stop traffic. And because I have yet to encounter a convincing argument against leopard print, Balenciaga’s hourglass number has an awful lot with which to recommend itself.

Tom Ford dress, £3,200
Saint Laurent dress, £2,555
Balenciaga dress, £4,150
Rag & Bone jacket, £615
Saint Laurent slingbacks, £675
Valentino shoes, £740
Chanel shoes, £670
Anya Hindmarch clutch bag, £895
Saint Laurent bag, £1,780
Versace bag, £1,070
Burberry quilted coat, £1,590
Gucci faux-fur jacket, POA
Balenciaga coat, £2,790

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