Sparkle fashion special: You shall go to the ball (okay, the office party)

It's all about the shine factor this party season. Stephanie Smith on making High Street glitz work from desk to a night on the dazzle.

Tinsel jumper dress, £65, at Oliver Bonas.

As the shelves fill up with festive looks and partywear, it’s time we all asked ourselves the big question: how much, exactly, do we want to sparkle and shine this Christmas?

Because there’s a lot of it about, glisten and glitz, and those High Street sequin fairies have clearly been working overtime to provide billions and trillions of tiny shiny discs so we can rattle and shimmer through the party season.

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This is all very well, but a) what happens to all those sequins once the parties are over? And b) what about those of us who don’t usually have time to go home and change before the office party or indeed any other shiny festive event? Are we prepared to work in sequins? Yes, you could argue that daytime shine is very much a thing, but it’s very much a thing that shouldn’t frighten the horses or the colleagues (and sequins are far too itchy and scratchy to sit in all day).

Lurex dress, £45, at Bonmarche.

Garment switching has to be a sensible option when time is scarce. If you really fancy sporting a sequin or lurex jumpsuit or a pair of shiny wide-leg trousers (I’m blaming Mamma Mia 2 for much of this current trend), you either have to go home to change or you need to take your party pieces with you and change in the work loos. However, there are dresses and jumpsuits on the High Street which feature a black or grey or navy crepe bottom half, and then a sequin or embellished top half, perfect if you want to hide your shine away beneath a sensible work-a-day jumper which you can whip off when the party gets started.

Another outfit transformer this season could be a jacket. Sequin jackets are all over the High Street for Christmas, especially sequin blazers, and these are ideal for instantly blinging up a simple black, grey or navy daywear outfit. Black jeans or tailored wide-legs, with black cashmere turtleneck jumper or a velvet or silk blouse (look out for ones with subtly opulent paisley and dark floral prints), and then – wham! – put on the glitz in an instant by adding the sequin jacket you have been cannily concealing on the office coat rack. Go for gunmetal or black if elegance is uppermost in your sartorial mind (see New Look and Wallis), or gold, pink, blue, silver, burgundy or kaleidoscopic multi-colour sequins if you want to make a splash. For a street-wise athleisure edge, try a sequin bomber jacket – again, there are plenty about (try TK Maxx and River Island).

Dressed-down sequin is an interesting and charming way to work hi-shine looks. Style a sequin slip dress with a white shirt worn underneath, like the outfit here from Dorothy Perkins. Or simply wear a black tee under it or a cashmere jumper over it. Later on, you can decide how much you want to take off, if anything. It’s much the same with skirts, if you can bear to scrunch about in sequins all day at work. The sequin pencil skirt is a key piece for the season, especially in multi-coloured stripes and geometric patterning, and it looks unstudiedly brilliant worn simply with a collared white shirt, a luxe silk tee or even a festive jumper. It’s all about taking the tacky glam factor out of sequins in a way that elevates and adds a knowing, slightly ironic edge, making sure that 2018 sparkle is a far more sophisticated affair than it was in decades past.

If sparkle is your thing, this really is the season and the year to go for it. There are so many pieces to choose from, and the variety is impressive, from colours to shapes. The Studio by Preen blue and black asymmetric sequin dress featured here, is a real showstopper, available now at Debenhams. It’s opulent and statement-making, yet demure and undeniably classy (and it would suit all ages) so you can channel your inner diva, without fear of looking as if you thought you were attending an Eighties theme fancy dress party.

Chocolate brown sequin slip dress, was £45, now £31.50; white top, was £22, now £15.40, at Dorothy Perkins.
Studio by Preen blue sequin dress, £150 at Debenhams.
Gold sequin kick flare trousers, £69' pink Bardot top, £8. Both at Miss Selfridge.
Ombre sequin dress, £89, Miss Selfridge.