There’s no way you’re going to look like Mrs Overall while your guests chic it up. Stephanie Smith on how to dress for Christmas Day.
Are you hosting this year, or guesting? Christmas Day, that is. Because your role and duties will inevitably influence your choice of festively appropriate outfit. If you are a host, chances are that what to wear is way down the list in terms of what to worry about. Top is probably where the heck everyone is going to sit for Christmas dinner (and for the rest of the day, come to that)? If guests are staying, where the Dickens will they sleep? Who gets the best bedroom and who the smallest bedroom (you yourself, of course, will be on the sofas in the living room) and are there enough pillows?
How much alcohol should you buy and is it rude to ask everyone to bring what they drink the most of?
Then there’s the turkey, the accompaniments and trimmings – don’t forget white sauce (there’s always someone who says they like it) and you will need more Yorkshire puddings and pigs in blankets than you ever imagined possible).
There’s the entertainment (will you really be expected to organise party games and write a quiz?). And, way before all of this, the complete headache that is the selecting, buying and wrapping of presents.
Then, finally, there’s what to wear. An afterthought, but a concern nonetheless. There’s no way you’re going to look like Mrs Overall while your guests are looking “effortlessly” chic, albeit in ensembles so polished and pulled-together that they are clearly the result of several months’ planning, if not a professional personal stylist.
So, as a host, you need something comfortable, glitzy, but easy. This is the season of the feature sleeve – bell, flute, trumpet, billowy, kimono – which is all very well, but they do tend to get dipped in trays of hot cooking oil or end up falling in the gravy. Instead, try a sleeveless or close-fitting sleeve for cooking (and a cute apron over can look very charming and really rather flattering, depending on how you tie it – experiment). Then, at the last moment before serving, swirl on a silk kimono-sleeve jacket or top for instant luxe glamour.
A sequin jacket could work well too, although sequins can be surprisingly warm, not what you want after spending a morning in a steaming kitchen with a couple of turkey crowns.
This season’s statement midi skirts, whether pleated and shiny or embellished chiffon, also work well for hosts as they are easy and allow free movement, but look suitably party-ish, as if you have made at least some effort. Team with an embellished top; knits are ideal, although again, maybe a little warm (you could turn the central heating off and let your lazy guests suffer). Cotton or jersey might be more comfortable, and it’s very stylish right now to do the dress up/down thing of wearing a party skirt with a weekend top, such as a striped tee, a chunky knit or even a sweatshirt.
As a Christmas day guest, you have the luxury of being able to spend the morning getting ready (after spending the previous couple of months planning, acquiring and styling your festive look), so you are in a fortunate position, relatively speaking (and it is so important to upstage your relatives, whenever you can).
If you want to avoid any sort of kitchen or clearing-up duty, wear white, head-to-toe. It’s seasonal, especially this season when entire tonal looks are on-trend, very chic, and will hopefully allow you to be excused anything messy. But take a ridiculously glam pinny with you, just in case your host (ie., your mother, sister or sister-in-law) is having none of it and hands you a dishcloth on arrival.
There may well be games, so consider hem and necklines. And finally, beware the gravy and have a second gorgeous outfit at the ready.