The best Christmas 2022 party dresses from John Lewis, Anthropologie, Whistles, M&S and AllSaints
Make no mistake, there will be sequins, there will be shine, there will be gold and silver and red and lots of green and - best of all - there will be feathers. But there will also be pragmatism and restraint, because fashion now is about so much more than one season, even when that season is the eagerly-anticipated Christmas 2022.
So say yes to that party dress but remember that this ought to be an investment, not a wear-once, throw-away piece. If consideration for the planet had not already brought this home, the economy must certainly have done so by now.
That does not mean a ban on luxury, far from it, but luxury now plays out on hard-working pieces that are versatile, translating from day to night and across the seasons.
So, the key trends include: Sequins (yes, you can go mad); metallics; satin and velvet; long-sleeve elegant silhouette dresses from mini to floor-sweeping; wrap dresses (even sequin wrap dresses); Bardot necklines; one-shoulder; peek-a-boo cutouts (there is lots of Nineties’ nostalgia going on); cowl necklines; tuxedo and jacket dresses, especially mini; the long black dress; the statement suit (in a popping shade); feather shoulders, cuffs and hemlines; leather and biker luxe looks.
“Typically, there is a lot of sparkle around, but this year more than ever,” says Emily Gray, personal Stylist at John Lewis in Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds, adding that if you think you might be overdoing it with the glitz, you have probably nailed the trend brilliantly.
“Continuing with the OTT themes, feather trims are big this year, seen on the sleeves of jackets, hems of skirts and trousers,” she says.
“Don't worry though, if all that's not for you, as tailoring continues to be a big trend as well, so there are a lot of sleek suits around in sumptuous fabrics and jewel tone colours, and gorgeous jumpsuits as well.”
Emily has already identified her Christmas hero piece - a Ro & Zo black bandeau-style feather trim jumpsuit. She says: “I absolutely love a glitter number, but this year I'm going for something different and discovered this brilliant feather trim jumpsuit. I will be styling it with platform heels, a sparkly clutch and statement diamante earrings.”
And Emily always looks out for classic statement designs that will work with, and enhance, her existing wardrobe.
“I think it's important to invest in pieces that you will love and that will last, so I think a velvet blazer would be the perfect hero piece to add to my wardrobe. It would be great to go over classic slip dresses, or to dress up a simple jeans look. I would probably add some sparkly shoes to give the look a bit more pizzazz.”
Also at Victoria Gate in Leeds is Anthropologie, a beautiful two-storey shop that offers luxe dressing and statement designs with quirky and exquisite detailing - nothing modish but often vintage-inspired and quite beautiful, the ideal style investment. Its Life of the Party collection features beautiful greens, golds, velvets and satin luxe looks, with a 1930s vintage feel, very grown up and super sophisticated.
Meanwhile, the desire for practical, hard-working, premium, contemporary classic pieces that can be dressed up with flair is key to the Whistles Resort collection, which reflects a, easy, nonchalant mood, with colours washing between blue, indigo and autumnal shades, plus statement pieces in red for a touch of festive confidence.
Prints are key for the 2022/23 autumn/winter season, and unusually so for the festive season. Whistles designers have disrupted checks into a tangled 'W' form, there is also a diagonal diamond in blue hues on a dress and a co-ord. There are also Seventies-inspired leather looks, with a buttery leather coordinating skirt set in an irresistible toffee shade.
Reiss focuses on a return to glamour with highly sophisticated eveningwear, a sharp, tailored daytime look and ‘90s throwback styles.
Throw statement coats over feminine dresses, wear high shine elements for day to evening event dressing, and luxuriously comfortable knits in harmonious colour shades for an elevated downtime style.
Inspiration includes touches of 1970s disco, and it is all underpinned with optimism, energy and fun for a confident festive and winter look.
There are fluid silhouettes but also strong tailored jackets and trousers, but also lots of diamanté, velvet tailoring, tuxedo looks, sensual fluid dresses with skin-revealing cut-outs and rhinestones, velvet in rich tones and 1990s influences, plus lots of timeless silhouettes, simple, versatile and directional.
“We thought beyond the clothes. Where is our customer going? What is she planning? We have created a wardrobe that allows her to feel confident by feeling better than ever from within,” says Una Joyce, Reiss womenswear director.
At All Saints, there is lots of dark attitude, as expected, but a bright new attitude. “All change - as we navigate our way through the seasons, we’re embracing a new-found sense of freedom. Celebrate your individuality in a collection designed for every occasion,” says the brand.
“Free-spirited and carefree - we’re here for it. Soak up the atmosphere this time of year brings. The spontaneous moments that make unforgettable memories, it’s all about having fun.”
And so say all of us.