Fashion: Little Black Dress or Disco Dolly?

Who will you be at the Christmas party?

Tis the season to be jolly ... in sequins, silver, rhinestones, PVC, glitter, baubles ... Is there anything else? Not if the capital's window displays are anything to go by.

London's Oxford Street currently resembles half a mile of surreal winter wonderland. Silver-wigged mannequins burst out of mirrored walls. Snow queens wear Spandex under burnt ostrich feathered coats. Archangels are frozen into action poses and sport the sort of creations last seen on the Star Ship Enterprise. There are intermittent blizzards of white polystyrene balls and enough injection moulded sci-fi sets to fill the Warner Bros studio lots.

It's all very millennial, in a future-retro-cum-celebration-of-galactic- travel kind of way. But what about the clothes? When retailers set about brainstorming their Yuletide window scenes, did they really imagine that the dawn of a new century would induce us to ditch our cosy cashmere and buy scratchy synthetics that would make us look like Captain Wilma from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? Of course not. Retailers are praying that their high-impact window displays will get us into the party mood. They hope that all we'll want for Christmas is a wardrobe full of party- wear. And given that this will be a season of non-stop knees-ups, from now until 1st January, they have a point.

Beyond the Bacofoil window statements, you'll find plenty of choice. The question is: do you want to live out your fantasies or not? If you've spent all year dressed down like Cinders, a lavish party is as good an excuse as any to wave your magic credit card and become Cinderella for a night. This is your best chance to get out of those bland-as-a-rag neutrals, shake off your tasteful, neat separates and escape your repressed wardrobe, if only for a night or two.

A frou-frou party frock might not be the height of fashion, but if it's going to help you arrive at your fairy tale dream, who cares? If a meringue- shaped confection is what you're after, head for a department store which still has an eveningwear department (Selfridges calls theirs the Millennial Salon, if you please), usually to be found on the top floor in no man's land along with hats and suitcases. Are You Being Served, anyone? Don't forget to take a pair of dressy shoes for the full effect; trying any party number on with grey woolly socks can prove too much of an imaginative leap for even the most ardent fantasist. And remember not to expect too much from your metamorphosis, even Cinderella didn't go home with her prince at midnight.

The office party is perhaps the most popular for the escapist who sees herself as the femme fatale. Out come the dominatrix heels, the boob tubes and bottom-cheek-grazing micro-minis, not to mention the make-up and hair spray. Abracadabra! The most diligent, unobtrusive, mousy girl has transformed herself into a Supervixen. She gets a kick out of dumbfounding her colleagues and even surprises herself with just how naturally she carries out those pelvic thrusts on the dance floor.

Just don't be surprised when you catch her throwing on her duffel coat and changing into her sensible flatties at the coat check.

If you're not a changeling when it comes to party frocks, the key to a successful Christmas season is to stick to what suits you. Don't, whatever you do, try and become something you're not overnight. It's perilously easy to get side-tracked by the rails of spangly creations en route to the more subdued racks, especially when it's a panic-stricken, blood-pumping last minute desperation buy. There's nothing more uncomfortable than walking into a party dressed as the proverbial disco dolly when in fact you're a Little Black Dress kind of girl. Talking of the LBD - or the LBO (the Little Black Outfit), the more with-it alternative - it's probably the easiest and safest buy.

Dress it up with accessories that you will use more than once - a dainty, beaded bag, a pair of kitten heels and a heavy cashmere wrap (a great, if expensive, alternative to that thread-bare duffel coat). And wear it dressed down for the rest of the year. After all, an LBO isn't just for Christmas.

If you want to snap out of the sensible mould, and find yourself getting into the millennial spirit, the trick is to buy subtle separates that nod at the party season without screaming Christmas tree. Keep it low- key but wear it with attitude. A faint drizzle of glitter, a glimmer of sequins, the softest shades of velvet in simple shapes work best - like Etro's shell top and Warehouse's Capri pants.

Then again, you might want to ditch anything even vaguely reminiscent of Paper Chase wrapping paper and go for colour instead. From candyfloss to fuchsia, lilac to purple, the stores are full of vibrant shades. Worn head to toe, colour has got to be the cleverest move for Christmas, since you can wear it beyond the current sub-zero temperatures and it will certainly be the best way of standing out against all that black and metallic.

Top left: Turquoise paisley glitter top, pounds 110, by Etro, 14 Old Bond Street, London W1, enquiries 0171-495 5767; silver sequin skirt, pounds 75, by French Connection, 249 Regent Street, London W1, enquiries 0171-399 7200; multi colour bangles, pounds 2.50 for 50, by Claires Accessories, stores nationwide, enquiries 0121-682 8000

Main Picture: Lilac velvet top, pounds 25, by Warehouse, stores nationwide, enquiries 0800 915 9902; silver leather jacket, pounds 150, by Oasis, 292 Regent Street, London W1, enquiries 01865 881986

Centre: Purple vest, pounds 12, by Warehouse, as before; pink glitter skirt, pounds 170, by Whistles, 12 St. Christophers Place, London W1, enquiries 0171-487 4484; studded belt, pounds 10, from Ad Hoc, 153 Kings Road, London SW3, enquiries 0171-376 8829; ribbon wristband, from a selection at VV Rouleaux, 6 Marylebone High Street, London W1, enquiries 0171-224 5179; black mules, pounds 49.99, by Office, 55 South Molton Street, London W1, enquiries 0181-838 4447

Bottom left: Black sleeveless mohair jumper, pounds 42, by Jigsaw, 126-127 New Bond Street, London W1, enquiries 0171-491 4484; black glitter Capri pants, pounds 55, by Warehouse, as before; black scarf, pounds 4, from Cornucopia, 12 Upper Tatchbrook Street, London SW1, enquiries 0171-828 5752; zebra print cuff, pounds 20, from Whistles, as before

PHOTOGRAPHER: ANNA STEVENSON n STYLIST: HOLLY WOOD n MAKE-UP: KIM BROWN USING BENEFIT AT ROCKIT n HAIR: CRAIG MASON AT TONI AND GUY n MODEL: SARAH HOLLAND AT MODELS ONE

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas