No more reindeer jumpers: What to wear this Christmas

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Whether you're slobbing on the sofa or schmoozing the in-laws, it isn't just your tree that should be well-dressed this Christmas, says Harriet Walker


Heading to church of a Christmas morn? Then you'll need your fur tippet, a crinoline, muffler and a chaperone. Not really. Times have changed since the days of Dickens, apparently. Churches are a lot less full, for one thing.

Practicality rules in this instance: unless you're heading to one of those flat-pack new places of worship that play their carols on a Yamaha keyboard, you'll need a hefty coat to see you through a draughty service. Reiss's longer-length jacket is the perfect compromise: warm enough that you'll feel the benefits but not so big and lumpy as to take up half a pew.

Team this with the ladylike uniform of the season, a pencil skirt and modern blouse – Whistles' "Amy" style is nicely, collarlessly utilitarian without being too trendy and shouty, while Michael Kors's ribbed cashmere skirt is classic, demure, toasty – and accommodating enough for the ensuing prandial blow-out. But if you can't stretch to that on your budget, Oasis and Warehouse have their own excellent versions.

Catwalk stylings for this look included the revived kitten heel, but it's the Independent fashion desk's opinion that no one, but no one, should have to totter at Christmas, and the addition of a sensible pair of brogues keeps this look more streetwise and less workwear.

Family Fun

The sartorial prerequisites for a stay-at-home Christmas gathered round the telly equate roughly to those for a week off work with the flu. Minimal effort, zero aesthetic concerns, no trends whatsoever to adhere to – only comfort should be at the forefront of your mind and your wardrobe. And comfort is, to paraphrase the Kim Grove cartoon, velour and a stretchy waistband.

Marks & Spencer's cashmere tracksuit is surely in the running for Most Antisocial Garment of 2010 – in that, while it's pitched right at the socially acceptable, impossibly deluxe end of the loungewear spectrum, it's so cosy as to mean you may never venture out of the house again. Perfect, then, for wearing as you fall asleep in front of Doctor Who. There's always scope for a Christmas cardie, though, and this jolly red and white one by Marc Jacobs has the advantage of being from his spring range, so when the Santa vibe wears off, you'll still be oh-so-current. Team both with a slub jersey T-shirt and some thick socks or, if you insist on going outside, some flat and cuddly shearling booties.

Turkey for Two

Some people see Christmas as a bonding experience, a chance to spend some one-on-one time with their partner. If your significant other isn't the television, no doubt you'll want to dress up for him or her, but remember to bear in mind the main tenet of the festive season: relaxed and nonchalant chic. Because you'll be too busy worrying about getting the roast potatoes right to give a monkey's about concept dressing on the day itself.

For that reason, we propose a chic and trendy – but above all easy – uniform of jeans and a T-shirt. There are plenty of cutesy, dressed-down graphic T-shirts around – Lanvin, Sonia Rykiel and Urban Outfitters are a good source of nicely embellished daytime tops, while labels such as DKNY and COS are good for mid-price, plain basics with interesting shapes and detailing. All would sit perfectly above a pair of classic indigo jeans – Acne's narrow skinnies are a great solution. Shoes, meanwhile, are a good way to add some razzmatazz, though the Spirit of Christmas Lazy suggests keeping them flat. Balenciaga pumps or Repetto ballet slippers are just the ticket.

Keeping the Peace with the In-laws

Unless you're Bernard Manning, you probably don't have that much of a problem with your in-laws, so dressing to spend Christmas with them will hardly reach Amish proportions. But you may want to smarten up the casual aesthetic a touch and wear something you don't mind those other than close family seeing you in. It all depends how well you get on with them, really.

The trend for insouciant and laid-back tailoring combines perfectly the lo-fi elegance and ease that you need for this occasion. One of the many pairs of slim-cut but mannish chinos available at the likes of Gap, Topshop and American Vintage are perfect, teamed with a colourful T-shirt or vest. You're both dining table-smart and armchair-ready.

If, however, the home of your swain is one governed by a traditional matriarch and an inflexible code of honour, opt for a simple jersey shift dress – this one from Mango can be layered over T-shirts or long sleeves depending on the time of day, and would work with Clarks' casual desert boots or ballet slippers for a more girlish take. Of course, when spending Christmas with his parents, your outfit should take a back seat to your helpfulness in the kitchen and unlimited enthusiasm for washing-up anyway.

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