Ready to Wear: 'Don't wear sparkle – you'll upstage the Christmas tree'

Christmas Day dress codes vary, but to this particular commentator's mind, this is one occasion when it is good and proper to proudly embrace the fashion cliché. I've got Christmas Day shoes, for example. They're red patent by Repetto for Comme des Garçons, if anyone's interested. At any other time of the year, red-patent pumps are an unlikely option for me, given my resolutely monochrome wardrobe. Exception: blue jeans, tawny sweater. And that, for me, is quite radical.

In a similar vein, Christmas socks that play Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at full tilt at the mere press of a cunningly disguised button may not be the height of metropolitan style, but they're certainly good for a laugh. As tension inevitably mounts over a hot stove and even hotter family disputes, humour is crucial.

Everyone has their limits, of course, and I personally draw the line at Christmas-cracker hats, not least because they won't fit over my hair. But that's enough about me.

Do: Wear something that isn't too tight, or if it is tight it must also be stretchy. Always check that you can sit down in your clothes beforehand. For all festive occasions based around eating, it is more important what you look like from the waist up than the waist down. Like a newsreader, feel free to dress like a total slob as far as any trousers/ tights/shoes are concerned. Nobody will look at them.

More importantly, get over any unhealthy fascination with surface sparkle during the build-up to the big day. The Christmas tree must never, under any circumstances, be upstaged on 25 December.

Don't: Dress like a fairy. There's only room for one of these in the house, please, and she's got a spiky branch up her frilly skirt. Unless, that is, you happen to be around four years old, in which case Disney-cuteness is to be encouraged.

It is equally ill-advised to roll up for a family Christmas dressed head to toe in designer clothing. Come to think of it, dressing head to toe in designer clothing is never the greatest idea, whatever the circumstances. While Victoria Beckham might sport a curvy little Azzedine Alaïa design with footwear to match for her dinner, the rest of us would do well not to wear our fashion credentials on our sleeves.

Hair and make-up? What hair and make-up? While a dash of true red lipstick may be part of the colour co-ordinated magic of it all, it won't last, and lining one's lips before tucking into a plateful of turkey and all the trimmings is trying too hard by far. Instead, let your natural radiance shine as brightly as the fairy lights. There are always the dimmer switches to resort to, or even just kind twinkling candlelight, should that radiance turn into more of an alcohol-induced flush after all.

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