Which will it be for Christmas Day: the Armani jacket you bring out on really posh occasions, the glittery party top, or that chunky jumper you found on holiday years ago and love to death? We asked an actress, a headteacher, a nurse and a student to be photographed in the outfits they will be wearing this Christmas, and to tell us about the rest of their wardrobes, from designer items to heirlooms, hand-me-downs, sales bargains and impulse purchases.

Amanda Mealing, 25, is an actress and shares a flat with a girlfriend in Shaftesbury Avenue, London.

I'M GOING to the Canaries, so I don't think I'll be wearing very much on Christmas Day. I'll lounge around in my ripped denim shorts in the daytime and then wear my favourite cream jacket and Kooka polka-dot trousers in the evening. To be honest, I don't remember where the jacket came from. I picked it up on my travels somewhere, I suppose.

I do have a very eclectic wardrobe. I've got a smart Emporio Armani evening jacket that I bought recently, but I've also got an old brown leather bomber jacket, skirts and jackets from Bali and Guatemala, and so many shoes and hats I don't know what to do with them.

I dress depending on the mood I'm in, so maybe one day I'll be very boyish in jeans, Doc Martens, and a baseball cap, and the next day I'll wear a flowing Laura Ashley-style dress. The important thing is that the clothes are comfortable. I usually take the labels out of everything because they annoy me; they get scratchy against the skin.

I do love clothes. I pick up ideas by watching people. I feel lucky living in the centre of London because I see a great cross-section of people.

I don't have a wardrobe; just one long rail and this lovely old oak chest that was in the flat when I moved in. I've also got clothes stuffed in drawers all over the place, and lots more at my parents' house and at my old flat in Kennington.

I've been acting professionally since I was six, and I'm sure it has influenced my taste in clothes. When I was younger I used to go wild at the studios, rummaging through the wardrobes. When I was in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, I wore all the period underwear. It helped me to get the posture right, but ever since then I've been into structured underwear - underwired bras and French knickers.

In The House of Eliott I wore drop-waisted dresses and lots of beads - I looked awful in the dresses, absolutely enormous. I look even worse in the Christmas special of The Darling Buds of May. I'm dressed like a Girl Guide mistress in an A-line grey skirt, little cropped jacket and horrible Fifties glasses. All very prim and proper.

I once did a series called The Gravy Train, in which I had to play a very rich French mistress. I went shopping with the wardrobe mistress and an open cheque book in Harrods, Harvey Nichols and all the Sloane Street shops. We ended up buying four Azzedine Alaa outfits for pounds 5,000, but I only used two in the series - and you only saw one of them for a few seconds. I've still got one, in fact, a deep green knitted and very structured suit.

But my favourite piece of clothing isn't the most expensive. It's a Levi's denim shirt signed by Ayrton Senna, the Grand Prix driver. I'll never wash it. I'll be honest with you - he's my hero.

Amanda Mealing is appearing in 'The Darling Buds of May', ITV, on Boxing Day, and in 'Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens' at the Drill Hall, 16 Chenies Street, London WC1 from 19 January to 17 February.

(Photograph omitted)

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