What to wear on Christmas Day


By Carolyn Asome, deputy fashion editor, The Times

Dispatches from the front line remain sketchy as to what, precisely Cara, Kate and a gaggle style mavens will be wearing on Christmas Day. You could do worse than to take advice from the Queen who has had to do this countless times and seemingly always gets it right. A motto of “dignity at all times” wouldn’t be a bad one to stick to, or at least wherever possible. Or, put another way, think of the photos. For clothes, which pack a punch, are easy to move around in, look glamorous (or glamorous enough that your mother-in-law won’t be chewing your ear off) and yet are comfy enough to spend all day hunkered down in front of the TV, look no further.

Sheen rather than out-and-out shine.

It’s more flattering and, on the whole, classier. If you can’t resist sequins – by New Year’s Eve, the pressure to have a Diana Ross moment may be too overwhelming – a sequinned top under a jacket or a thick, encrusted sequin skirt teamed with a very plain crew necks looks cooler than head-to-toe glitter and it’s also more versatile. Otherwise, nothing says festive to me more than velvet. I love its sumptuousness and how elegant and understated it looks while also being decadent and naughty. Ideally this won’t be too thick a pile so as to appear more modern looking but also, because velvet can sometimes have an unfortunate knack for adding inches. If that is a concern, velvet slippers or a strappy sandal are an option. 

Image: Cara Delevingne in blue velvet coat-dress

Red and pink

Red and green or a palette of metallics are such obvious colour combos at this time of year. To stand out (in a good way) why not try red and a pale pink. There’s something about the way these two colours jar slightly which make them such a popular colour duo amongst fashion designers. A pale pink top with a red skirt or trousers (see Valentino's hit autumn/winter collection) is an easy way to pull this off and doesn’t require further accessorising such is the colourful fashion statement you will be working.

Image: Valentino autumn/winter 2014 collection

Silk, satin and lace

Silks, satins and lace all strike the right note of glamour provided they are not full-blown ballgowns (you should look as though you are prepared to pitch in with the preparations even if you have no intention of actually doing so). Shiny fabrics and lace also have the advantage of looking very pretty with arran style cardigans - worth considering if you're not wearing a jacket.

Image: Dress, £245, Reiss (Available at select Fenwick stores)

A chunky knit

This is the answer to “how do I keep warm” while watching Downton Abbey or heading out for an impromptu Boxing day walk without resorting to a novelty Christmas sweater. Far be it for me to be too prescriptive but some things are better kept for fancy dress. An Arran sweater meanwhile looks great over trousers as it does over a lace or tweed skirt and it’s certainly much more fashionable than digging out a waterfall cardi. The trick is to look for knitwear which isn’t too chunky: layering is absolutely key when you are battling central heating on overdrive one minute and popping to your neighbour’s the next.

Image: Jumper, £209, Max & Co (Available at select Fenwick stores)

Heels versus flats

While a nicely turned ankle always looks great in the pics, chances are you are not going to be wearing them while
stuffing a turkey with a pinny in the manner of a Fifties housewife. My advice is to look for sturdy brogues if a simple jewelled, pointed flat is not your thing. Not only will the brogue work with trousers it will add a Bloomsbury/Mitford-esque air to a more dressed up outfit. That you will be able to do more than mince round your sitting room or to the pub is another plus.

Image: Maddy brogues, £45, Miss KG (Available at select Fenwick stores)

Grey flannel trousers

The absolute staple of my wardrobe, I love these for the very fact that they can be dressed up to the nines (with a
crisp shirt and heels) without ever looking over the top or they can be dialled down a notch with some white trainers or walking boots. The lesson here is to find trousers which are lined so that you’re not fighting the urge to itch all day. However nice you want to look, comfort is key and, as any truly stylish person knows, it really does shows.

Image: Grey flannel trousers, £225, Whistles (Available at select Fenwick stores)


Little wonder that monochrome is still going strong: it’s snappy and instantly pulls you together without necessarily looking too stark or work-a-day. The key is to look for pattern and texture – a graphic monochrome print top, would look as fabulous teamed with a slick pair of leather joggers as it would a pencil skirt. Similarly, the textured embroidery on this Suno skirt adds a softness and decorative appeal without requiring you to load on the bling.

Image: Skirt, from a selection, Suno (Available at Fenwick Bond Street)


By which I don’t mean pouring yourself into a hoiked-in-at-the-waist dress but rather, finding yourself something that offers a great silhouette which is going to cleverly disguise the 28 mince pies and 10 glasses of gluhwein you will be consuming on Christmas Eve. Noticed how the items in your wardrobe you return to time and again are the ones that cleverly disguise your waist, flatter your curves and create strong lines. Every (Christmas) wardrobe should contain an item like this.

Image: Top and skirt from a selection, Cedric Charlier (Available at Fenwick Bond Street)

Red lippy

Never underestimate the power of red lippy. With one flick of the wrist you are instantly transformed. Because while red can look a touch retro when combined with the swooshiness of a Fifties, Mad Men skirt, it works a treat when you try it with a nude blouse and some navy trousers - just ask Phoebe Philo. Three other great reasons to wear red lipstick is that it looks grown up in a sexy Helmut Newton way as opposed to grown up in a ‘looking like your mother’ way. It looks better than frosted pink; actually anything looks better than frosted pink. Finally it marks you out as high-maintenance and what’s wrong with that?

Image: Lip Colour Matte in Flame, £37, Tom Ford, (Available at select Fenwick stores)


Loungewear and pyjamas

Now that every second of your life is documented on social media, it might be a good idea to give some thought to what you wear for those “Christmas at home pics”. The greying t-shirt and boxer shorts, however comfortable are not ideal while dressing gowns add a lot of bulk. I’m not a fan of loungewear – it looks very contrived and frankly, you might as well get showered and dressed- so my counsel is to wear a crisp pair of men’s style pjs with some contrast piping. They are modest enough when you have relatives to stay and yet stylish enough to wear out.

Image: Pyjamas, £120, The White Company (Available at Fenwick, Bond Street)

By Carolyn Asome