Ah, December. The most magical time of the year. Summer supposedly arrives in Aotearoa. A time of frantic Christmas shopping, end of year deadlines and a glut of Christmas parties that will have you throwing everything in your wardrobe on the floor with a heartfelt cry of "BUT I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!?"
Let's be honest. What with all the bubbles, canapes and everything else going on, it can be easy to become completely overwhelmed. Never fear - I've been doing some analysis of the four most typical Christmas party looks. Kindly, Wellington fashion designer Wilson Trollope agreed to allow me to put together some looks for you all so I could break-down that Christmas party style.
Simply assess Christmas party vibe, and either directly copy or take inspiration from these looks (Check out the Wilson Trollope pop-up stores in Ponsonby Central if you are in Auckland or Manners Street if you live in Wellington - a full list of stockists throughout New Zealand is here).
But first. How do you know what is appropriate to wear to your work Christmas party? If the former gurus of TV fashion makeover, Trinny and Susannah, taught me anything (apart from 'Invest in a good bra', 'Never wear cap-sleeves' and 'Never date Nigella's ex) it was how to read an occasion and dress/ accessorize as appropriate. This, dear reader, is a very important thing to understand. Your clothes express who you are and how people perceive you. It's the first message you give people about yourself.
My friend, fellow blogger Megan from Mode and Methodology dresses with a purpose in mind every single day. But for those of you, who like me, are a bit out of practice, here is how to play the Christmas party style game (also, you can wear a penguin suit for all I care - these are just some suggestions of my own for those of you who are interested. If you want to rock a bodycon leopard jumpsuit, all power to you!)
1. LOOK: The Casual BBQ at the boss's house/beach
Frequently nowadays, as well as a formal end of year whole office or department party, there will be some kind of team barbecue-like affair, either at the boss's house or on one of New Zealand's many beaches.
Take this opportunity to work the 50's Grace Kelly in the Hamptons vibe. The trick is to be dressed practically but to still look polished. Make sure you feel comfortable and can move, but still feel swish.
"Take this opportunity to work the 50's Grace Kelly in the Hamptons vibe"
"Your clothes express who you are and how people perceive you. It's the first message you give people about yourself"
I went with Wilson Trollope's Cumulus Culottes and a cute button down sleeveless Arabesque shirt plus some simple 70's style clogs. The heel is super chunky so there are no worries about sinking into the sand (plus, let's be honest, everyone will be bare feet by the end of the evening). Otherwise go with loafers or espadrilles. I like that a pair of culottes have that real retro vibe, and make your waist look petite, but are as comfortable as a pair of jeans.
"This necklace says, 'I may be a domestic goddess but I'm also a bad ass mama so don't mess with me"
The mood is casual, yet still a bit sophisticated. This necklace says, 'I may be a domestic goddess but I'm also a bad ass mama so don't mess with me. I'll be telling you what brand of tomato sauce we're serving - and it ain't Watties'. Try pairing your look with some large sunglasses, a statement necklace and a bottle of Veuve. Now put that steak on.
2. LOOK: The Casual Do / 'Gamine style'
We all like to get a little flirty from time to time. So when you want to make sure that Brian from IT notices you, go for something fresh and chic. I love this Willow Ocean dress - it's modern yet timeless, just like Audrey Hepburn (plus, it has long sleeves to keep those Polish sausages from escaping - I stopped doing press ups long ago and choose cheese over chin ups - you feel me?).
"It has long sleeves...I stopped doing press ups long ago and choose cheese over chin ups - you feel me?"
This is the perfect outfit to go from work to play in. A cute dress will never let you down, especially if, like this one, it is gathered at the nippiest part of your waist (my hips DO NOT lie - so I've got to take the wins where I can).
"This is the perfect outfit to go from work to play in. A cute dress will never let you down"
Simply swap out your corporate shoes for a casual pair of Converse, and you'll be set to go. I love a slash of red lipstick (Ruby Woo is my favourite by Mac) to give a touch of glamour to this look. It is heavily inspired by Lily Allen circa 2006 (I will always be a fan) when she would wear her puffy sneakers with vintage ballgowns.
What I love about a cute dress like this is that it moves in the breeze, yet also hits the knee so your modesty will remain intact. Personally, I rarely wear anything much shorter - and it is not because I am getting older. I just have never been about the excess of thigh on display (this meant high school dating was generally quite quiet over here). Just think modern and chic, with a nod to the swinging 60's.
This look will work perfectly whether you're outside or in (helpfully covering your shoulders). If you want to make it more high-wattage, just swap sneakers for a pair of pumps.
As far as accessories go, work a pair of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's style glasses (these ones are from Glassons) and a pair of simple studs with a contrasting piece of cocktail jewellery, like this necklace (in store at Wilson Trollope). That hint of sea green just makes the lips and blue on the dress pop and the glittery diamante say 'I can drink beer with the best of them but I also have class and know what's hip.' Now that will get Brian's external hard drive going and leave everyone at the work party raving. You ARE the belle of the ball! AmIright? Of course.
"That hint of sea green just makes the lips and blue on the dress pop"
3. LOOK: A sleek and sophisticated bash
When work is taking you somewhere a bit fancy, like on a boat maybe (!!!), it is fun to just throw caution to the wind and go all in. This look is for those who want Christmas Party glam. Go baby blue! What the heck! Damn the dry cleaning bill! With a vibe that is part Baroness from The Sound of Music, part 60's model, you'll steal the show with a dress that works harder. This is the Forget Me Not dress from Wilson Trollope and I LOVE it.
This is a look where trends are disposed of in favour of timeless chic. It needs to be well tailored, so look for dresses that aren't too busy and have a focus on the waist and shoulders. You may need to consider wearing a strapless bra with this look because the straps are quite long. Good underwear always wins.
"Go baby blue! What the heck! Damn the dry cleaning bill!"
"There is no point looking like a glamour puss but acting like a sour puss"
I think by now you'll have worked out I am a huge fan of 'The Statement Necklace' (all these ones are from Wilson Trollope in store). But in addition, why not go for a statement bag. This one is gold and a perfect size for the party essentials. Ahoy Sailor!
The main thing is to make sure you are relaxed in your outfit so you can have fun. The shoes here are heels, but so soft they are like slippers (here Country Road, very loved, over 10 years old). There is no point looking like a glamour puss but acting like a sour puss. Organise what you need to make sure the night goes smoothly, whether that is ordering an Uber to the work party venue instead of walking (go on, treat yo' self) or going with a simple makeup look. Think Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton or Emma Stone. Have fun and be elegant (will at least until after the boss leaves).
4. LOOK: Corporate Swag
If your work Christmas event is a bit more formal, or you have a sit down dinner to attend, you can still be modern as well as corporate. The key is to balance your pieces out, add a great jacket and throw in something a little bit unexpected, like the pink mohair handbag by Pedro's Bluff below. Finally make sure you add killer heels. Oh - and a ton of CONFIDENCE.
"Finally make sure you add killer heels. Oh - and a ton of CONFIDENCE"
This look is somewhere between elegant cruise ship chic (in a good way) and don't mess with me #Girlboss. You can convey that you are at the head of the table without going 80's power suit. I also love that the Twilight dress has a stretchy black panel at the back of the arms to make sure they are able to be properly fitted.
"You can convey that you are at the head of the table without going 80's power suit"
This look is serious enough for a corporate client event, but also feminine and chic. It says you know what is current and are confident not just to wear all black (tempting always). The structured pieces suggest authority yet also a deliberate femininity. Make sure that you perfect the walk to let them know who's in charge. Corporate vogue.
"Make sure that you are going to feel your best so you can leave 2016 on a high"
Christmas work party's should be fun - so make sure you don't feel uncomfortable. Show off your best assets and know how to disguise the things that may be less flattering. Pick stuff you like to wear, but also don't expect just to know exactly what you will put on just ten minutes before leaving. Think about the event, who will be there, who you want to impress and the image you need to project. But above all - BE YOU! Feel happy about who you are and that will help you shine more than any statement necklace can. Make sure that you are going to feel your best so you can leave 2016 on a high.
If you want more cool stories about Wellington and exclusive snapshots of life in the city, subscribe to the blog (above), follow onYouTube, Instagram, Twitter and add me on Snapchat (residents_welly).