How to Dress for a Christmas Party, Inspired by 1990s Fashion Campaigns

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Valentino A/W95Phography by Walter Chin

It’s that time of year again, but panic not. Bookmark these images now to serve as inspiration for your Christmas party wardrobe

When a social occasion looms large in your December schedule, the kind of sartorial panic that ensues is totally unique to any other. This is because, in all likelihood, that social gathering will be Christmas themed, meaning the normal rules of selecting partywear no longer apply. If the garment of choice doesn’t feature a sequin, unnecessary embellishment or chest-bearing neckline, you may as well forget it and not bother going at all. While this may be the preferable option when it comes to events that involve puff pastry nibbles and small talk, getting out of attending a festive soiree isn’t always possible. But fear not, in the latest edition of our ‘Inspired by 1990s Fashion Campaigns’ series, we provide some outfit inspiration and emotional support. 

1. The ‘side eye’ satin LBD, inspired by Naomi Campbell for Valentino, A/W95 (above)

A little black dress in satin or silk is best worn with an accompanying side eye and plume of smoke exhaled from highly-glossed lips. In short: you are not impressed by anyone in the room except yourself, which is a perfect attitude to bring to those family reunions and festive get-togethers when ex-lovers/arch-nemeses are likely to be present. 

2. Ice queen couture, inspired by Linda Evangelista for Chloé, A/W94

Part garden-centre ornament, part Jayne Torvill playing the role of The Witch in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, this look really doesn’t beat around the bush (or Christmas tree, for that matter). Turkish delight will be awarded to those who succeed in the artful application of frosted eyeshadow.

3. Acceptable sexy Santa, inspired by Shalom Harlow, Amber Valletta and Trish Goff for Versace, A/W95

‘Sexy Santa’ costumes are usually reserved for last minute work fancy dress parties, hurriedly purchased from Ann Summers as a last-ditch attempt at getting into the festive spirit. To avoid embarrassing yourself in front of colleagues after eight mulled wine-based cocktails – and highly unflattering and probably flammable fabrics – channel Shalom Harlow, Amber Valletta and Trish Goff by colour blocking in red, minimalist silhouettes. Perfectly acceptable. 

4. A New Year’s Eve night in, inspired by Carla Bruni and Elle Macpherson for Christian Dior Haute Couture, 1995

There are few people who actually enjoy New Year’s Eve. Everyone who says they do is either lying or immune to the horrors of collective forced fun. Arguably, the best course of action for the 31st of December is to stay indoors with a small group of close friends, avoiding the inevitable entry ticket prices to venues filled with strangers. Spend that money on a piece of 1990s haute couture instead (Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior will do just the trick) and wear it while lounging on the sofa with a bowl of Kettle Chips. 

5. Wearing the mistletoe, inspired by Georgina Grenville for Gucci, A/W96

We’ll keep this to the point: who needs strategically placed foliage as a prompt for some enthusiastic yuletide snogging, when you’re wearing a Tom Ford-era Gucci dress? Not me. Not you. Not anyone.