by Liz Cocozza
Leading fashion director and stylist Liz Cocozza shows you how to style your most flattering festive look with some clever on-trend accessorizing
Super stylist and fashion director Liz Cocozza pictured here getting ready for Christmas in a recent shoot for House Beautiful Magazine wearing her statement burgundy silk velvet Tarra maxi dress. Photograph by @davidloftus for @housebeautifuluk
Christmas is fast approaching, but with a cost of living crisis and recession now moving into full swing, and the media drowning in negativity…is anyone really thinking about their Christmas wardrobe? And is it even appropriate? Or are hair shirts and puffer jackets the mandatory style-du-jour this year? (particularly practical once the heating gets turned down). While thankfully much of the ridiculous and damaging sartorial opulence of yesteryear is disappearing (including fast fashion) and we’re entering a period of more conscious dressing... whether we like it or not, the clothes we wear are a direct expression of who we are, and consequently have an enormous impact on how we feel. So if you want to have a good Christmas, I believe it's always worth making a bit of an effort and dressing up, whatever the circumstances.
And let's not forget the significant contribution fashion makes to our economy, keeping some of the most hardworking and deserving people employed. According to The British Council, the UK’s fashion industry is worth £26 billion & 800,000 jobs to the economy, making it the UK’s largest creative industry. Textile and fashion exports alone are estimated to be worth over £6.5 billion. As anyone with an Economics A-Level will tell you, when times get tough too much thrift is ultimately self fulfilling a paradox. The flip side of the recession coin, is it does focus spending, making consumers more discerning, championing real value, powering the most important future trends, and ultimately separating the economic wheat from the chaff. In my mind, there’s a sensible balance to be struck here, which of course depends on personal circumstances and should definitely include a festive charity contribution if possible. My point is that dressing up, or purchasing a few accessories or even a new Christmas dress really shouldn’t equate to social pariahdom. Particularly if it’s a considered, versatile ‘investment’ piece that will be worn time and again, season after season. So what does this mean in reality? How can you find something like this? And most importantly, when you do find it, or if you have something similar already, how do you dress it up or cost effectively bring it on trend for this season?
As an experienced fashion stylist, I truly believe that any outfit can be brought straight up to the minute with the right accessories, and dressed up or down for a whole host of occasions. From a thrift point of view, this means that if you’ve got a flattering winter dress that already really works for you hanging in your wardrobe, and it ticks all of the right occasion boxes, then you're most of the way there, and it’s then just a case of selecting the right accessories. If you’re shopping for a new dress for the festive season, I would always advise avoiding impulsive, trend driven purchases. Be a little more discerning and find something that’s both easy and comfortable to wear and at the same time really makes you look and feel special. Because this way, you’ll definitely get more wear out of it. Also think forward and about a whole host of potential wearing occasions. Is this something you could honestly also envisage yourself wearing to a relaxed dinner with friends, a dinner out as well as a special occasion or Christmas party. While everyone needs that special winter dress in their wardrobes, these days versatility is very much the fashion watchword, especially with everyone looking to hit their 30 wears targets for sustainability, while being more discerning and value driven.
To help get you started with accessorising and creating a winning on-trend festive look, I’ve selected five versatile pieces from Ridley London’s latest winter collection to help you get started. These are exactly the kind of dresses to think about Some are more flamboyant, some more understated, with clever tips on how to style them and make the most of your seasonal festive wardrobe. I absolutely love Ridley London dresses. They’re a clever modern take on timelessly flattering, feminine style and can be customised in your choice of fabric and custom-made for a perfect fit. So, you’ll really get something that works for you.
Look 1: The classically sumptuous velvet dress
Velvet is a key catwalk trend this winter, and in my book it always feels luxurious and looks chic at anytime of year, but particularly at Christmas. For me this is the ultimate, buy now, love forever dress, an absolute wardrobe classic. It is so versatile and works well for day or night and everything in between. The rich dark blues, greens and red’s are flatteringly slimming. The understated midi style of this Ridley London dress makes it very easy to style for day with long leather or suede knee high boots and a beautiful shoulder bag, but will also work for a party with glittery heels, statement jewellery and a sparkly clutch.
1) If you've got a velvet dress in navy, or burgundy or dark green, I don't think you can beat wearing lots of gold chunky jewellery and a pair of killer heels to create a chic festive look.
2) For a sharp updated look, team black velvet with a clean white or cream to add contrast. Strings of big pearls, white leather boots and a satin evening bag, will add a new monochrome effect to classic black velvet.
3) Jewelled coloured statement earrings and rings, will add the finishing touch to any velvet dress.
Look 2: The sparkly statement dress
If you’re looking to make more of an upbeat statement, Metallic is a must for any wardrobe this season. This glamorous, green sparkly dress screams Christmas party. Dress it up for the special event by adding one of this season's chunky gold statement necklaces and gold strappy heels. Or team with a diamante jewelled earrings and a black satin tux jacket or a black Ridley velvet blazer. Equally, this dress can be played down, worn with a chunky knit, denim or leather jacketed trainers or ankle boots. And suddenly it’s a funky festive skirt.
1) Wear your statement dress with leather trainers and a blazer for day time chic.
2) Create a statement look with a satin slingback and long evening coat for festive drinks
3) Team with a leather jacket and 70’s style suede boots to add some stylish vintage appeal to your metallic dress
Look 3: The versatile winter floral print dress
If you’re looking for a dress that’s really versatile, you can’t do better than something with a print. Print works well for every occasion, but particularly a great buy over the Christmas period when it’s easy to dress up for a party, or down for day. And above all it will see you through winter and into spring. The very nature of print allows you to experiment by mixing on-trend accent colours with versatile and universally flattering base colours like navy blue. And it helps to smooth over unsightly lumps and curves to produce a more flattering silhouette. If you’re more conservative you can always go for a print that’s a little less bold. Add metallic heels and gorgeous statement bag and big hooped earrings. Equally, team with a blazer and boots for a more daytime look. Or throw on a cashmere sweater and pointy flats for a more casual relaxed look
1) Wear with low key jewellery and boots in a bold colour that compliments and matches in with the print.
2) Add a cashmere cardigan and a stylish loafer or pumps for a preppy statement look.
3) A block colour statement winter coat or oversized blazer will bring a modern edge to you classic dress
Look 4: The relaxed Corduroy shirt dress
If your Christmas is anything like mine, it generally involves entertaining family at home, and is a relaxed if somewhat hectic affair. And while it’s nice to dress up and make a special occasion of the day, comfort is paramount when you’re catering for various sets of grandparents, in-laws, cousins etc. And anyway, we definitely live in more informal times, with a more relaxed style of dress. That said I would never do Christmas in jeans and will always opt for a flattering dress, and there’s an array of easy, versatile styles on offer right across the high street this season. I particularly love Ridley London’s chic new vintage style Lyra shirt dress, which comes in an array of cool on-trend needlecords. The style is super relaxing and very easy to dress with boots or a pair of killer heels and statement gold jewellery for a more dressy look.
1) Pair with on-trend classic cowboy boots for a super cool boho look
2) A fine polo neck sweater looks great under a cord shirt dress for the cooler months and is right on the 70's chic vibe.
3) Trainers and a oversized chunky knit sweater will look great over a cord dress, for a warm daytime look this season
Look 5: The elongating silk maxi skirt
You can never go wrong wearing a beautiful floral print statement maxi skirt. Not only are the colours and patterns of this one absolutely stunning but you can literally wear it with anything. A floral skirt is perfect for day with chunky biker boots a black roll neck sweater. Dress it up a little more under a black velvet blazer or bring more edge with a leather biker jacket. Add a statement knit and cool leather day bag for a more relaxed feel. This skirt would work well with trainers and a sweater or alternatively with long leather boots and a statement blouse in a complimentary tone for a festive lunch. Ridley London have so many beautiful floral prints in wool, silks and cord to choose from this season or to have made to measure. And they also have some fabulous silk chiffon blouses in complimentary solids that would work brilliantly. Choose a sweater or blouse to compliment the skirt pattern and flatter your natural colouring.
1) This season pair with a soft silk ruffled blouse or silk peasant style top for an on-trend look
2) Team with fabulous long leather boots in a gorgeous autumnal cover, such as bottle green or burnt orange and a soft leather tote bag.
3) Finish with a velvet tub style jacket or full length evening coat, for a more dramatic glamorous look
Ridley London's new collection of special Christmas dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and knitwear is available to purchase online and in Ridley's Barnes store. Celebrate your individuality this season with a unique piece that's individually crafted to flatter from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral or solid silks or cottons. Or call us to arrange a virtual fitting:
Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 01730 823097