Your time to sparkle

 

by Camilla Ridley

The Christmas party season is almost here and it's the time to start thinking about that hero outfit that will make you look and feel amazing. Here is our guide to dressing for your Christmas party season.

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Influencer Annabel from @belsfashionedit shows off a new Ridley London metallic velvet Jane maxi dress with friend Ros @rosrautenberg in a printed floral silk Vinia wrap dress. While my friend Heidy @heidybrynjacobsenyoga is ready to party in our new Candice maxi dress in vibrant purple metallic silk chiffon

And already we’re halfway through November which means the Christmas party season is literally just around the corner. The time to celebrate with lashings of festive cheer and goodwill to all. Just try telling that to the politicians! But lets put aside the party politics and talk parties. Because invitations are starting to hit the post which makes this the perfect time to start thinking about that hero outfit, .the one that is going to make you look and feel amazing and see you through the festive season and beyond. So if you're attending a Christmas event be it a wedding, office party, charity ball, family or formal black-tie celebration, what should you be wearing this year? To help you avoid the pitfalls of the panic purchase or the predictable 'oh so dull' safe bet, we’ve created The Ridley London guide to Savvy Christmas dressing in 2019.

The best place to start is understanding what events you are dressing for, where they rank on the formality scale and how this translates into specific dress codes. For more formal events the clues are often in the small print within the invitation: 'Gala Evening’ or ‘Black Tie’ for women generally translates as “long”, and in an evening-appropriate fabric, such as velvet, chiffon, silk or lace. The longstanding rule of thumb here is the more classical the style of invitation…the thicker the woven stock and more fanciful the calligraphy the more traditional and conservative these codes are likely to be. And in general the more rigidly they should be stuck to.

So does ‘Gala Evening’ have to mean full-length dresses? Not necessarily. These days, who really wants to look entirely predictable anyway? As Anna Murphy in the Times puts it "Predictable runs the risk of presenting you as, you guessed it, predictable. And that just isn’t very modern!” And let's face it, looking our very best is about feeling as relaxed, comfortable and confident as possible. Which is all about striking our own perfect balance. So if you’re the kind of person that’s happier blending in, by all means, stick within the codes and safe bets. But if you are a little bit more of an individual then a silk jumpsuit or retro-style print or metallic silk maxi dress with the right heels and accessories would be a perfect modern alternative for a gala ball.

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Our Ridley London pick of statement silk maxi dresses for formal Christmas occasions including black-tie gala events. Every Ridley London maxi dress can be tailored to fit in your choice of luxurious silks. (Clockwise from top) The new Octavia silk Midaxi dress, the Jodi silk maxi dress and the Jane silk maxi dress 

The real conundrum today is dressing for any occasion is becoming far more socially nuanced. Especially if you want to look like someone who really has got something to say.  Athis month’s Vogue so eloquently captures it "In a world where attire is becoming increasingly casual across the board, dress code dilemmas are now ten-a-penny.” And this really is where dressing with a little more individuality and self-confidence, along with clever styling really comes into its own. So often it’s not just about the clothing you wear but how you pull an outfit together that counts. And for me, there’s definitely a sweet spot to strike for each individual personality, physique and type of occasion. 

So once you’ve established the dress code, the crowd and how you want to come across, it's about finding the styles that will really flatter and accentuate your individuality. Left to our own devices, more often than not we’ll stick within our comfort zones with the predictable tried and tested. And this is where smart styling can make an enormous difference, moving you on and injecting freshness and energy into your wardrobe and accessories choices. As a designer, my aim is for everyone to come away with an outfit that makes them look and feel fabulous with a new lease of energy and self confidence. At Ridley we start with each individual to understand their personality, comfort zones, natural colouring, physical attributes and aspirations and translate this into a unique outfit that really delivers. Often this will be something entirely different to what they may have initially gravitated towards. And sometimes a customer's natural intuitions and self-awareness might be spot on and it’s a question of highlighting unusual colour, print and material choices or an extraordinary pair of shoes that can really help them sparkle. 

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The Ridley London Christmas cocktail mix of more relaxed outfits includes (from top) the Margot Carmen dark floral printed silk chiffon midi dress, the luxurious Vinia wrap midi dress and the black jannah Ellie jumpsuit. All these items are individually made to order and tailored to fit

To give you an insight into our approach, we’ve highlighted some possible options we would recommend for different styles of Christmas event along with some thoughts on styling details to maximise impact and versatility. We’re also running a Ridley styling event next Tuesday evening (26 November) at our Barnes store with colour guru Jules Standish (read more here) to help you discover your perfect look for your Christmas events and the colours, styles, prints and accessories that are going to make you look and feel amazing. To book tickets or for further information please e-mail info@ridleylondon.com And please note there are only a limited number of tickets available which are on a first come first serve basis.

Unique looks for formal festivities including gala and Black tie balls

I would tend to recommend longer maxi style dresses here. Always elegant and flatteringly elongating, even if you are on the petite side…simply pair with stacked heels. While you will know you’re on safe ground in terms of formal dress codes, full-length dresses needn’t be predictable. This winter we have some on-trend retro styles in striking colours and prints, as well as sumptuous new silk velvets. And our stand-out metallic silks are guaranteed to bring some sparkle to your festivities. Colour-wise red is not only festive but bang on trend for this season. To introduce a bit of edge, my rule of thumb here would be the more classic and understated the style the bolder the fabric and vice versa. Or why not try one of our silk jumpsuits?

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The Ridley London selection for laid back Christmas events include (clockwise from top) our maxi skirt in luxurious printed floral silk teamed with a red satin Kathy blouse, the Martha midi skirt in printed satin silk teamed with a gold pussy-bow Katerina blouse and the new leather wrap skirt teamed with a printed floral silk Katerina blouse

Chic cocktail dresses and outfits for out on the town

If you’re looking to make a glamorous statement each of the dresses above would work equally well for a festive Christmas cocktail party. Personally I’d go for a slightly more relaxed midi dress style for less formal events or dinner out on the town. All of our styles are incredibly flattering with tailoring adapted to flatter different body types. And with dark florals in this season, the Margot Carmen silk midi dress is bang on trend, especially when worn with ankle boots and one of our new leather biker jackets or trench for an edgier urban look. Or wear it with heels for a smarter evening look.

Laidback looks for daytime and easy evening festivities

With formal dress codes largely confined to the past, you can now just choose things which make you look and feel you're very best. And simply style them up or down accordingly. Bringing maximum versatility and wear value to your wardrobe, as Virginia Chadwyck-Healey recently pointed out in The Telegraph. With that in mind, all of the items listed in the category above would work equally well for daytime or evening events enabling you to move seamlessly from offices and lunches onto restaurants and parties with very little extra effort needed. That said, you may prefer separates which can feel a bit more casual than a dress, and can literally be teamed with anything from jeans and heels or cosy knitwear and trainers, offering you a multitude of flattering looks for the festive season ahead.

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