Glitter, mistletoe, cheesy songs, and the chance to flirt over a glass of bubbly - Christmas parties are an unusual opportunity for a big group to get together, and whether it's the chance to meet someone new or to enjoy the glamour a winter party can offer, we want to look our best.
But how to do it? Is it worth wearing a dress that requires Bridget Jones scary ‘suck it in' knickers? Will high heels spell death on the dance floor or will flats look too frumpy? And this credit crunched Christmas it's not so easy to splash out on a new party frock.
Fear not - Local Secrets has called in experts - personal shopper Bev Briggs of B-Yourself Personal Shopping, and Stephanie Sunshine Makeover Artist. We asked three local ladies, one in her 50s, one in her 40s and one in her 20s, to tell us about their hang-ups, then kitted them out for the perfect festive fiesta with tips for ladies of each age group. (Details of all the outfits are at the end of the article.)
50s - Barbara
Barbara is a former manager, currently taking a year's sabbatical to plan her next career move. She normally opts for dark trousers and brightly coloured, fitted tops, although for evening wear she feels most comfortable in a black dress. Not a fan of her legs, but with a great Marilyn Monroe-esque hourglass figure, Barbara wanted to go for a classic evening look for her Christmas party.
The Personal Shopper:
"We wanted a sophisticated, elegant look for Barbara, something to take her to a classy function. The dress glides over Barbara's curvy shape, and the cream inserts on the dress keep the look lighter and reflect light onto her face (important when wearing black close to our skin as we age). This also works with the cream/silver necklace. The light stole is a great alternative to a jacket as it keeps the look soft, still showing off Barbara's shoulders whilst covering the parts of her arms that she's not so happy with. The length of the dress finishes at a flattering part of Barbara's leg and is finished off with some elegant shoes. The gorgeous bag is sparkly and elegant and would sit equally well with a pair of fitted jeans and a glitzy top."
"I wanted to give Barbara a soft, glamorous look just like the 1950's - glowing fair skin, smokey eyes with black, silver and shimmery eye shadows, and false eyelashes. We completed the look with red glossy lips. To add volume to her hair we used rollers and hairspray, then blow dried for added bounce."
What did Barbara think?
"This look made me feel really good and girly. I loved my hair - it had much more volume than normal. I wouldn't normally wear this much makeup but it made me feel quite sophisticated, and the outfit was comfortable to wear as well as elegant."
40s - Claire
Claire works in marketing, so likes to keep up a good appearance. She tends to wear comfortable and understated clothes, with a favourite bracelet and earrings, and large gem-stone jewellery for evenings. She prefers unobtrusive makeup, mainly using a good mascara and lip gloss, and while she prefers to hide her stomach and shoulders, she's happy to show off her long legs.
The Personal Shopper:
"Claire wanted a more casual look. She has great legs so we teamed went for black jeggings with decorative studded sides - ideal for a party look. Jeggings (a mix between leggings and jeans) are great comfort-wise as they have an elasticated top, which also minimises the bulkiness of a waistband. The cowl shaped tunic is great for Claire as it covers the tops of her arms and drapes over her tummy (an area - like so many of us, she is conscious of.) The sequins shimmer and reflect movement, and give a soft, fluid look. This top would also look great with some dark, straight legged jeans or black trousers. Claire is tall so we opted for sparkly pumps, but this outfit would look equally as good with high heels."
"I gave Claire a 1970's/California look; golden suntan and polished make-up in townie eye shades and glossy lips. For the eyes, I used frosted blue and shimmery, orangey eye shadows, with a line of dark blue glittery eyeliner. Next I applied a soft orangey pink shade of blusher on the cheek. Finally I outlined her lips with a tangy orange pencil, filled in with matching colour and covered with gloss."
What did Claire think?
"I would never have chosen the jeggings, as I thought they would be too over the top, but I was really pleased with the overall look and felt like a rock chick! I loved the straight hair, as my hair is usually wavier (I must buy a decent hairdryer!) I thought the make-up was dramatic and I would never have thought of using the colours Stephanie did, but overall I felt really comfortable and thought the outfit was flattering."
20s - Fiona
Fiona cycles everywhere so despite a fondness for long skirts and heels she tends to wear trousers for practicality. She prefers strong colours so opts for bright reds, blues, or greens in her clothing and jewellery, and while she doesn't wear much make-up she goes for red lipsticks to brighten things up. With a smaller bust she finds it difficult to find a good-looking neckline, but she is happier to show off her legs.
The Personal Shopper:
"Violet is a great colour for brunettes so this was spot-on for Fiona. The sweetheart neckline is good for adding shape to a smaller bust and the slight ruching adds interest. The bow at the waist adds curviness and the length shows off Fiona's fabulous long legs! Killer heels and a contrasting bag break up the colour. The statement necklace and ring link the colours together. I wanted to keep the look young and fresh to go with Fiona's personality."
"I chose for Fiona a sexy, oriental evening look. I use a matt foundation to provide a smooth base for the rest of the make up. I applied shimmery gold eye shadows to the eye socket and applied dark purple to the upper corner lids, then blended in with light purple to the socket line towards the brow. To accentuate them even more I added fantasy eye lashes, and then lined them with black eyeliner. For the lipstick and blusher I used the colour of the hand bag as inspiration."
What did Fiona think?
"I loved the outfit I chose with Bev - it was much more daring than I would normally choose and I felt a little self-conscious showing off so much leg! I loved the colour. I tend not to go for purple but I was surprised by how zingy it looked - and the heels were fantastic, although I needed to practice walking in them! Again the makeup was different - much more than I'd normally wear and I'd tend to go for darker, more reddy lips, and less emphasis on the eyes, but I was really pleased with the oriental look, and I loved the volume she put in my hair - if only I had time to do that every day!"
So there we have it ladies, the best looks for this season's festivities. Whether you decide to start an impromptu karaoke session on the bar, dive at your workmate under the mistletoe, or have an eggnog fight, at least you'll look fabulous doing it.
Bev Briggs of B-Yourself Personal Shopping is based in Cambridge and offers various packages including a ‘wardrobe weed' and group sessions. You can read more about her in the article ‘Personal Shopper for Everyone!' and click here to visit her website
Stephanie Sunshine Makeover Artist is a qualified, experienced Make-up Artist and Hairstylist, who prides herself on being professional and on bringing creative flair and a unique sense of style to every job. Stephanie offers exquisite hair and makeup services, to media and individual clients throughout the UK and abroad. Contact her on 07545351734 or click here for more informataion
Dress: Debut at Debenhams: £80
Stole: Debut at Debenhams: £18
Shoes: Next, £26
Bag: Coast, £55
Necklace: BHS, £10
Ring: Primark, £1.50
Top: Red Herring, available at Debenhams, £32
Black Jeggings: Red Herring, available at Debenhams, £22
Shoes: Red Herring, available at Debenhams, £15
Clutch bag: Wallis, £10
Chunky silver coloured bangle: Wallis, £10
Violet Dress: Coast, £85
Purple Shoes: Faith, £70
Necklace: Next, £12
Bag: Barratts, £13
Sparkly tights: Primark, £3
Earrings: Primark, £1.96
Ring: Primark, £2.50