Is it just me or has December crept up on us this year? It doesn't seem five minutes since we were agonising over nautical stripes, tropical prints and wooden wedges, and suddenly our current wardrobe worries are over what denier tights to deliver with the woollen mini, do I opt for a fur gilet or snood and can I wear a sequin jacket to a Friday board meeting?
Winter dressing certainly has its woes and this time of year demands a lot of effort in the wardrobe department. You can't simply bulk up on woolies and get away with it, you need an A-list supply of party wear and layering is crucial in mastering the fluctuating temperatures from chilly snowy streets to snug log fired pubs.
When faced with this barrage of fashion demands it is easy to shy away and throw on the cozy jumper and leggings or stick with last years LBD. But don't. Instead, now is the time to cherish all things stylish and deliver on all counts, especially when it comes to pulling a sartorial cracker at the Christmas party.
First on the agenda is the office Christmas bash and this is certainly a time to shine and show off your style skills, finding the perfect balance between festive glamour and professional elegance. If you are having one of those 'its 4.55pm, time to crack open the fizz' type parties, you will need a desk to party ready outfit. A simple shift dress in a bold colour or print teamed with a demure cardi or fitted blazer is perfectly acceptable by day and come cocktail hour, simply switch out the modest for some dazzle and don some killer heels and bold jewellery.
A leather or metallic skirt (below the knee of course) or even a bejewelled skirt and blouse or fine knit will look equally as stylish at work as it will come party time. Simply change studs to statement earrings, grab a party ready embellished clutch and step out in some super strappy heels or ankle boots. Simple switches, such as changing from tote to clutch, pumps to stilettos and day blazer to a sequinned jacket transform every day work separates into glittering after dark party ensembles with minimal effort.
For the men, a roll neck is this winter's answer to the classic white shirt and can be worn with a sharp suit or for a more casual approach with jeans and a blazer. A velvet jacket will give your office slacks a refined finish and for the dapper gent, a pair of shiny Stan Smiths is a party ready alternative to classic Oxfords. Stay away from festive jumpers if you are trying to impress colleagues. A pair of festive socks is as far as novelty wear should go while business is still on the agenda.
For those evening events when you have the luxury of time to prepare, then you really can max out on the fashion front. And for inspiration, the recent British Fashion Awards red carpet looks were bursting with party perfect looks, starting with backless – yes if you can brave it, bear it. Victoria Beckham and Karlie Kloss both proved that a backless dress, or sweater is an elegant alternative to baring your cleavage. But if it is your legs that have benefitted from a 2014 of pilates toning, then go for a split skirt dress or skirt and lace blouse as worn by Cara Delevingne and Olivia Palermo.
If you prefer to keep covered up and allude to bare skin, go for something subtle and sheer. When it comes to colour, forget black and flaunt icy pale pink or champagne, dazzling white (outshine the pack in a white tux or little white dress) or sheeny silver. A trouser suit, tux or slick jumpsuit also makes a refreshing alternative to a classic cocktail dress.
For a glittering finale, a box or bejewelled clutch will finish off any party piece and go for strappy or embellished killer heels. If your ensemble is particularly busy or sparkly keep jewellery to a minimum, or for a head turning effect, adorn yourself in gems galore. An oversized bejewelled necklace or chandelier earrings will add a twinkle to more straight-laced styles.
This season's party hair is effortless, well at least that is the look of the finished product - that tied back hair that has been artfully crafted to look like its simply been pinned back in a low bun, or slicked back to one side and left loose over the other shoulder.
When it comes to your make-up, a bold lip takes seconds to apply and again is an instant style changer, and smoky eyes scream evening elegance. Just go for one or the other and don't mix heavy lips and eyes.
See below for the slideshow of key pieces for Christmas 2014 or read more here about dressing for Christmas 2014