Darren Kennedy style file: How to wear... Christmas jumpers
There are surprisingly chic options out there. Let's get one thing straight: a festive jumper doesn't have to include the word 'novelty' in its description.
Joyful knitwear can simply be beautiful fair isle, intarsia or jacquard prints in classic or cheery colourways. Star or sequin-strewn cashmere also counts, as do witty tributes to all things celestial, like Chinti and Parker's 'Starry Starry Night' sweater, or Kate Moss and Bella Freud's 'Fairytale of New York' knit (pictured).
You don't have to go full hog or look like a hipster
Wearing a Christmas jumper doesn't require you to also wear a Santa hat, reindeer antlers, bauble earrings or any other accessory that actually counts as 'festive'. Nor does it require you to wear your jumper in a clan of bearded gents embracing the Christmas spirit in an ironic sense while knocking back the craft lagers. Wear your understated-yet-jocular yarns with jeans at family gatherings, carol concerts or at the pub with friends, and be safe in the knowledge that your chic cashmere won't be a flammable hazard by the log fires.
Sofia Coppola, Karen Elson and Dree Hemingway wear them
Hip director Sofia Coppola (pictured) paraded her merry sweater on the red carpet. With Bill Murray's face emblazoned on the front (Murray stars in Coppola's new Netflix Christmas special) she then answered questions at the AOL Builders Series with the nonchalance of someone used to wearing scratchy Santa sweaters every day. Take a tip from Coppola though and dress down your roomy jumper of choice.
Where has your Christmas spirit gone?
"It's illegal to appear on Christmas Day without your jumper," notes model Erin O'Connor of her family traditions. We wholeheartedly agree that only a Christmas Grinch wouldn't want to wear one of Erin's designs for Giles Deacon, or the other stylish Yuletide yarns on offer out there.
Question: I've had a long illness and I'm still pretty unwell but slowly improving. I have been invited to a wedding on January 2 which I'm delighted about but also dreading. There will be a lot of family and friends there who I haven't seen in many years and I want to look my best after all the crappy years spent mostly in my PJs. I'm in my mid-40s, although I do look younger and it's not the meds that make me think that! I am 5ft 6ins and a brunette. I have shoulder-length hair, green eyes and love make-up. I'd say my body shape is an inverted triangle. Broad shoulders but not massive, with a slim-ish waist and narrow hips. The best part is, I have good legs. I'm a size 10-to-12 generally.
I would love to wear a knock-out dress that is classy but with a sexy edge (I'm not dead yet!). Most of my shopping recently has had to be from my bed because of my health, but I'm hoping that will change. I know it's a big ask but could you please suggest some dresses that might do the trick?
Romy, via email
Darren replies: Romy, I always say that when it comes to looking well in the clothes we choose to wear, a good attitude and positivity is more than half the battle, and from your email it's clear that you possess both in spades! It also sounds like you've got a figure that women the country over would kill to have so you're starting from a great place.
Ultimately, with a figure as you describe, the goal is to emphasise your curves by cinching in your waist, and in your particular case, making sure to also draw attention to your pins. The lace dress at (1) Wallis (€69) is the ultimate party piece. With a shirt collar, ¾-length sleeve in this season's statement colour red, it ticks all the boxes.
(2) Massimo Dutti's funnel collar dress (€89.95) made in a delicate stretch wool blend is a chic number. With a simple cut, beautifully designed collar, ribbed hem and side vents, it radiates effortless elegance. Pair with a pair of ankle boots for a look that's not trying too hard but is so on point. (3) Isabel Marant's Nerys ankle boot (€760, Brown Thomas) is significantly more expensive but they're made from velvety suede with contrasting tan leather wraparound straps.
For something completely different, how about a jumpsuit? (4) Phase Eight's navy and white printed jumpsuit (€146) with V-neck and wide leg design provides the perfect nod to this season's 1970s trend.
Valentino - My Rockstud Stripe bag, €2,380, Brown Thomas