How to wear... sequins
The race is on to pin down the perfect Christmas party dress. Choose sparkle... and plenty of it, writes Meadhbh McGrath
No matter what age you are, the festive season will always mean glitter, and lots of it. From the twinkling tinsel to the flashy fashion, it's not Christmas without a generous dose of glitz, and there's plenty to be found on the high street this winter.
On the catwalks, we were treated to a parade of sequins: Saint Laurent closed the show with rhinestones and rock 'n' roll in a series of floral minidresses, Tom Ford celebrated the return of animal print with shimmering neon suiting, Erdem presented almost-office-appropriate midi skirts with shirts and jumpers, and wonderkid Halpern offered up sparkling super-flares and disco-glam draped dresses.
In other words, the looks were varied and versatile. You can take the plunge with a daring neckline or mini hem, or you can just as easily wow in a spangly skirt paired with a crisp white shirt with embellished collar.
This month sees two high-profile, sequin-heavy collaborations that bring designer fashion at affordable prices. First, there's Halpern's collection for Topshop, which is, happily, very similar to his own line: asymmetric-draped dresses, high-neck blouses with fluted sleeves, and those mega flares (be warned, however, that they can be painful to sit in, not to mention very, very warm). If endless sequins aren't your thing, try a dash of glitz in his one-shoulder velvet dress, the ultimate Studio 54-inspired LBD.
The second collection to note is Ashish's range for Warehouse. The Indian-born, British-based designer is known as the king of sequins, and every piece in his high street capsule is dripping with sparkle. The catsuits and leggings may be tricky to pull off on all but the super-slim, but we recommend one of his funnel neck long-sleeve tops under a blazer with jeans or, best of all, the show-stopping yellow trench.
Sequins may be a bit of Christmas cliché, but that doesn't dull their impact. See Dakota Johnson at a recent film premiere: her red Celine dress isn't exactly reinventing the wheel, but it looks glamorous and sexy, and - most importantly - it does all the hard work for her, so all she needs is a pair of skimpy sandals to finish it off. This is what you want in your partywear: an unfussy piece that instantly hits the spot, and doesn't require too much faffing around to create a 'look'.
Some things you should look out for when buying are the size of the discs (they should be small, steer clear of those large 'penny sequins') and the colour of the piece. Nudes should be avoided, and black is fine, but a bit of boldness is much better. You don't have to go for a full head-to-toe punch of colour, try Kitri's wrap blouse in green or fuchsia and red with elegant tailored trousers.
A bit of sparkle can flatter all shapes and sizes, but thankfully, the days of the bodycon sequinned sheath are over. Details like Rixo's blouson sleeves or Studio by Preen's asymmetric hem add interest, or turn a sequinned trench into a dress - the vibrant yellow and sparkles will fend off any 'flasher' connotations, plus you'll be comfortable all night.
When accessorising, it's best to lean into the glitz, like Kylie Minogue. Where a plain black court or box clutch can look flat and suck the life out of your party piece, a simple sandal in shimmering metallics or a frivolous feathered bag will really make it pop.
The old attitude of saving your sparkle for after-dark has been replaced by a new appreciation for daytime glitz. So you can throw that trench on with blue jeans and trainers, or style that skirt with a rollneck jumper and boots - because sequins are for life, not just for Christmas.