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  • more winging it in biker boots and a black cardi (as I did recently in the Royal Box at London's Royal Opera House). Dressing up is easy if you have the right pieces to hand, so here are my six essentials that will take some of the pressure off this party season.

    First on the list: a fancy shift. Look at the gold-beaded beauty from Lanvin, or the scalloped bronze one from DKNY. Festive but not vulgaire and a forgiving-enough silhouette to accommodate multiple mince pies, this is an absolute must.

    Second: a body-con dress. Look
    at the winter-white one by Antonio Berardi, or the strapless
    antique-rose style from Burberry Prorsum for inspiration – especially if you have yoga arms or "give good clavicle" (which I like to think I do, when everything else is going to pot). However, if your best point is your waist, then go for a prom
    dress from the likes of Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta or Giambattista Valli. Sigh. Sometimes, I do so wish I had a waist.

       Third: a proper party bottom. This could be a pair of crème silk pants from Valentino, or a red skirt from Christopher Kane edged in Spider-Man lacework. (Red – don’t underestimate the appropriateness of it this time of year.) Or what about the metallic dirndl skirt Natalie Portman recently wore on the red carpet with the simplest of black tops? (Again, lucky you with nimble waists who can pull this off.) The assumption is that it is the top that is all that matters. But working from the bottom upwards (shoes, hose, corrective underwear)
    gives you a nice party "base".

    Fourth: say it via your accessories. A red minaudière from Bottega Veneta, perhaps? Costume jewelry from the newly vamped Erickson Beamon? Crazy gold butterfly heels from Sergio Rossi?

    “UNDER-DRESSING at this time of year is BAD manners. Sorry if that’s OVER-PRESSURIZING”

    It's an old, fail-safe trick for all you scaredy-cats/lazy-bones out there.

    Fifth: a jumpsuit. Yeah, you
    heard. Like 3.1 Phillip Lim’s sleeveless black one with the jeweled collar. So easy, so simple and yet so right with, say, a bejeweled cardi by L'Wren Scott draped around your shoulders.

    Sixth: anything long. Nothing is more appropriate for evening than long. I don't know why I have a block about it – maybe because in the back of my head, I think it is dowdy. But what is dowdy about a ruffled, full-length gown by Lanvin in forest-green silk? Or a flattering full-length column in scarlet by Saint Laurent? If you have never gone long for evening, now is most definitely the time to start.

    Are you daunted? Does it sound like an awfully big shopping list? I hear you. But even if you plan to be in bed with earplugs by 12.01am, as I know many of you out there do, you still have to make the effort. Under-dressing at this time
    of the year amounts to bad manners. Sorry if that sounds over-pressurizing, but it's the truth.

    How to dress up,




    A scarlet gown equals forever chic.


    Bold heels are an easy way to vamp your look.


    It may seem
    like a daring choice, but a
    sleek jumpsuit makes event dressing easy.

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