An office-party outfit to make a good impression
Style Clinic:I’ve been in my current job for three years but somehow I’ve managed to avoid every Christmas party – until this one. I’m hoping to ask for a raise in January and I reckon rubbing shoulders with my colleagues is probably a wise move.
But what do I wear? It’s not all that formal, so I don’t want to be the only geek in the pinstripe suit, but I don’t want to turn up in a ripped jeans and hoodie combo, either. Any advice?
Luke, by email
I admire your enterprising spirit – a bit of sucking up, as you perhaps more politely say yourself, never did anyone any harm, particularly when seeking a pay rise. You will need to be cautious, however; keep the flattery to a minimum, and don’t be tempted to rock up to your Christmas party all gussied up like Sandy in the finale of Grease.
If ripped jeans + hoodie = your MO (I feel that equation is becoming all too common), don’t veer too far away from it. Just give it a slight nip and tuck, so that you look like a more groomed, more serious version of the hard worker they know and love. This look, from Next (jacket, €133; shirt, €35; jumper, €43; jeans, €60; and brogues, €70) is put together and stylish without feeling superior. For a slightly more relaxed vibe, you could pair your (non-ripped) jeans with a pair of dark trainers or brown shoes (scuffed leather is fine, as long as they are clean).
Overall you should be aiming for relaxed sophistication, without appearing uptight or desperate. A light knit over a slim fit shirt with a pair of dark jeans or slacks would be perfect – your best bets on the high street are Zara, River Island and Topman. If your budget stretches, you could check out French label the Kooples at Brown Thomas and BT2, Dundrum.
Since having children I have put on a lot of weight and am now a size 18 to 20. I’d like to wear jeans but I feel like having a large belly and generous rear means my denim days are behind me. Should I should stick with skirts and dresses – or are there jeans out there that will work for me?
Jeanie, by email
Of course there are jeans out there that will work for you – although the more important question is whether you will be happy in them. If you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, any benefits that wearing jeans might bestow – warmth, being able to wear ballet pumps in wintertime, not having to wear tights – are immediately negated.
In order to make you feel the most comfortable, think about what jeans will work for your body shape. I find that, unless one is a supermodel, low-rise jeans are out of the question. Look for denims with a high waistband and a bit of stretch (don’t be afraid if you see the word “spandex” on the label).
Marks & Spencer’s five-pocket jeggings, despite the desperate name, start at just €30 and are an incredible fit. (Yes, I know I’ve mentioned them before. they are incredible and absolutely worth harping on about.) They go up to a size 24 and come in three leg lengths.
Another thing that will help you feel comfortable in your jeans is wearing something appropriate on top. A longer and slightly looser top will cover those areas you are self-conscious about – your tummy and bum – without covering you up, muumuu-style.
Asos Curve, the online retailer’s plus-sized line, starts at an 18 and is currently stocking these great forest-green skinnies (right, €38.89). Paired with a loose shirt or oversized sweater, these are a great winter look – and will allow you to experiment with your denims without breaking the bank.
A final unlikely attempt might be made in Forever 21’s plus-sized section. The sizes are a little tricky (starting at 1X, going up through 2X, 3X and so on) so they will require trying on, but they have a great range of cool, unfussy pieces – and they don’t go down the Evans route of trying to get you to camouflage every inch of your body with loose cotton.