Party time. But what to wear? Five people show off their unique festive style

Some of Dublin’s boldest partygoers reveal their outfits for the Christmas season

Taryn de Vere wearing a red velvet dress – a gift from her mother about 20 years ago – which she upcycled with glitter. The headpiece, earrings and wrap she made herself

Taryn de Vere wearing a red velvet dress – a gift from her mother about 20 years ago – which she upcycled with glitter. The headpiece, earrings and wrap she made herself

 

With the fizzy Christmas party period about to pop, we talk to some of the Dublin’s boldest partygoers and high-octane dressers about what they wear during the festive season. Do they wrap themselves in tinsel and sparkle, are they bold with silver and gold, or do they reject the twinkly fancies?

James Kavanagh wearing Asos and Gucci. Photograph: Alan Betson
James Kavanagh wearing Asos and Gucci. Photograph: Alan Betson

JAMES KAVANAGH, presenter and co-author of The Currabinny Cookbook.

“My friends expect me to dress up, so you have to put on a bit of a show and give them what they want. I have a few Christmas parties in my house for friends and family, and always one on New Year’s Eve for friends. I love velvet as it goes nicely in candlelight, and this season I will wear a deep gold velvet smoking jacket with satin lapels and a big fat ribbon tie around the middle which I got on Asos. It’s very Marie Antoinette.

“I would go full throttle with velvet pants as well in deep green – the idea is that you look as if you are wearing pyjamas, but not quite. It’s pyjama couture basically, so when things loosen up at a party, you feel quite comfortable. With that I would wear those Gucci loafers with fur on the side.

“I am not cutting corners here. You have to be luxurious at Christmas and I think every day is an excuse to dress up, but at Christmas you can get away with everything and really let loose.”

Alima Doumbouya in her party dress at home in Ringsend, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times
Alima Doumbouya in her party dress at home in Ringsend, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times

AMILA DOUMBOUYA, works for Irish global service provider ICON

“I came to live in Ireland from Paris in my early 20s in 2007, and I discovered how the Irish like to party at Christmas – people really go crazy. At Christmas I love to dress up and go all out, but what was really surprising was the way Irish women dress. So much make-up and fake tan – the French don’t wear fake tan, they don’t need to – and such very short skirts.

“It’s good that women wear whatever they want to wear, but Irish style at parties did surprise me. They wear high heels much more here too – and I love my runners. As for parties, if I am going on my own, I would go all out a bit more, but if I am with my partner, I would wear a nice top, black pants and ankle boots. I love Penneys as it is still the best place if you want something quickly. And I love Asos – I have just bought a really nice knee-length red dress from it which I can dance in, and I’ll wear it with some little pink pumps, low heels or boots with a little bag and a jacket. For big sizes I go to Mango and New Look online.

“For me, what is important is to feel comfortable and to be dressy, but not too dressy. You don’t want to wear skirts that are so short that you spend all night pulling them down (over your knees) – that has happened to me, so I have learned the hard way. Also, I will never wear a strapless dress to a party because on one occasion the front of it came down in front of a colleague, so never again.”

Andrea Horan wearing her party wear at home in Portobello, Dublin. Dara Mac Dónaill
Andrea Horan wearing her party wear at home in Portobello, Dublin. Dara Mac Dónaill

ANDREA HORAN, activist and founder of Tropical Popical

 “I dress for longevity when I go to parties. Since I can end up in any scene – because you never know what the night can bring – I will never wear heels since I can dance all night and if I end up having to cross the city, I will be comfortable. I never buy clothes for occasions because I always feel you can put a better outfit together from the clothes you know that make you feel good than those bought for a special occasion. Also, that keeps sustainability in mind.

“I usually wear sequins or tulle – for me tulle means party. I always wear a pair of runners. It is always the accessories that make the party pieces – sometimes a tracksuit bottom with a glam top to dress it up. Christina Aguilera wore an Adidas tracksuit bottoms with a glam top in Cassidy’s recently. Some venues, however, are very pedantic about what they call “neat dress”, and wouldn’t serve me if dressed in tracksuit bottoms.

“People go wild about Christmas party dressing – it is such an Irish thing – and you can’t get dinner reservations, blow dries or nails before Christmas in Ireland. In New York you get everything the day before. I feel I am ready to party all the time, so it doesn’t change at Christmas. I am in the zone all year.”

John Redmond, in his party wear at home with some of his paintings in Churchtown, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
John Redmond, in his party wear at home with some of his paintings in Churchtown, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

JOHN REDMOND, creative director, Brown Thomas

 “I go to house and dinner parties at Christmas and tend to wear things that I like. I love Dries Van Noten and what he does. I have check tartan trousers belted with a kilt on one side that I love. It is a heavy winter item, but I also have a black-tie version which is similar, in black tapestry with a silk satin jacket. I wear it with a T-shirt with dress cuffs, also DVN. I am wearing that to my niece’s wedding in December.

“I never think of what I wear as dressing up. Men have got way smarter these days dressing for parties, and it is easier to wear interesting things because there is access. I don’t wear a tie – though I don’t dislike them. I do wear suits, though you don’t tend to see them at parties now, but I always break them up. One of the things I don’t wear anymore are skinny jeans with a blazer – I know that’s still fashionable, but I just don’t do it. I only wear trainers and boots and only certain trainers to parties – Balenciaga or Acne – because they fit with what I wear. 

“As a painter I am perhaps always conscious of what I will wear at my openings, so I could find myself wearing a colour that I am painting, so I think it is a (subconscious) influence. My favourite go-to on a rainy morning in winter is to put on something bright. And my brights are bright!”

Taryn de Vere wearing a red velvet dress. Her hairband, wrap and jewellery she made herself
Taryn de Vere wearing a red velvet dress. Her hairband, wrap and jewellery she made herself

TARYN DE VERE, mother of five, artist, writer and fashion activist living in Donegal

“I am one of those people who is always overdressed for the occasion. Being eccentric is more fun. My Christmases as a child were spent in the rural Australian outback and were very hot. I remember one when we had to have Christmas dinner in the hallway of the farmstead and my aunt, a costume designer, rigged up a fabric fan and someone had to sit on the Singer sewing machine and keep pedaling it – you couldn’t eat outside because flies would have been a torture.

“I have a big vintage collection of aprons that I love to wear over long skirts, and at Christmas I wear one in red twill with white snowflakes over a striped black and white full skirt. I wear mad things on my head like a green wig.

If I am really full on at a party, I will probably wear my copy of a 1953 full length Schiaparelli dress in dark green silk, which I had specially made. I wore it during the pro-choice campaign and it is really fabulous, fits like a dream.

“I might wear a headpiece like a Christmas crown with it. I rarely wear heels, so it will be sparkly flats like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, with jewellery that I will make to match. And I will probably go with a cape, which is quite dramatic, to dinner in a friend’s posh mansion, a wooden fairy house in the woods. I tend to make things for special events, and once I decide on a theme, I create around that with a crown, jewellery and vintage gloves. My great aunt used to pay me in vintage gloves for cleaning her house. My mission, however, is to make the world more colourful.”

Taryn De Vere has just launched an online shop www.taryndevere.com selling wearable art, one-off headpieces and handmade and upcycled jewellery.

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