The festive season has a habit of sneaking up on us as if from nowhere. It seems as if one moment you're making the most of the late summer sunshine, the next you're wondering whether it's socially acceptable to start humming Christmas carols, ITV2 have started their back-to-back screenings of Love Actually and you find yourself fielding more Christmas party invitations than you know what to do with. And what better excuse than a festive 'do' to invest in an appropriately Christmassy party dress?
Even if you’re a devoted minimalist who only dresses in ruthlessly curated neutrals for the other eleven months of the year, all bets are off in December. It's a time when it suddenly becomes both socially and sartorially acceptable to wear as much festive sparkle as you can manage (with a bit of extra tinsel thrown in for good measure). That’s not to say, though, that you have to forgo your signature style come December 1st: from high street favourites to the most covetable designer brands, this year’s yuletide dresses have something to suit all tastes and budgets.
This year, celestial prints feel like a fresh option for party season: think along the lines of cult-favourite London label Rixo’s maxi dresses patterned with moons and stars, delicate astrology-infused embellishment from affordable brands like H&M and Topshop, or desk-to-drinks tea dresses from Realisation Par. The ‘90s-inspired slip dress trend has managed to stick around into 2017 (because Cher from Clueless never goes out of style, and as ever, velvet and sequins are a festive failsafe – why not branch out from black or silver and try sapphire blue, Quality Street fuschia or rainbow stripes a la Ashish? It’s Christmas, after all…
Shop our edit of the best Christmas party dresses...
Velvet Sequin High Neck Dress, £59, Warehouse
At Christmas time, sequins are practically a neutral (that's what we'll be telling ourselves when we snap up this Warehouse number, anyway...)
Katina Metallic Ribbed Knit Dress, £390, Alice + Olivia
This metallic plissé wrap dress is a simple yet statement-making option for party season.
Heather Dress, £165, Ghost
Why not ditch the classic LBD for something a little more vibrant like this Ghost dress in La La Land yellow, as seen in Grazia's Fashion and Beauty Charts?
Valerie Dress, £295, Rixo
Celestial print is everywhere this season, and we're big fans of London brand Rixo's take on the pattern of the moment.
Chainmail Halter Neck Shift Dress, £69, Topshop
Squint a little and Topshop's chainmail number is a close relation of Paris Hilton's favourite dress, as re-worn recently by Kendall Jenner. They say fashion moves in circles...
One-Shoulder Metallic Gown, £2,690, Stella McCartney
This season, Stella McCartney has teamed up with Net-A-Porter for an exclusive capsule collection of party wear. The influence of Studio 54 is particularly evident in this dramatic one-shouldered gown.
Asymmetric Silk-Blend Satin Maxi Dress, £495, Paper London
For a grown-up approach to festive dressing, try this instantly striking dress from Paper London in sapphire blue, cut on the bias with fluted sleeves for a memorable silhouette.
Striped Sequinned Silk-Georgette Dress, £1620, Ashish
London Fashion Week's master of spectacle has dreamed up the ultimate Christmas party dress in sequinned rainbow stripes.
Pleat Side Tie-Neck Satin Mini Dress, £1,250, Fendi
Christmas party dressing needn't be a competitive sport. For an understated ladylike spin on '70s style, try Fendi's tie-necked mini dress in blush pink.
Sequin Embellished Tulle Midi Dress, £475, Ganni
Gianni might be masters of Scandi understatement, but that doesn't mean they can't do party wear: this embellished sequin slip dress is a case in point.
Star Embellished Dress, £59, H&M
Keep your eyes trained on the 'new in' section of H&M's website: this star-embellished dress is dropping later this month...
Nancy Embellished Galaxy Dress, £249, Whistles
Whistles' layered dress is perfect for those desk-to-drinks situations that are so common in the lead up to Christmas (and yes, it's in star print...)
Ruffle Lace Midi Dress, £795, Temperley London
Temperley London have put their own party-appropriate spin on Victoriana with this 'Prairie' dress, cut from guipure lace.
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