Hangovers, awkward office Christmas parties, panic high street outfit splurges. It’s the season of joy, albeit in smaller groups with lateral flow tests and the dagger of Omicron looming menacingly.
But even if your party is only for five, you are still going to dazzle and if you follow our advice you can be kind to the environment too. The problem with last-minute festive fashion purchases is that sequins and glittery fabrics are made of plastic, which means that spangly dress you bought and wore a few times before chucking it will take thousands of years to decompose in landfill. Not festive. So this year, rather than buying more flammable one-wear wonders, why not borrow a hot-ticket designer item for the night? Or invest in a one-of-a-kind piece you’ll have forever? Remember folks, fashion’s not just for Christmas.
Sleigh in a vintage find
If the idea of turning up to a party wearing the same jacket as someone else is your idea of jingle hell then vintage shopping is your festive friend. Online platforms like Vestiaire Collective, Depop and Cudoni are choc-full of party pieces, but for those that prefer an IRL shopping experience, London boasts many a magical pre-loved emporium. Nordic Poetry in Bethnal Green stocks a lovely selection of vintage D&G metallic smoking jackets and Missoni and Versace ties for guys, while Portobello’s One Of A Kind is a Pandora’s box of designer finds loved by celebrities like Kate Moss and Yungblud.
For OTT dress codes, Annie’s Ibiza store on Carnaby Street is a treasure trove of archive and one-of-a-kind pieces — think Pucci peignoirs, Seventies Christian Dior gowns with matching capes and maximalist Moschino minis. “Vintage is always so special because no one else has it,” says store owner Annie Doble.
Meanwhile, for any major fashion buffs, Kerry Taylor Auctions in Bermondsey is a world-leading auction house specialising in extraordinary fashion finds. They typically hold only five auctions a year, which you can attend in-person or bid on online, and their biannual Passion for Fashion sales (the next of which is set for December 7) are the place to get incredible couture, costume pieces and vintage bling. Among the party-ready pieces going under the hammer next week is a Forties Balenciaga Bolero, some fabulous vintage Chanel chunky chains and a super cool Vivienne Westwood corset from her AW91 Portrait collection that would be guaranteed to break the ice at your office party.
Make merry and mend
All too often, aftercare is a secret, restricted to a cobbler you know around the corner or stitching up holes at home. But a new wave of elevated services to bring your worn and torn to life has hit London, led by the 2017-founded start-up The Restory. The process is simple: book a collection and their team of artisans will assess your pieces and return with the treatments available.
“We’ve really focused on keeping our services desirable, looking at the design, original materials and the quality of product to extend their lifespans,” says co-founder Emily Rea. “Everyone has stuff in their wardrobe that they have not worn, or not got round to doing things with. Before shopping, go into your wardrobe and see everything you own.”
The trend is catching on. If you’re after a quick fix this year, The Seam, another new company specialising in alterations and repairs, is launching a Marylebone pop-up from December 10-12. “We’re excited to kick off a festive holiday season that’s all about finding joy in what we already own and sharing with one another,” says chief executive Layla Sargent. Don’t be a waster.
Join the race to rent
If you’re gearing up for a month of jam-packed festive fun, stand out sustainably by renting. There is a fast-growing stronghold of reliable companies for you to browse online and shop in store. Get feathery with Hurr’s array of 16Arlington clothes, or head to Rotaro for their disco-ball, metallic Anouki suits and swathes of silky Rixo.
“If you haven’t tried renting before, the festive season is the best time to start. Christmas is when we tend to go all-out with a statement, wear-once outfit,” says Eshita Kabra-Davies, founder of renting app By Rotation. There you will find the rhinestone re-edition Prada bags for £25, Vampire’s Wife gowns from £20, or Karl Lagerfeld’s Boy Chanel bags for £40. “Wallet-friendly, waste-free and planet-positive, the app allows you to rent designer fashion at a fraction of the price,” says Kabra-Davies. What’s not to love?
And men, there are growing options for you too. While Moss Bros have been lending suits for years, Selfridges’s rental site is forging a way into the fashionable with their mecca of Fendi suits, Ferragamo belts and Commes des Garçons shirts at your disposal. After a year off the Christmas circuit in 2020, there’s no excuse not to step out in sophisticated style this season.
Here is our pick of the best you can rent:
L-R: Prada bag, from £25; Chanel bag, from £40, De La Vali dress, from £20; The Vampire’s Wife dress, from £24; Saint Laurent platforms, from £35; Isabel Marant earrings, from £12. All available on the By Rotation app
L-R: Rotate dress, from £48.57, selfridgesrental.com; 16Arlington shirt, from £51.47, selfridgesrental.com; Comme des Garçons men’s shirt, from £33.73 , selfridgesrental.com; Fendi men’s blazer, from £106, selfridgesrental.com; Salvatore Ferragamo men’s belt, from £36.20, selfridgesrental.com