Isabel Spearman is a brand and image consultant who previously worked as special adviser to Samantha Cameron at Downing Street. Each week , she offers a helping hand dissecting workwear dress codes and offering a modern take on power dressing.
To ask Isabel Spearman your workwear questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on instagram @isabelspearman
In this week's column, she offers her expert advice on how to tackle dressing for your Christmas work 'do...
Q. The office Christmas Party looms, and while I want to look like I’ve joined in the spirit of things, I don’t want to look like a bauble.
A.For work evening events; you want to wear something that reflects your role and that you feel appropriate in, but also show a more glamorous side of yourself. Everyone likes a good excuse to get dressed up but it’s all about balance - don’t overdo it with a neckline that leaves nothing to the imagination, or so much make-up that your colleagues don’t recognise you.
I always use the Christmas party season as a brilliant excuse to ‘invest’ in a new off-duty outfit. Last December, I bought a full length multi-coloured metallic stripes dress (sounds hideous, I promise it’s not) and it did for every single party. Yes, I did pack it away after New Year’s Eve but it’s been winking at me again, ready to come out and be worn. My point is that although this flurry of Christmas events is fairly short lived, if you buy the right outfit it can absolutely be recycled time and time again.
Elva jacket, £249, Hobbs; and trousers, £179, Hobbs
Personally, I can’t resist a bright red dress, something in sumptuous velvet or sparkly sequins - both of which are everywhere this time of year. The best I’ve seen is a satin version from Kitri - I love the pleating detail, covered arms and midi length. It’s elegant and sexy at the same time, which isn’t an easy achievement. Blondes and brunettes both suit red so be brave and try it (redheads, look for a shade that clashes, not matches).
The outfits which will take you from desk to party
If colour isn’t your thing, try to avoid a solid block of black, or at least soften it by choosing lace or velvet. A good example is Marks & Spencer’s dress with its pretty silver detail, sheer shoulders and hem. Self Portrait also have a fantastic and wearable selection of black lace evening wear; the jumpsuits are 100% office party appropriate. If you’re tempted by sequins but don’t want to wear top to toe, then find a sparkly skirt to pair with a simple top. This Miss Selfridge pencil skirt would look amazing with a lightweight black knit.
Self-Portrait floral lace mesh jumpsuit, £350, Matches Fashion; Sequin skirt, £65, Miss Selfridge; Asymmetric dress, £55, M&S
I always want to be the cool girl in the room wearing a trouser suit, but alas, they just don’t suit my shape. So please, someone buy Hobbs’ dark red velvet and wear it for me. It has Christmas party written all over it - and you can wear it as separates throughout the winter.