Despite having spent my childhood Christmases in glorious Hampstead, these days the festive period for me is about escaping to the country. I’m in a fortunate position of having parents based in various different rural idylls, so long walks, log fires, cosy pubs and frost-bitten fields have become the regular winter landscape.
I also love being away from my to-do lists, from the frenetic city pace and the noise. In the country, the romance of Christmas seems to come alive and we spend quality time together, ditching our devices and embracing the magic of this time of year.
The week before we leave is, of course, the exact opposite to all that. Generally hellish, inducing much stress and generally a few tears (from me anyway), I have one of my daughter’s birthdays and a wedding anniversary thrown in for good measure. The diary is crammed with festive events when what is actually required is a clean stretch of evenings for last-minute shopping, wrapping and packing. As a result of my groundhog-day panic in the lead-up to our departure, I generally have my Christmas wardrobe already mentally packed, so it’s not a last-minute ‘shove in a suitcase and pray’ job. It’s based on a theme and, with limited space in the car due to presents, I need to keep things concise. I love getting into the Christmas spirit with my wardrobe, but don’t want to give it a moment’s thought once we’ve arrived.
I always gravitate towards traditional tartan and red prints. J.Crew do a great combination, particularly if you’re cooking and need something easy to wash, while the clash of checked prints keeps things modern. Non-restrictive waistbands are an absolute must on Christmas Day; I also love having pockets and always wear a midi to feel ladylike. Wear with black mules (preferably with a bit of bling) and some fun earrings. If you really want a polished look, a velvet or pearl headband gives the ultimate flourish.
A gorgeous alternative if you’d rather wear a dress, trust Simone Rocha to be able to turn a hard print into something romantic. Or check out a new brand I’ve found called Grace Wears – she makes printed silk culottes with matching frilled bags.
I always end up taking two: one practical and one elegant. We normally do some marathon walks which require something supremely warm and waterproof, but will also be attending church and a couple of smart functions. I’ll wear my fur coat to travel in (I love arriving feeling a bit glam) and pack the puffa which reduces nicely in size. I have one from Baum und Pferdgarten in black but I’m obsessed with it in tweed. I also love the warm caramel tone of Stella McCartney’s faux fur option – super chic with the tartan, and less severe than predictable black.
I have a few in different colours, but a pillar-box red feels right. I’ll probably wear it on Christmas Eve with an oversized knit (either red or a neutral) and my hair in a bow – effortless, feminine and festive without being over the top. The mules can come out again for evening, but during the day I’ll contrast the look with heavy boots or even Hunters.
I generally only take my signature pieces and a pair of statement earrings. I might add an alphabet necklace by Parachee to my collection – it’s perfect for this time of year, as ornate pearls feel right at Christmas. Meanwhile, black bow earrings from J Crew make even the simplest jumper feel festive and special.
Black Leather Trousers
They go with just about everything, and are warm and luxe. I own quite a few pairs but tend to opt for a tight fit, so I can wear them inside my wellies. This works perfectly with an oversized knit and, for another evening look, a frilled white shirt. Frame’s Le High are the best, but there are plentiful amounts on the high street – Reiss does a super skinny pair.
I have an old vintage-style shirt from SEA that I live in. It’s trans-seasonal and perfect for evening or as an added layer under a knit, with the ruffle neck as an extra detail. Isabel Marant always delivers on basic investment pieces for the whole year round, which are gorgeous worn with black velvet or leather. A pair of earrings, leather jeans and you’re done for an easy evening look.
Asceno is my go-to brand for chic PJs. When I’m staying with relatives, I reach for my chicest set. Black and white is always a winner – fresh in the morning and striking at night, plus you can opt for the matching eye mask for a super-chic snooze. I love the fact that Zara Kids has a pair that makes for a perfect twinning moment.
I’ll always take a black hair bow with me. Jennifer Behr does the best velvet and pearl one. Another trick is just to buy a child’s oversized one – I have a few I steal from my girls. A black bow gives the simplest of looks and the plainest of knitwear a French, girlish twist.
Never pack too many. They are bulky and won’t get used. A cream cable knit is my go-to – great with tartan, rich with leather, gorgeous with a silk skirt and boots. My favourite is from Connolly but they are easy to find at various price points. Make sure you also check out the men’s options – they are often chunkier and more statement.
Boxing Day Loungewear
Boxing Day is about going nowhere. A walk is the most extreme thing we will get up to. Ditch the dresses and definitely wave goodbye to heels – this is the day when Wyse’s cashmere loungewear is required. I love their set with a belted long cardigan and gold-star detailing.
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