The past year has been so different to any other, yet strangely, I think Valentine's night will feel all too familiar. My husband and I never really venture out on the 14th, and while I love celebrating, a room full of strangers isn’t my idea of the perfect night. We've been together for so long now, my only memory of a dinner out to celebrate Valentine’s was when I was in my 20s, to the Kensington Roof Gardens (which at the time felt like the epitome of cool). An evening of set menus, love ballads and nearby awkward first dates meant it was neither intimate, nor special. From then on, we vowed to keep Valentine's personal or at the very most, go to the occasional party with loved ones.
In either instance, it's a great opportunity to dress up. Aren't we all desperate to take a break from the current monotony and live a more glamorous life – even just for one night? Whether it's a red lip, your favourite earrings or a pretty blouse – it's remarkable how mood enhancing even the tiniest bit of effort can be.
This year, my husband and I are ordering in from a one of our favourite local restaurants (Odette's in Primrose Hill), who provide a three-course meal for you to finish off at home. My daughters will help me create a pretty table setting (they love being creative, drawing place names and choosing napkins), light an abundance of candles and even if it's with ten minutes to spare, I'm determined to glam up.
It’s predictable, but I always gravitate towards red and pink on Valentine’s Day. Black might be seductive, but it’s so generic and too sombre for this current climate. I have a high-neck, sleek midi dress with thigh-high slits and an oriental feel from Cefinn that I wore last year to a drinks party. It hit that perfect balance between sexy and restrained. However, for home, I know I’ll feel like wearing something a little more whimsical and fun with a looser silhouette. Shrimps' flared taffeta dress is utterly dreamy and fulfils my renewed obsession with period costume dramas (thank you Bridgerton). For fear of looking over-styled, I’ll quickly pop my hair up into a neat bun and keep my slippers on. For a less innocent look, Raey's red silk camisole dress with an oversized cardigan will keep you cosy. Streamlined and minimalist, it also conveniently doubles up as a nightie. Of course, the dressed-up boudoir pyjama look is a perfectly on-trend approach. Think Holly Golightly in lockdown. Here, silk is best – my favourites are by Asceno and an eclectic brand I've just discovered called LbyLisa – they both have pretty pink options which look great with a red lip and statement jewellery. My favourite Valentine nuggets are from Timeless Pearly and Marlo Laz . Sometimes, an oversized white shirt, your favourite jeans and a fab pair of earrings or a chunky necklace is the simplest way to feel chic and effortless.
If warmth and comfort is key, then there are some gorgeous knitwear pieces out there, too. Alex Gore Brown's decorative jumper more than fits the bill with its hand sewn heart neck detailing. Mr Mittens always delivers on chunky knits, too, and has one in a beautifully vibrant red tone. If you want to be really literal, go for a heart buttoned cardigan from & Other Stories. Zara have also done a two-piece look in red. And if your goal is serious stay-at-home glamour, then Bottega's red sequin dress is it.
When it comes to gifts, I'm keen to support small businesses, so my perfect presents to give and receive would be flowers from my favourite florist Scarlet & Violet, some pink bath salts from Batch 001 and a print from the incredibly talented Susannah Garrod. I am a candle lover and adore the style and scent of Tom Dixon's Orientalist. For table decoration, it has to be The Swirl Candle in pink by Edition 94. Meanwhile, The Biscuit Boutique or heart shaped macaroons from local talent Belsize Cakes are the perfect sweet treat. For a more ostentatious gift, Rupert Sanderson's swoon worthy Aga pink satin flats are on my fantasy wish list this year.