The party season is in full swing and chances are you’ll have a least one invitation to rock the night away before taking down the Christmas lights.
But with the latest fashion trends spanning from A(ztec print) to Z(ippers), looking ho-ho-hot under the mistletoe can be a nightmare for many.
Here, we sift through the wardrobes of four of Ireland’s most fashionable women for some festive inspiration.
Commerce student Erika Fox, 21, from Kerry is the founder of fashion blog Retro Flame (retroflame.blogspot.ie).
“Your 20s is the time to experiment with fashion and have fun finding your signature style. There’s no trend that I wouldn’t try.
“I’d describe my style a mixture of high street and vintage. I’m also a big fan of ‘upcycling’ — adding studs or jewels to things that are already in my wardrobe.
“At college, you’ll find me in shorts, boots and a jacket. On nights out, I love to wear a dress or skirt and killer heels.
My favourite vintage store is Retro Rose in Killarney. Online, I also shop on Minusey.com and Romwe.com.
“Of course, there have been some questionable purchases too. Most recently, I splashed out on a pair of blue velvet stilettos that look great, but are impossible to walk in.
“My ‘go-to’ party is a royal blue vintage number that cost €70 from Mon Amie in Killarney.
“The eye-catching colour, shape and embellishment make it the perfect party dress. Even though it was an impulse buy, it’s the sort of statement dress I’ll have for years.”
Cork native Elaine Crowley, 35, presents Midday on TV3.
“In my 20s, I was very-self conscious and always played it safe in black. Now in my 30s, I’m much more comfortable in my own skin — and pretty much wear whatever I like.
“When it comes to fashion, I go from one extreme to another — either dolled up to the nines on the red carpet or lounging around in jeans and a t-shirt.
“Right now, I’m loving the whole Mad Men vibe — tailored skirts and dresses — because it’s sexy without being too revealing. I also have a bit of thing for animal print and have to be careful not to look like Bette Lynch from Coronation Street.
“I get most of my clothes from Debenhams, Penneys and A|Wear. If I won the Lotto though, I would dress in head –to-toe Michael Kors.
“I got my trusty party dress in Camille Boutique in Malahide a few years ago. It cost €200, but was worth every cent as I’ve worn it to death.
“With its flattering shape, I feel a million dollars in this dress. Every time I wear it out, I get into all sorts of trouble.”
Celebrity beautician Lesley Barrett, 43, runs The Skin Clinic in Cork.
“Even though I’m in the business of keeping people looking young, I think there are definitely rules for dressing in your 40s.
“For me, anything too short or low is a no-no. For example, I always cover my knees when showing my arms and vice versa.
“My style icon would have to be my mum, who proves that you can look good at any age.
“These days, if I’m not in uniform, you’ll probably find me in a Barbour jacket and Hunter wellies walking my dogs.
“But for something more glamorous, my favourite shops are Lisboa Boutique, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork and Bluefig Boutique in Ballincollig, Co Cork.
“Supporting local businesses is what’s going to help us climb out of this recession.
“I found this dress by Irish designer Aideen Bodkin (€299) in minutes at Lisboa. After trying it on, I knew it was the one for me - it’s my favourite colour and covers all my worst bits.
“It’s definitely better than the bright blue Escada frock with huge shoulder pads that I wore in the 80s.”
Model and mum-of-two Helen Fox, 55, runs Moy Riding Centre in Summerhill, Co Meath.
“Even though I’m 5’ 10”, I’m rarely seen in flats and don’t go anywhere without my lipstick.
I think that’s the key to describing my style: understated elegance.
“As you get older, you realise that less is more. It’s still OK to show off your legs or cleavage — just not at the same time.
“My best buy ever was a beautiful tuxedo suit by Yves St Laurent. It cost me a small fortune, but I’ve had it for years and it still oozes class.
“I am sometimes teased by my 26-year-old daughter, Grace, for sticking to the same style and colour of clothing. After many years of trial and error, however, I know what suits me best: warm autumnal colours that compliment my hair and skin tone.
“My wardrobe is also full of LBDs, chunky knits, tweed jackets, jeans and Wolford tights that finish off any outfit.
“One of my favourite shops is Sorrento in Maynooth, Co Kildare. It’s where I got my favourite party dress – a black and chocolate Isabel de Pedro design (€220) — and neckpiece (€55).
“It was a bargain because it’s so versatile – I can wear it with boots and a chunky scarf during the day or dress it up with high heels and jewellery at night.
“My biggest fashion tip is never go shopping for a particular item.
“Instead, I like to go window shopping about once a week. If I see something I like, I buy it, — even if I don’t have anywhere to wear it yet. That way you’ll never have nothing to wear.”
Stylist Sharon Huggard, of Style 4 You, reveals how to find the perfect party dress and work this season’s hottest trends at any age.
¦ Do: Have fun — now is the time to experiment with fashion.
¦ Don’t: Blend in with the crowd — try to make the trend your own.
¦ Try: Leather pants, lace shorts, peplum skirt, full-on colour and print.
¦ Do: Embrace your changing body in a form-flattering dress.
¦ Don’t: Convince yourself ‘I could never wear that’.
¦ Try: Leather dress, lace blazer, peplum top, colour-blocking.
¦ Do: Become best friends with bracelet-length sleeves and black, opaque tights, which hide a multitude.
¦ Don’t: Necessarily spend a fortune — accessories are a great way to give your existing wardrobe some edge.
¦ Try: Leather pencil skirt, lace dress, peplum dress, colourful accessories.
¦ Do: Go for investment pieces, such as a wrap dress in a classic cut, and good-quality fabric.
¦ Don’t: Skirt the issue of age — hemlines just below the knee are most flattering.
¦ Try: Leather drape jacket, lace dress, fitted peplum jacket, burgundy and forest green.