Rules were made to be broken: The new festive fashion manifesto

— style and sequins are still in, but heels are kicked to the kerb
Rules were made to be broken: The new festive fashion manifesto

The boxy crew in viola, Lucy Nagle

It’s that time of year again — only this time, it’s a very different sort of year. The silly season may be in full swing but its traditional mirth and merrymaking have been swapped for six feet of sanitised and well-ventilated separation. Oh, and no touching, please. On the plus side, the recent bout of State-decreed downtime has meant most of the Christmas shopping is done (blessed be the broadband) but it also puts the kibosh on the usual shenanigans. No dancing, no prancing, no LED-lit calendar crammed with events; not even a dreaded office party. Bah humbug.

Or is it?

The new yuletide normal is a gift-wrapped opportunity to rewrite the Draconian dress codes of Christmases past. No more ugly sweaters, no more bunion-inducing stilettoes; no more dresses that double as gift wrapping. We’ve had enough restrictions, thank you. Sometimes, rules were made to be broken. This is one of them. Welcome to the new festive fashion manifesto.

Thou Shalt Be Zoom-Ready 

High neck sequin top, & Other Stories, €79
High neck sequin top, & Other Stories, €79

Remember when people used to meet in pubs for a few pints and a chat? Ah, the good old days. To be fair, that wine delivery subscription has paid dividends but ho- holy God, what you’d do to be caught in a human scrum to the sound of ‘last orders’.

Virtual drinks with friends by a Zoom fireside background feels a poor substitute.

Still; think of the bright side, like this sequin top which, previously, you wouldn’t be caught dead in at O’Connell’s of a Saturday lest you be laughed out of the place.

Consider this a gift-wrapped opportunity to unleash your shadow self, the side of you that had been put on the shelf (along with the creepy elf) since March’s tracksuit and slippers decree. It’s like having the best of both worlds: a dose of glamour without having to explain just where you think you are going dressed like that.

Thou Shalt Not Skip on Décor

Zoe & Morgan 'Protect Me' hoop earrings, Loulerie, €179
Zoe & Morgan 'Protect Me' hoop earrings, Loulerie, €179

We all want a vaccine for Christmas but, in the meantime, we may have to suffice with finding other means of protection. Sure, anti-bacterial products may be trending but this is the season for decking the halls; so, let’s stay on brand.

Looking for some décor that does double duty? Then get ready to don thee now thy serpent-shaped hoop earrings. Much like Wonder Woman’s bracelets of submission, said to absorb the impact of incoming attacks; watch these bad boys symbolically deflect energy vampires, people standing self too close and general curmudgeonly behaviour expected when emerging from self-isolation. You’re welcome.

Thou Shalt Give Good Face

Embellished face covering, Susannagh Grogan, €30
Embellished face covering, Susannagh Grogan, €30

If Lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we can get away with so much thanks to face coverings: talking to yourself, swearing under your breath, hiding your resting b*tch face. Parlay that to the most wonderful time of the year and the possibilities are endless: getting out of carol-singing; being forced to exchange glad tidings with auld acquaintances we long forgot; a barrier between our mouths and uncertain gluttony. With the new normal now simply normal; why not dress up this priceless piece of real estate and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas: peace and quiet.

Thou Shalt Give Heels the Boot

Flat leather ankle boots with chains, Zara, €89.95
Flat leather ankle boots with chains, Zara, €89.95

After weeks of staying within a five-kilometre radius, we finally get the chance to blitzen the shops before Home Alone 3 becomes a reality. This is no retail therapy session, folks. This is a mission: the successful completion of which requires a level of self-mastery rarely achieved in fancy footwear. Tactical manoeuvres like balancing arms of swag while operating the hand sanitizer; scoring a Secret Santa gift before your glasses fog up from insidious mask heat; all require resilience. You can choose to self-combust or swiftly get out of Dodge in a pair of lug-soled army boots: sturdy, grounded and clad in enough hardware to make people think again before cutting past you in the queue. Result.

Thou Shalt Speak Your Truth

'Gluten Free' sweatshirt, Large and in Charge, €45 Annmarie O'Connor Weekend Christmas fashion
'Gluten Free' sweatshirt, Large and in Charge, €45 Annmarie O'Connor Weekend Christmas fashion

It’s not easy being the odd one out, especially when the in-laws insist on hosting Christmas dinner. Every year you are forced to remind them that being coeliac is not a phase but a life sentence imposed by your immune system which attacks its tissues at the slightest grainy provocation. Sure, having a bit of stuffing may not kill you but nursing abdominal cramps in the foetal position doesn’t exactly spell yuletide cheer; which is why, sometimes, you just have to spell it out. Besides, it gives you licence to load up on mulled wine and cheese. Gluten-free and all that.

Thou Shalt Be One and Done

Wool wide-leg draped jumpsuit with utility pocket, COS, €125
Wool wide-leg draped jumpsuit with utility pocket, COS, €125

It’s been a year of pivoting, adapting and acquiring new skills; new skills like learning how to sew nativity costumes for your little elves’ bubble-friendly fete. Skills that eat up cognitive reserves, patience and time – the holy trifecta needed to survive a good day, let alone one during a pandemic. Let’s face it; your decision-making ability is already on the fritz (along with the rogue set of fairy lights on the tree), so why not make life easy? A jumpsuit is the ultimate no-nonsense approach to looking put together. One piece; zero effort. The only drummer boy you need to focus on is the one inside your head. Two aspirin and a strong cuppa ought to do it.

Thou Shalt Have a Silent Night In

The boxy crew in viola €235; rib pocket lounge pants in viola €175, Lucy Nagle
The boxy crew in viola €235; rib pocket lounge pants in viola €175, Lucy Nagle

After a marathon of turkey-basting, tree-trimming, toast-raising, panic-shopping and burning the Christmas candle at both ends; you are now ready for some well-earned duvet-diving and box set-bingeing.

Not so fast. According to the Festive Law of Diminishing Returns, the neighbours will call by for a socially-distanced outdoor tipple at the precise moment you take off your bra and call it a day. Pro-user tip: Swap those threadbare joggers for a merry and bright cashmere set. If the cost leaves you out in the cold, its thin thermogenic layers will keep you cosy until you can scarper inside to watch The Crown Season 4 in heavenly peace.


& Other Stories –


Large and in Charge –

Loulerie –

Lucy Nagle –

Susannagh Grogan –

Zara –

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