Fashion: Let’s do festive lunch

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As the pre-Christmas social whirl picks up, Stephanie Smith celebrates dressing up for the girls – and for yourself.

Much as I hate to mention this ... you know ... there is something so liberating about going to a social event at which only women friends are present. There, I’ve said it.

It’s not because of any difference in the topics of conversation. Most men of my acquaintance are more than happy to pass opinion on what Tess was wearing in Strictly last week and even happier to discuss the pros and cons of having two female anchor presenters on prime-time television, as well as chat about latest film and book releases, and most men really do try hard not to go on about football, so that’s all good.

But it’s certainly more interesting to dress for a women-only event. You can experiment and take risks by trying a new look, if you feel like it, knowing that your female friends will assess it in a non-judgemental way, with an interest and an understanding of what you might be trying to achieve.

Men, on the other hand, are quick to judge fashion experiments, dismissing them as unflattering faux-pas all too rapidly (back to Tess Daly again).

Take the jumpsuit or all-in-one. Many men hate them, don’t understand them at all, considering them to be shapeless and awkward and silly. “Why would you want to wear something that looks like a plumber’s overall, or a baby-gro,” they cry, adding, “Well, maybe Rihanna can get away with it, but I’m not sure it’s quite the thing for a wet night in Wetherby.”

Well-meaning it might be, but this is not the sort of talk that encourages fashion confidence.

Yet go to a women-only, pre-Christmas get-together lunch, and that same jumpsuit will be the source of much interest and envy.

Who knew a jumpsuit could look so elegant, so flattering, so different, and would work so well with a simple tuxedo jacket, or with a kimono jacket bought two seasons ago? Genius.

Women understand that, when it comes to fashion, you don’t have to have the face and figure of a supermodel to be able to “get away with it”. And who’s to judge whether an outfit is a success or not? The man who has worn the same style of jeans and shirt for the past 20 years, or your girl friends? No contest.

ALL SMILES NOW: Queen Elizabeth II sits next to Anna Wintour (right) and Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC) (left) as they view Richard Quinn's runway show before presenting him with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design as she visits London Fashion Week's BFC Show Space in central London. Yui Mok/PA Wire

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