16/12/2013 09:53 GMT | Updated 15/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Dressing for the Office Christmas Party, Take a Reality Check

Hands up anyone who has bought a full-on, sequins, lace or sheer party frock to wear for the so-called "party season".

No, thought not. Because, let's be totally honest here, despite all the magazine articles (and we have to confess here, websites, too including which, from early November onwards, suggest that we should all be climbing into plunge-neck bandage dresses, sequin-embellished shifts or wisps of floaty chiffon, very few women actually wear a full-blown party frock for the office "do".

Perhaps it's an age thing, but the reality is that an LBD is about the glammest most women (shall we be more specific: most women over 35) feel comfortable wearing for the Office Christmas Party. This is especially true if you work for a company with a recession-hit party budget, when a full-on frills-and-sequins party frock will feel hugely excessive to eat sausage rolls and drink warm Pinot Grigio while making polite small talk with Alan from Accounts or Hayley from HR.

And let's be even more honest, those that do go the full nine yards of tulle for the office "do" frequently spend the entire evening cowering in a corner and wishing they had dressed down. Unless, of course, they have had several too many Mojitos, in which case, they are really not fussed if their fuchsia chiffon one-shoulder dress with sequin hem is a touch OTT and the subject of lewd comments by Sam from Sales.

Even women who work for big law firms or hedge funds that hold their Christmas parties at Sketch or The Savoy are more likely to reach for an LBD (albeit a very pricey, designer LBD, and possibly even a LND - Little Navy Dress - this season) on the grounds of not wanting to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Out in the real world, most women are much more likely to do a quick transformation in the ladies loo rather than shlep in a full-size suitcase filled with frock, accessories, hair-dryer, GHDs, Velcro rollers and the entire contents of their make-up drawer, as would be necessary to achieve the makeovers required on Planet Magazine.

A sensible upgrade will probably involve retaining the black pencil skirt you have been wearing all day, but swapping the crisp white shirt or the simple top for one of the season's key looks - a blouse or top with a bit of embellishment. You then add your best party friends - a pair of towering heels - plus a clutch bag, some bold jewellery and a slick of lip-gloss, and you are ready to join the party.

Out in the real world, even those who opt for a dress are more likely to choose something low-key and unadorned rather than the sheer chiffon, sequins or lace suggested in the fantasy Christmas world of magazines. The chosen dress is probably something that can be worn all day beneath a tailored jacket, then, when 5.30 strikes, transformed instantly via the removal of jacket and the addition of heels, clutch and jewellery.

Of course, if you are going to a really formal dinner on Christmas Day then a cocktail dress is totally appropriate. Put on the glitz and garnish appropriately with Louboutins, clutch and jewels. The same goes for New Year's Eve, when dressing up is totally expected - perhaps even demanded.

When it is less appropriate, is for Christmas lunch which is, essentially, a jolly family meal when "smart casual" (which is a hideous term but we all know what it means) is far more appropriate than cocktail, especially if you need to get down on the floor and help little Jack build his Star Wars Lego...