With the honourable exception of those poor souls who have to step right out of their Twixmas cosies and into corsets and sequins on the Hollywood red-carpet circuit, in pursuit of award‑season glory, no one in their right mind has any interest in dressing up in January. The best that can be said about this month is that it too shall pass. Soon it will be February, which is still cold and dark, but at least has the grace to be short, and comes with pancakes and heart‑shaped chocolates.
However, it seems to me important not to give up completely in January. By which I mean I take a dim view of a look overreliant on comfy old trousers, Uggs and cardigan-coats. These are not clothes so much as nightwear modified for the purpose of – reluctantly – leaving the house. It is more obvious than you realise, as you shamble into the office clutching a takeout coffee the size of a hot-water bottle, that your spirit remains on the sofa.
With this in mind, I have hit upon a formula for January dressing that is every bit as comfortable and cosy, but looks sharper. More interesting to wear without being more challenging to wear, if you see what I mean. What you need is a floaty, loose skirt, ideally old-lady-nightgown length – this is a very fashionable hemline, actually – and then a chunky sweater.
There is nothing in the world as comforting to wear at this time of year than a fluffy, snuggly, hibernation-sized sweater. The trick here is to wear it with something surprising and slightly fashiony, so that it looks like a statement knit rather than a jumper of the jeans-and-jumper variety. So switch up the bottom half and find some kind of floaty skirt: pleated, or just long and loose; bright or sparkly is good if you are so inclined.
There is no need to do anything ambitious; like tuck your top half in, or add fussy layers. Just put a nice skirt on, and then a big jumper over the top. Boots are good here, if for no other reason than they save a fight with a tangled tights drawer. If you still have a pair of mid-heeled knee-high boots knocking about from the days when we used to wear them over jeans, perfect. Instantly, you have an outfit that acknowledges the realities of January, without being defeated by them. This is a mission statement, as much as a fashion one.
Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management.