The thing about the dresses that come into the shops at this time of year is that, even if you hate everything that's fashionable in any given season, these dresses are always lovely. It's always the most gorgeous fabrics; velvet, satin, chiffon and tafeeta and despite the permanent prominence of black, those that come in colour are usually very nice deep colours. And they're always the nicest shapes, effectively gift-wrapping that most beautiful form in all of nature, the adult woman. Well, it is true.
I guess this is more about aesthetics (or possibly lechery) than some girly thing about dressing up; I have never been invited to anywhere where I might require a dress anything like these. If I were, I would find more fault with them. For one thing, I am an odd shape and don't usually fit into dresses. They are all incredibly skimpy given that it's winter, this is Britain and women tend to feel the cold more than. None of the dresses are fair trade or made from recycled materials and despite their expense they are the sort of thing which one wears very rarely, perhaps only once – and needs shoes and things to match, and don't get me started on the sheer hell that is shoe-shopping. If I were in the market, I'd probably make one myself. Out of an old sack.
In fact, I'm not sure quite who it is who wears the dresses that come into the shops about now. Most women never need a dress like this - I reckon that the sort of Christmas parties where women were posh frocks only happen in movies or perhaps for Office Parties if you worked in a really swanky office where they had mahogany desks and lead crystal mousemats or something. British high schools have started having “proms” in the last few years, but I think that happens in the summer.
My sister is the one person I know who owns these sorts of dresses, but then she goes to lots of weird weddings (you know, the sort that don't have a pirate theme) and does lots of concerts in orchestras where the chaps dress up like penguins – I don't think the audiences dress up so much. However, the one time I did go shopping for dresses with her was incredible; at one shop they gave me a cup of coffee while she tried something on. Free! Although at the end of that trip, we found the perfect item, full length, bright red and extremely flouncy, for £5 in a charity shop.
Anyway, since my futile and frankly slightly shameful window-shopping is usually conducted at home by myself, and since there is a very small chance that someone reading this might want to buy a dress this year, I thought I should share with you the top three dresses that I have seen this year.
3. This one I like because it is a great curvy shape (too many of these dresses require the wearer to be stick-thin). It is also almost black (it's described as graphite) and therefore fairly safe, also sparkly so one isn't a dark mass from the neck down. And the sparkly balance is just right; a lot of sequined dresses may be dazzling to behold, but make a person look like they put on their chainmail but forgot the suit of armour. It is from John Lewis and is called an Elise dress, like the car or whoever Beethoven wrote that tune für...
2. This is my second favourite mostly because it is a very nice colour and it is has a very pretty neckline (I'd be such a good fashion writer, all so very very nice). Also it is called a Boudicea Dress for reasons I can barely fathom, and I like the idea of a woman who was glamorous enough to wear such a dress turning up at her party in a chariot. It is from Monsoon.
1. This is my most favourite, because despite everything I said, I guess I imagine this might suit me if my fairy godmother showed up and it did, by some bizarre manufacturing error, fit. It is a lovely purply shade of red, it's got two textures in it and I don't know, it is sensible enough such that I probably could find some excuse to wear it between now and the End of Days. It is called a Matt & Shine dress and is from Marks & Spencers. It's also the cheapest out of these at £55. So I think practicality won the day despite myself.
Debenhams probably have the biggest range of dresses, including an entire section of red ones. Also, if you are a funny shape and did want a party dress, you can "design" one and get one made in the UK through somewhere like StyleShake which I've never used but looks like a great idea.
I don't think shops will mind me pinching pictures for the purposes of admiration, but I shall merely link to what is by far the ugliest party dress I have seen this winter. It is leather. It is gold. It is pretty much without shape. And it is £175. Any positives? Well, I guess could easily be wiped clean...