Sorry, but if you're over 50, sequins are a 'no'!

Sorry, but if you’re over 50, sequins are a ‘no’! How to dress like a grown up with SHANE WATSON

  • Sequins are high up the list of things that can make the over-50s look dowdy 
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Let’s just come straight out and admit it: it’s lovely to be asked to parties in the lead-up to Christmas, but not so much fun working out what to wear for them.

There are two considerations when it comes to dressing for a party at this time of year and they’re the opposite sides of the same coin: on the one hand you need to look extra festive and inject the sparkle factor; then again, you don’t want to look too Christmas baubly.

You also really do not want to buy something that might as well have ‘Two Weeks In December Only’ graffitied all over it. That’s a waste of money and you won’t feel good in it.

For starters, I would say give sequins a swerve. Even though they’re a Christmas party classic, sequins are high up the list of things that can make the over-50s look dowdy in an ‘occasion dress’ way.

They’re also surprisingly hot to wear. If I had a pound for every time I’ve overheard someone in a sequin sheath dress muttering, ‘Why don’t they tell you how hot these things are?!’ I’d have roughly £20. The same is true of velour. Absolutely boiling; no idea when you’re meant to wear it.

Flair: Emma Weymouth looks stylish in burgundy velvet trousers and a matching jacket which belts at the waist 

Velvet: Olivia Palermo wears a lacy camisole underneath a dark green velvet jacket 

In any case, the modern way to wear metallics, sequins, any fabrics that sparkle in the light, is during the daytime, below the waist, with a soft sweater and boots — not so much with a heel, big earrings and a blow dry.

So, how can you get the necessary glimmer without going down the sparkly clothes route? The answer is sheen not shine. Clothes with a subtle gloss and gleam which deliver that extra party magic without resorting to Strictly spangles.

It also means you’ll be wearing them out in March.

Top of the list is velvet, starting with a jacket, the hardest-working of all the velvets, which you can wear with mismatched trousers or as part of a suit.

Either works so long as you pick a colour that’s not black. There are so many to choose from at the moment: Marks & Spencer has a couple of good one-button tailored jackets (£79,; Boden does them in navy or bottle green (£170, and my favourite — it has the best sharp shoulders — is Mango’s in Papal purple (£89.99, in store).

For glossy colour, you can’t beat NRBY. It has jackets in hot pink or gleaming peacock blue or a surprisingly fetching blue animal print (£260, nrby and there are palazzo-style trousers to go with it (£160).

If you’re expecting a hot, crowded room, a velvet jacket worn over a sleeveless lace-trimmed top (lace is on the sheen spectrum) works well. M&S does V-neck lace trim cami tops that fit the bill (£22.50) or & Other Stories does a lace-detail trim top (£65,

If you’re going for sheen not shine, every element of your outfit needs to have a certain gloss — plain jersey or cotton will deaden the effect.

Lady in red: Celine Dion pairs wide-leg satin trousers with a velvet blazer and matching heels 

Velvet trousers plus a satiny top is the other cool alternative (in both senses): M&S has a good satin shirt in dark magenta or bitter chocolate (£29.50), either of which would look good with navy or dark green. 

Bear in mind your blouse or top doesn’t have to be Christmas red or gold. In fact, I’d avoid red for the next few weeks and go for a colour that suits your eyes.


  • Base your look on velvet tailoring.
  • Try a velvet animal print.
  • Cinch a silk jumpsuit.
  • Get yourself a sleeveless layering top.

The other option is a fluid silky velvet dress, and in this case something very simple, in black, is the best answer, allowing you to dial up the glamour to nine with blingy earrings and ornate heels; or keep it at a drinks-in-the-office 6.5, with boots and a belt. 

M&S has a black V-neck tea dress with some light gathering at the waist that’s ripe for dressing up or down (£45), or even more party elegant is its notch-neck midi dress which has long, puffed sleeves and elasticated shirring at the waist (£89).

For something a little fancier, Cefinn has a selection in good, strong colours including a fluid velvet maxi dress (actually ankle grazing) in black or emerald green (£340,

Otherwise, a plain velvet jumpsuit has the same dial up a bit or a lot potential, particularly one with a zip you can lower and a belt to cinch in.

Again M&S comes up trumps with a good velvet jumpsuit with silk to give it extra gloss (£119). Just add black suede or silver sandals.

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