I’d love to pretend the gifts are properly wrapped, the candles are lit and the singers are on the doorstep, but as things stand half the gifts are being held hostage by the Royal Mail, the roasted with walnuts looks like a weapon in its solidity and 20 Christmas cards remain to be written. And alongside planning the parties, most of us also have to pack our bags, as the weekend must be spent with relatives, offering Paxton & Whitfield cheeses at the door instead of incense.
I have a friend whose family insists on the full black tie ceremony on Christmas Day, which gives a real sense of the occasion, and another who has a “pajamas after Christmas lunch” policy for the whole family. But most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes, which begs the question of what to wear for different Christmas events. Despite fancy sweaters and reindeer antlers.
Recap of Christmas Eve carols
A sturdy coat is a must here, and preferably one that’s on the smarter end of the scale. Churches tend to be rather chilly, but midnight mass does require a degree of formality as a mark of respect (obviously), so keep the sturdiest outerwear for country walks and opt for a coat instead structure. Note: Camel looks great on a festive red scarf. A nice knit is fine, but maybe add a shirt underneath for the collar to give a touch of purpose. Good shoes are also best, or neat boots if the weather doesn’t quite get into the holiday spirit.
Elegantly cozy for Christmas Day
While my smartly-dressed friends might mimic the finesse of a Fitzgerald soiree, formal wear is tricky on Christmas Day – especially for men, due to the structure and straightness of smart jackets. I attempted to hold the day in a velvet tuxedo (disastrous when shaking potatoes in hot oil, unforgiving when the belt squeaks), and though I won’t be opting for such a look anymore” evening”, a sense of occasion is necessary.
This is where the chic cardigan comes in; a properly luxurious model with a shawl collar and a belted waist gives a sense of presence but does not look too difficult. Think of it as a softer version of a jacket, worn with a chambray or plaid shirt (white is too office). While classic derbies or brogues are the must-haves, also consider an adult trainer – materials like suede or leather will elevate it beyond standard sportswear – and if you’re particularly chic, perhaps a gentleman’s slipper of the clever Noel Coward variety as opposed to tufted sheepskin affairs. Which brings us to….
Christmas Eve Dress Nirvana
Is there a nicer feeling at Christmas than slipping into some really nice pajamas, after indulging yourself and the whirlwind of the day is behind you? Onesies are childish and fancy pajamas adorned with snowflakes and the like should be left to teenagers; men of a certain age know the quiet happiness of beautiful classic pajamas with discreet piping. Cotton is the obvious go-to, but I’ve also recently come across varieties from American brand Eberjey made in a fabric called Tencel that looks like liquid silk.
From there, your dressing gown needs attention. The standard old towel is fine, obviously, but for a bit of flair, brushed cotton is a sensory treat. And if money is no object, historic house New & Lingwood makes what are quite simply the finest dressing gowns on the planet; sipping on something post-prandial in one of their richly decorated silk robes is about as close to sartorial nirvana as it gets.
Boxing Day Pub Walk
Of course, the smart coat is suitable for these situations, but if your festive break is somewhere particularly open to the elements, a suitable field jacket is necessary; a reliable Barbour or Belstaff version is a failsafe here. Likewise, boots that can take a bit of scuffing and a Fair Isle knit that’s pleasantly wintry and not as juvenile as a silly novelty number. Accessorize with a roaring pub fire, a glass of something warming and a dose of goodwill to all men. Merry Christmas.
Left to right: wool cardigan, £495, colhays.com; Fair Isle jumper, £47.50, boden.fr
Left to right: Wool and cashmere coat, £489, hugoboss.com; William tencel pajamas, £200, eberjey.com