“When wardrobe supervisor Patricia Field’s office calls to borrow something, believe me, you jump for that phone, it’s like winning the lottery.” A source on the Sex & The City movie set talking about the designers falling over themselves to secure product placement in the forthcoming film.
This being party season it’s time to limber up those facial expressions for the inevitable flash of a digital camera frenzy. Oh, how bored I am of watching groups of people put on their instant ‘camera face’ with no variety or imagination. To be fair, I guess it’s not something most people think about. But on the other hand, why spend hours agonising over what to wear and painstakingly applying Pat McGrath-standard concealer, highlighter, blusher, mascara, eyeliner, lip balm, lip gloss, ad infinitum, if you’re just going to wheel out your one and only gormless grin in every picture? No, this should be the season when you put some pizzazz into your pose.
My standard party-photo face is big on high camp hamminess – hand on waist, hip thrust out, eyebrows raised and mouth wide open in a big old comedy faux grin. Think Bonnie Langford in her stage school publicity photo and you’re pretty close. Of course, it gets a bit tricky holding this supposedly spontaneous pose for upwards of ten seconds while the photo-taker wrestles with the flash button, but the results are worth it. However, this life-and-soul-of-the-party pose only works if you know the photographer very well, or you’re in a group of close friends. If in a less gregarious setting, I propose the shy-but-friendly option consisting of hands in pockets, weight on one foot, head to one side and a half smile – no teeth. This says ‘I’m nice’ without being over-theatrical and you don’t feel too much of a twit if the picture needs to be reshot.
A good idea for a group photo when the group consists of a number of random characters is the jump-in-the-air pose. How can you not look like you’re having a ball when you’re a foot off the ground with your arms above your head thumbs-aloft? Caution: while this works well if you’re wearing a dress, it’s not great for loose untucked tops combined with paunchy midriffs. If attempting this one, make sure stomachs are sucked in. (I suck my tummy in for all photos but only recently realised that’s just me.)
It’s always worth aiming for one really nice smiley photo of yourself but it’s a hard one to get right. The best solution is to have a photo taken with your best friend. Hug each other tightly and laugh spontaneously at the same time. You’ll need someone who knows you both pretty well to get this one right. If it works, the result is a good candidate for the death photo. What do you mean ‘what’s a death photo?’ A death photo is that one picture of you where you look happy, gorgeous and healthy. It’s the photo you nominate for if you ever go missing and the local paper needs to put a picture of you on its front page. It’s the one where all your ex-boyfriends feel guilty and think, ‘aaaah, wasn’t she lovely’. Doesn’t everyone have a death photo? Or is that just me as well?
Being freelance is a funny old existence. On the one hand it’s lovely being able to get up at lazy-o’clock and check emails in my pyjamas and clogs (yes, clogs!), yet when it’s busy it’s hard not to be distracted by domestic stuff like doing the laundry and um, packaging up my ebay parcels. I must admit I do miss the routine of working in an office. What can I say, I just love ticking things off my list and getting things done, whereas the life of a freelancer involves endless meetings and appointments which are obviously still ‘work’ but don’t give the same sense of satisfaction as sending an email or finishing an article. More often than not, coming out of a meeting just means adding more things to my to-do list.
One thing I don’t miss about the old routine however is the office Christmas ‘do’. I’m strictly a low-maintenance girl and it’s bad enough having ‘what to wear’ dilemmas during the summer wedding season when it’s warm, let alone in the bitterness of December when all I want to do is bind myself in thermals and escape under a pile of duvets. I can’t wear skimpy dresses. Not only have I got the thinnest ankles this side of Victoria Beckham, but I need to have my arms and legs covered against draughts at all times. I can do skinny jeans and boots and a zhuzhy top at a push but even I know that’s not making much of an effort. Which is where the tuxedo comes in.
Never mind the LBD, this season is all about a little black tuxedo. And yes, I know that every magazine, newspaper and blog is extolling its virtues but it truly is a winning solution. The beauty of the tux is it can be as versatile as a LBD. No, hear me out. For starters, if you want the full package you can wear the jacket and the trousers and personally I would really push the boat out and add a dress shirt and bow tie. A red bow tie would be a wonderful nod to Alber Elbaz or even a red silk rectangle scarf tied in a floppy bow.
For a sexier slant, a sheer black lace or chiffon top of any description would look damn hot under a tux but you have to go the full Helmut Newton hog and add proper bitch heels and a fuck you attitude – no messing about. Too womanly? Then bypass the jacket and wear the trousers with a tromp l’oeil fitted jumper or bib-front top – there have been dozens of versions this season and they make a witty talking point. A nice pair of patent mannish oxfords would set this off, or a clean pair of high top Converse. Fucked up Cons are a no-no for an office party however cool you are.
On the other hand, you could forget the trousers and do the tuxedo jacket on its own with skinny jeans. This can go a number of ways. Dark jeans are always smarter, especially with heeled ankle boots – Christian Louboutin’s studded confections for Rodarte get my vote. Under the jacket I’d suggest an equally dressy top, perhaps a black silk or satin blouse teamed with a messy up-do and a matt red lip. Or if you want understated then a plain vest top in black or white would look classic-yet-rebellious in an early 90s way but make sure the top is a bit long and loose a la Ann Demeulemeester not tight and cropped a la Britney.
By the way, who says the jacket should be black? Against a pale complexion a gold or silver tux would be suitable festive. And finally, if you don’t feel dressed up without a dress then why not wear a tuxedo jacket over a cocktail dress? In fact, this season’s strapless eighties cocktail frock is simply pleading for a mannish jacket to be draped over it, just ask Alexa Chung.