What's your approach when an invitation to some Christmas or New Year 'do' drops onto the mat (or more likely nowadays drops into your email inbox)? Do you immediately think of your perennial standby 'evening' outfit that you tend to drag out of the back of the wardrobe for just such occasions, on the basis that 'no-one cares what I look like, so why bother with anything new?' I realise that some of you may not want to spend money on a new outfit at this expensive time of year, but if you would like to treat yourself to something a bit special then what are the options in the shops right now?  I am a great believer in creating a strong personal style rather than worrying about what is currently fashionable, however you may have noticed that there are two strong themes for party dressing this year - sparkles or velvet. Actually sparkly sequinned tops, skirts and dresses have been around for a while, so velvet is definitely the newer trend. It seems to me that there are challenges with both of these looks when you are older. Piling on the shiny glitz can quite quickly look more 'Christmas Tree' than 'Christmas Glamour' and the trouble with velvet is that you can come over a bit 'Dowager Duchess in Downton Abbey' if you're not careful!

So, on your behalf I have been looking at some of the options which are out there and which you might like to explore. I bought this dress (see left) back in October for an award's ceremony which was a black tie do. It's called the Emilia dress (£129) and is from Hobbs. They only have it in black now, but I really love the way that it works on my pear-shaped body to accentuate my waist and also the fact that it comes below the knee and has long sleeves. It's in a slightly stretchy velvet material and is very comfortable to wear. The great thing about velvet is that it doesn't crease - I sat all evening at the awards ceremony (unfortunately we didn't win!) and the dress still looked perfect when I got home. I bought the necklace and earrings in Brown Thomas in Dublin (sorry no idea of the brand) but there are many similar available and wearing diamante jewellery is a great way to add a touch of fabulousness, especially if you are wearing black.

If you are apple shaped and prefer to wear something a bit more forgiving round the middle, then a Sahara 'bubble' dress might be a good solution. The bubble dress comes in two velvet options. The velvet jersey option at £159 is available in mulberry, black and flint colourways. The second option, a very soft and luxurious silk velvet, comes in either sage or mulberry and is priced at £235. Our brand ambassador Annette Badland mentioned Sahara as one of her 'go to' brands for clothes to suit her shape (she is 5'2" and UK size 20) and I can imagine Annette looking very stylish in this dress with the kind of wonderful accessories she favours - a beautiful scarf, necklace and earrings. Sahara is giving our blog readers a special offer just in time for Christmas (details at the end of the blog).

Another great brand for some interesting evening clothes is EAST. I decided to buy one of their 'evening' coats (see below) this year as it looks perfect over some slim black evening trousers and an evening top - either a camisole or a silky blouse. It has a very pretty embroidered design in bright pink, jade and purple, which is perfect for my cool toned skin. East also has a very neat black velvet evening jacket which would suit someone petite like Julie, one of our customer services team member (see below). Julie is 5'2" tall and the jacket she is wearing is a size 10. In the EAST collection there are also some very pretty velvet tops and devore blouses which you could dress up or down depending on the occasion. Caroline, our customer services manager, who is 5'8" tall is wearing a size 'small' in the Devore Chatsworth long shirt (see below). As you can see the shirt is designed to be a loose fit and can be worn on its own or over a camisole. Caroline is warm toned so the colours in this shirt work really well on her. EAST is also giving our readers a special offer, see details at the end of the blog.

And finally our friends at Cocorose London have some really beautifully soft and extremely comfortable velvet pumps in burgundy or navy with some sparkles on top (see below). If you have trouble finding comfortable shoes, these would be perfect with a pair of evening trousers for a party or to wear on Christmas day if you want something a little more glamorous than a plain pair of slip-ons. All Cocorose shoes fold away neatly into a little bag that is included with every pair, so you could pop these into your handbag for emergency relief if your feet start to kill you. I shall never forget the Christmas I turned 60. My family had taken me to a very smart restaurant to celebrate my Christmas birthday. I bought some really beautiful black suede high heeled shoes from LK Bennet and felt a million dollars. As the shoes became progressively more excruciatingly painful, I kicked them off under the table so that I could enjoy my meal in comfort. At the end of the evening, my feet had swollen so much I couldn't actually walk in the shoes at all, so my daughters practically had to carry me out of the restaurant. It looked as though I was paralytically drunk - ironic considering I am tee-total! Oh the mortification - if only I'd had some Cocorose shoes in my bag! The lovely people from Cocorose have also been kind enough to give you a special offer (see details at the end of the blog).

I am having a similar celebration in a restaurant with my immediate family this year for my 70th birthday on the 22nd of December. I will probably wear the velvet dress featured here and a more forgiving pair of shoes which I know will not render me 'legless' at the end of the evening. That painful occasion in 2007 feels like it happened yesterday -  those ten years have gone in a flash. And then I remember everything that has happened in the past ten years and realise just how much has changed in my life since then, including the birth of 5 grandchildren (the oldest of which, Patrick, is now 9), and of course the birth of Look Fabulous Forever. I wonder what the next ten years will bring!

Special Offers

Sahara: Use code LFF17FREE at checkout on to get free UK standard delivery (3-5 working days) on your first order at saharalondon.com. Valid until midnight Sunday 17th of December 2017. Maximum three uses per customer.

EAST: Use code TREAT10 at checkout to get 10% off full price items only on east.co.uk. Excludes charity collection Key To Freedom. Valid from the 3rd to the 10th of December.

Cocorose London: Use code LFF15 at checkout to get 15% off on cocoroselondon.com. Valid until 31st of December 2017.

How do you feel about velvet or sparkles for a new festive frock? Or do you have a perennial favourite 'posh frock' which stands you in good stead every year? Do share your thoughts - we know that everyone loves to read the comments you leave.

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