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Holiday Guide: Party Dresses

Release your inner Grandma Prudence this Christmas with midi dresses and maximum propriety. Chin up, shoulders back and chassé.

I'm fashionably late to the holiday dress shopping party - as always. I do have "back-ups" purchased many months ago - as always - but let's be honest, it's not like I ever have anywhere to actually go during the holidays; my family, save for my she-belongs-with-the-glitterati mother, have collectively and progressively solidified our homebody status. But traditions are not to be ignored.

I think "Christmas [dress]" was the term most uttered by my friends back in Nigeria. You daren't turn up to the school Christmas party in something you did not buy specifically for the event - or worse, something we'd seen you in before [gasp]. This was an event we'd still be talking about weeks if not months after it, and again when in anticipation of the End of Year party in July. That would be social suicide.

The shopping frenzy was as real as it got in December. But I used to do all my school party shopping months in advance over the summer breaks in Scotland. I'd even buy new underwear for it and store them away until the week before the party. That's when I'd dust off my booty, try it on and admire myself in the mirror to get comfortable in whatever look I'd concocted, walking down my imaginary runway and anticipating the ooh's and ahh's I never quite got - not as much as I'd imagined, anyway.

Our family affairs were just as fancy, even with the increased level of intimacy. It would be a day of lounging after church, surrounded by torn wrapping paper, tossed Christmas cards (we're not a particularly sentimental bunch) and our newly-acquired presents, followed by a fancy lunch with a few friends of the family and a trip to the members' party at the Polo Club where we'd visit the food and games stalls they'd set up, trot around the field on horses, listen to live music and stay until late to stuff our faces with suya* for dinner. With food-baby allowances and appropriate footwear, our outfits were cleverly constructed but just as glamorous. If you are a typical Nigerian or you know happen to know one, then you know that stereotype about us being quintessentially celebratory** creatures is as true as the sky is blue.

While Christmas 'dos at Sixth Form and now university have been significantly less extravagant and thus less stimulating (see: not at all), I refuse to abandon my special "Christmas dress" shopping habits. Although thanks to online shopping, I can now do so from the comfort of my home, sometimes without even breaking the bank. Never underestimate the power of the process of shopping. It's even more therapeutic than buying, I think, because you leave - or close the page - feeling rather proud of yourself for the willpower that, OK, should really be commonplace but, given our insatiable advertising-driven world, is pretty rare for valid reasons. So go us!

Then again, sometimes you really do just have to have it. Here are my last-minute party dress picks for just about every budget from my favourite high street stores to tempt you.



Dress 1: ASOS Midi Skater Dress with T-shirt Shell Top
Dress 2: ASOS Wiggle Dress in Crepe with Pockets
Dress 3: ASOS Midi Dress In Knit With Double Layer
Dress 4: Self Portrait White Reflections Midi Dress In Textured Jacquard With Geometric Embellished Bodice
Dress 5: Chi Chi London Premium Oversize Mono Floral Midi Dress With Bardot Neck
Dress 6: Chi Chi London Premium Metallic Lace Prom Dress in Longer Length
Dress 7: Chi Chi London Premium Metallic Lace Midi Prom Dress with Bardot Neck
Dress 8: Zara Dress with Puffed Sleeves
Dress 9: Zara Studio Slip Dress
Dress 10: Zara Checked Shift Dress
Dress 11: Zara Long Ribbed Dress
Dress 12: Mango Printed Chiffon Dress
Dress 13: Mango Satin Gown
Dress 14: Mango Ruffle Long Dress
Dress 15: French Connection Wild Ashes Dress
Dress 16: French Connection Croc Flock Textured Dress
Dress 17: Warehouse High Neck Slinky Dress
Dress 18: Warehouse Jet beaded Midi Dress
Dress 19: Warehouse Cutaway Shoulder Dress
Dress 20: Missguided Malou 50'S Style Circle Midi Skirt Dress

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*They have the best suya in town, no joke.

**Just to be clear, in this context, I do mean "celebratory" as in celebrating something in particular, therefore partying with a purpose. Speaking as one who does not drink or frequent nightclubs (ever), I advise you never to make assumptions about people, Nigerian or otherwise, who don't either. Personally, while I don't advertise this, I will gladly be the Cara Delevingne to anyone's Rihanna as long as we're there to do something that's not just "drinking enough" to have a good time. A "last day of exams, wooo!" will do - but you gotta give me something to woo about, babes.

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