I’d like to pretend the presents are properly wrapped, the candles are burning and the carol singers are on the doorstep, but right now half the presents are being held hostage by the Royal Mail, the nut roast is like a weapon in its solidity and 20 Christmas cards have yet to be written. In addition to the festive organization, most of us also need to pack, because we will spend the weekend at relatives’ homes, offering Paxton & Whitfield cheeses on the doorstep instead of incense.
I have a friend whose family insists on a full black tie ceremony on Christmas Day, which feels like a special occasion, and another who has a “pajama after Christmas dinner” policy for the whole family. But most of us fall somewhere in between these two extremes, which raises the question of what to wear to various events around Christmas. Regardless of novelty sweaters and reindeer horns.
The end of Christmas carols
A solid coat is a must here, and preferably one that is at the smarter end of the scale. It’s usually quite chilly in churches, but Midnight Mass requires a certain degree of formality as a sign of respect (obviously), so save your more durable outerwear for walking around the neighborhood and opt for a structured coat instead. Note: the camel looks great with a festive red scarf. A nice knit is fine, but maybe add a shirt underneath so the collar adds a touch of appropriateness. Appropriate shoes or decent shoes are also preferable if the weather isn’t quite in the festive spirit.
Stylish and comfortable for Christmas
While my smartly dressed friends may emulate the sophistication of Fitzgerald’s evening out, smart clothes are difficult at Christmas – especially for men, due to the structure and verticality of smart blazers. I tried to host the day in a velvet tuxedo (disastrous when you shake your spuds in hot oil, merciless when your waist groans) and while I won’t opt for such an “evening” look again, a sense of occasion is needed.
This is where the elegant cardigan comes in; suitably luxurious with a shawl collar and waist belt, it gives a sense of presence without looking overly fussy. Think of it as a softer version of a blazer, worn with a chambray or plaid shirt (white is too office). While classic derbies or brogues are ideal, consider adult trainers as well – materials like suede or leather will make them look better than standard sportswear. unlike fur coats. Which brings us to….
Sartorial nirvana on Christmas night
Is there a blissier Christmas feeling than slipping into some really great pajamas after you’ve indulged and the day’s whirlwind is over? Onesies are infantile and novelty pajamas decorated with snowflakes and the like to be left to teenagers; men of a certain age know the quiet joy of a handsome pair of classic pajamas with discreet hems. Cotton is the obvious choice, but recently I’ve also discovered variations from the American brand Eberjey made from a fabric called Tencel, which is like liquid silk.
From there, your bathrobe needs attention. A standard old towel is fine, of course, but for a little flair, combed cotton is a feast for the senses. And if money isn’t an issue, the historic home of New & Lingwood simply makes the most beautiful bathrobes in the world; sipping something after a meal in one of their ornate silk robes is as close to tailoring nirvana as you can get.
Boxing Day walk to the pub
Of course, a smart coat is appropriate for these situations, but if your holiday break is particularly exposed to the elements, a proper country jacket is needed; the reliable version of Barbour or Belstaff is safe here. So are boots that can be wiped down a bit, and Fair Isle knit, which is pleasantly wintery and not as youthful as silly novelty. Accessories with a roaring fire in the pub, a glass of something warming and a dose of kindness for all men. Happy christmas.
From left to right: wool cardigan, 495 pounds, colhays.com; Fair Isle Sweater, £47.50, boden.co.uk
From left to right: wool and cashmere coat, £489, hugoboss.com; William Tencel Pajamas, £200, eberjey.com