Happy Gothmas

Get your festive Morticia Addams on

Fashion Magazine

This article is taken from the December/January 2023 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Christmas, and fashion — like so many things, is fucked. You know, again. If the pandemic meant no one to manufacture clothes plus nowhere to sport them, we are now presented with no way of affording them should we desire food, warmth, habitation etc. How has Planet Fashion responded?

On the one hand, we are being offered safe, supposedly stylish perennials to reflect the ditching of trends in favour of enduring (thus eco-friendly) classics. Solid, but a tad meh.

Next to Essex-girl exhibitionism, goth feels cerebral, almost workaday in a Matrix-y sort of way

On the other, what trends there are are robustly, intransigently fugly. See the rash of cargo pants, turd browns, clogs, rugby shirts, cowboy boots, shoddily-cut flying jackets, puffers, woolly tights and — truly — fishing waders (thank you, Chanel and Balenciaga). Said novelties bring to mind that Nineties Hollywood rebuff when asked to schedule a meeting: “Never? How does never work for you?”

Accordingly, the most appealing mode was formerly one of the more edgy: viz gothdom. Doubtless, we have Prada A/W 2019 to thank, the presiding deity of which was one Wednesday Addams. Three years on, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and Versace have all gone goth, while even merry Marni eschewed knitted stripes for slashed satin.

One can see the appeal. Goth is the antithesis of Love Island platitudes, proffering fishnet, leather, lace, spikes, studs, corsets, harnesses and virulent Victoriana in place of crass contouring and stilettoes; blanketed pallor over scorched flesh. Next to Essex-girl exhibitionism, goth feels cerebral, almost workaday in a Matrix-y sort of way; InStyle even giving us “goth business-casual”, citing KKA Twiggs and Zoë Kravitz as its poster girls.

I had managed to resist glam goth stalwart the Vampire’s Wife since its launch in 2014, £1,800 being relatively easy to shrug off. However, this season, the brand’s Festival cotton-corduroy dress (above) can be had for £795 (liberty.com). This is still too much for me, obv. However, being four rather than nine times too much, I bought in. And, this, boys and girls, is where GCSE maths will get you.

It’s divine: heavy to hold, yet a structured cinch to wear, dressed without being dressy, gloriously emphatic, yet potentially low-key, both bash- and dog-walk ready. I adore it and will wear it forever. Do I crave the emerald? I do. However, the jet is sublimely Morticia. Aspiga’s Victoria 3/4 Sleeve Stretch Corduroy Dress (£250, aspiga.com) is the most successful, albeit less theatrical homage.

Otherwise, velvet is the way forward, so beautiful that I find I boast an infinite capacity for it. Warm, wintery, sumptuous without feeling stupid, unlike lace, which can look punishing on anyone over 17, velvet reflects rather beautifully on the face. When I open my wardrobe (LOLS, it doesn’t shut), I am confronted by — shall we say — “several” velvet jackets?

NRBY’s Odette Velvet Opera Coat has inspired religious feelings, in myself and onlookers

I’ve got an ancient, black, impeccably tailored, L’Agence version, sale-purchased when flush; an exquisitely supple, navy Italian shooting jacket acquired at a country show; an emerald velvet Zadig & Voltaire blazer; a deep fuchsia Boden take; a cropped, royal blue Lady Di incarnation from Victoria’s Retromania; a sleek, inky bolero, ditto; and a sturdy, black job from Cancer Research.

As this inventory demonstrates, it’s possible to get good (and, for that matter, bad) velvet at every price, and it lasts. What you want is something fluid, rather than unpleasantly stiff, yet not naffly crushed or — heaven forfend — velour. Zara’s high-waisted Velvet Flared Trousers (£49.99) are pleasing, if you’re prepared to play ball with fast-fashion polyester, which many will be, given their fetching long-leggedness. I’m less keen on the (awkwardly proportioned) matching blazer (£89.99).

Still, everyone and their dog is doing one so you won’t be short of options: Me&Em’s dashing Velvet Tux Crop (£325, meandem.com) is a particular cracker. Jigsaw’s Ashby Velvet Blazer (£240) and Mason Velvet Trouser suit is all shades Yves St Laurent: front-darted, satin-trimmed and staggeringly chic. Don it for a spot of festive action and you will appear both insouciant and The Winner.

Mango, Cos, Reiss, Cefinn and Wyse have numerous options. However, it is NRBY’s velvet that has won my Stygian heart. The Patti Velvet Shirt in cherry pink (£160) is the most flattering garment I possess. While NRBY’s Odette Velvet Opera Coat (£325, nrbyclothing.com) has inspired religious feelings, in myself and onlookers. I promised I would buy, try, then return it. But, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. It’s a good job I don’t have children, or they’d have been taken into care. So shut it, Tiny Tim, and a well-dressed Christmas every one.

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