How to wow from the waist up over the festive period

How to wow from the waist up over the festive period

December 4, 2022

From bold jewellery, the sparkly tops: How to wow from the waist up over the festive period

  • Forget your bottom half and focus all of your festive flair on the waist up
  • At most parties you will be seated when you go out so it is all anyone can see 
  • That’s where the fun is too – with the statement sleeves, jewellery and tops

It’s that time of year again. The invitations are rolling in, your phone diary is full of dots — and you’re in panic mode about what to wear.

But never fear, the solution is easier than you think.

Here’s a secret I’ve learned during long rounds of December dinner parties: forget your bottom half and focus all of your festive flair on the waist up, because once you’re seated it’s all anyone can see.

Dress, £81.75, oasisfashion. com; earrings, £18, karen; headband; £28, and necklace (in hand), £48, anthro

Top, £99, mintvelvet.; necklace, £45.99,; headband, £28,; rings (on right hand), from £29.90, and rings (on left hand), £149 and £148, all thomassabo. com; bag, £325,

Dress, £32.99, zara. com; necklace, £35,; earrings, £16,; cuff; £35, and bracelet, £25, anthropologie. com; ring, £15.99,; White Moss & Snowdrop cologne (in hand), £115,

The one lesson I’ve learned from life 

Presenter Ranvir Singh

Ranvir Singh, 45, is a presenter on Good Morning Britain. She was the face of BBC North West Tonight before leaving for ITV in 2012. She lives just outside of London with her ten-year-old son Tushaan

Ambition and kids are a tough mix

You need laser focus to get what you want from your career. It’s important to back yourself, which means taking risks when others might not. It was a counter-intuitive move for me to leave the BBC ten years ago when certain programmes were starting to move North. Everyone was saying ‘Wait until BBC Breakfast comes up here, it’ll be yours’.

But ITV wanted me on its breakfast show, and I’m an impatient person and wanted to get on. It meant leaving a nice cosy staff job for a freelance contract, which was daunting. But you have to believe in yourself because you haven’t got time to sit around.

When I started out, it always felt like ‘My name won’t fit, my face won’t fit, my look doesn’t fit’. It wasn’t said but it was implied. You could see it in the decisions that were being made. As I say to many of my non-white colleagues, when you’re a minority you can feel like you’re riding a unicycle, blindfolded and juggling fire, but you’ll still be overlooked. Things have changed a lot now but there is still work to be done.

I have always felt the need to prove to my parents that they made the right decision moving to the UK from India in the 1960s. I’ve wanted to give back after the back-breaking work my mum did in a factory, and my dad did, too, before he died.

I haven’t been able to take my son to school for the past ten years because I’ve been on breakfast TV and that’s a big thing for a mother to choose to do, and for a child to have to live with.

Once, I was exhausted, my alarm went off at three in the morning and I was getting into the shower half-asleep and thinking ‘What is making me do this?’. I thought, ‘You’re doing it for him,’ and then I said, ‘Just shut up Ranvir. You’re doing it for you’.

The ambition was there when I was 20 and it isn’t going away. But as a mother, I’ve had to merge the two parts of my life together, and that takes courage. Ambition and parenthood are a tough mix.

  • Ranvir Singh is an ambassador for the domestic abuse charity Refuge. Visit

Interview by Chloe Thomas


And fashion-wise, that’s where the fun is — the statement sleeves, the bold jewellery, the sparkly tops. The easiest way to get the look is to sling on a killer pair of black trousers.

They can be cigarette or wide leg, but they must fit you like a glove and easily be worn time and again — they’re the blank canvas to set off your top half. Quality is key. They must be comfy and they must flatter.

Top, £109, mintvelvet.; bag, earrings and bracelet, £135 each, katespade.; ring, £95, sorujewellery. com

I’m not saying dismiss the festive dress entirely. If dresses are your go-to, that’s fine — but choose wisely. I once bought the most amazing dress with an embroidered skirt and a solid black top. Sadly, it didn’t have a moment to shine. We were seated straight away and I looked like the most drab person at the dinner.

You’d definitely stand out at supper in Oasis’s teal number with fabulous puffed sleeves (far left) or Zara’s strapless black style with a huge sculptural ruffle (centre). Limited time to change after a full day at the office? Top-half dressing takes the pressure off. A black work suit, for example, is instantly transformed by switching out a shirt for a silk camisole and chandelier earrings. Kate Spade’s rainbow ones (second from left) are wonderful.

Dress, £18, Primark (in store only); earrings, £69, lkbennett. com; necklace (in hand), £55, boden.; ring, £85.99,; bracelet, £25, anthropologie. com

If you’re coming from a casual setting, jeans can quickly become party-ready with a statement piece, such as Mint Velvet’s maroon sequin top (second from left) complete with asymmetric neckline and a giant bow adorning the shoulder.

Don’t underestimate the power of great nails or a fresh blow-dry to elevate your look, either. Get a gel manicure now and it should take you through the office party season, while a blow-dry should last a week with a bit of help from some dry shampoo. Well, depending on how out of control your dinners become, that is.

Perhaps my most important piece of advice when dressing for a dinner party is to consider how things fit when you sit.

No matter what you choose to wear, please sit in a chair before you leave the house. 

Think You Know Everything About… The Mouse Trap 

The Mousetrap is celebrating 70 years in the West End, and it’s just been announced that it will finally make its Broadway debut next year. Agatha Christie’s hit play was written as:

A. A bedtime story for a niece

B. An activity for a long train journey

C. A Christmas board game

D. A birthday gift for a queen

2Which acting couple appeared in the original cast?

A. Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim

B. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

C. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

D. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh

3TRUE OR FALSE: The play has been turned into Russian and Bengali films, but not an English one.

4The Mousetrap was the first to place an advertisement at:

A. Buckingham Palace

B. Wimbledon

C. Lord’s Cricket Ground

D. The Royal Albert Hall

5Who was given the rights to the play?

A. Great Ormond Street Hospital

B. HM Treasury

C. Christie’s grandson

D. Christie’s dogs

6TRUE OR FALSE: Two prisoners once escaped during a performance of The Mousetrap at Wormwood Scrubs.

1) D. A birthday gift for a queen

It was originally a BBC radio play, written as an 80th birthday present for Queen Mary, wife of King George V, and broadcast in May 1947. It was first entitled Three Blind Mice and is the world’s longest-running show.

2) A. Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim (pictured right)

The husband and wife took a 10 per cent stake in the production in exchange for part of their salaries. Richard Attenborough said of it: ‘Foolishly I sold some of my share to open a short-lived Mayfair restaurant called the Little Elephant and, later still, disposed of the remainder in order to keep [the 1982 film] Gandhi afloat.’

3) True

According to the company set up by Agatha Christie: ‘The contract terms of the play state that no film version can be made until the West End show has been closed for at least six months, and since it is still running, no official film has been made.’

4) C. Lord’s Cricket Ground

In 1961, The Mousetrap made history by being the first advertiser of any kind at Lord’s when it was promoted on a cricket scorecard.

5) C. Christie’s grandson

Agatha Christie gave the rights to the play to her grandson Mathew Prichard as a ninth birthday present.

6) True

In 1959, the London cast put on a production for 300 prisoners at London’s Wormwood Scrubs. Fifteen minutes before the final curtain, warders discovered two inmates had escaped mid-performance.

By Etan Smallman


I cannot count the number of women I have sat next to at dinner parties who can barely breathe because their dresses are too tight or their shapewear is in danger of severing their circulation.

So, buy the bling, paint the nails and embrace the flare of festive sequins, velvet and feathers.

But don’t waste your time fretting over high heels or stressing over a skirt that may be a little too short. No one can see that when you’re sitting down. Be the sparkle at every dinner table by focusing your attention upwards and onwards!

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