Q. I have a lot of parties coming up between now and the new year – and I’m hoping that I can buy just one fab frock to see me through the festive season. I’m petite and curvy, so it can be difficult to find dresses to suit my body-type. Any suggestions where I should start?

A. December is the party month for many of us. From office Christmas parties to client shindigs to a festive carol evening, there is always something going on, and our wardrobes can take a bit of a battering.

While they’re hardly the most regular of bedfellows, Christmas fashion can and should be all about elegance and flexibility. You want something that you can be comfortable in at work but that will also have you leading in the glamour stakes when evening comes.
With that in mind we’ve got the secrets to dressing for all occasions.

Dress for your shape
It’s essential you dress for your body shape. If you aren’t sure what shape you are, there are plenty of resources online to help you, and give advice on what style you should look for, and what you should steer well clear of.

Apple-shaped ladies should go for flowing silk or cotton dresses with small patterns while the pear-shaped among us should go for something that adds volume to the bust and shoulders. Hour-glass and straight-bodied women should both look to cinch in their waists.

While we’re talking pure practicalities, you should also dress according to the event. You can go all out for pure elegance at a formal event, but if you are going to be spending time outside, you need to prioritise staying warm.

One sure-fire way to look your best both in the office and in the evening is to get serious about how you accessorise. Whether you shop for plus size dresses online or at your local boutique, always be on the lookout for dresses that will support a range of accessories.

For the office, think about simple, understated jewellery, flat pumps and neutral nail varnish then glam yourself up with some characterful, kooky heels and an over-sized, opulent D&G-style necklace.

Evening dresses
OK, up to this point we’ve been all about mixing practicality and style, but there are occasions when you have to go all-out. If you are off to a ball or awards ceremony, it’s time to hang versatility and go for something completely, obscenely wonderful.

Evening wear for 2012/13 is all about elegance, which is great news. Ladylike, red-carpet elegance, baroque opulence, luxury fabrics and plenty of jewellery are all the height of fashion, giving you plenty of glam options.

And it’s not just the petite ones among us who can take advantage of this bumper crop of formalwear; there is a wonderful range of Bonmarché evening dresses out at the moment - and make sure you bring a gorgeous clutch bag with you!

See a gorgeous party-ready look below...

Bonmarche red dress €45

Statment jewellery can add a dash of glamour to your look, Vintage Tiger Statement Necklace €30 Accessorize

Opium Clutch in turquoise €55 Accessorise

Finish your look with a fabulous pair of heels - Spikes High Heel Platform Court Shoe in Red €49.99 at Pilot