Written by Emma Mitchell


What not to do at a fancy do

Ever found yourself inadvertently showing an offensive photograph to an unamused celebrity at a party? Emma Mitchell has. Here, the crafter shares her posh do cock-ups and offers advice on how you – yes, you – can avoid similar embarrassments.

Illustration by Claire Jones.

Illustration by Claire Jones.

The vast majority of my evenings comprise putting the children to bed, texting a friend to ask her to the pub across the road, receiving a jaded text along the lines of: “Sorry, my children drain me of all joie de vivre. Already in my onesie,” then opting for pyjamas, a quilt and a bonnet buster (i.e. Cranford boxset). It’s a cosy choice and when accompanied by a vase of wine can be extremely cheering. But in recent months I’ve found myself invited to my first Fancy-ish Parties.

Initially, the prospect filled me with some dread. The dress code is rarely ‘jimjams’ for such events. I would be without the reassuring sight of Judi Dench in a lace day cap. The fear of setting foot in the World of Fancy made me want to permanently swaddle myself in a quilt. Sadly, the ‘5 ft 10ins’ textile sausage’ look is apparently not in this season. What to do? What to wear? Would I have to bring butties?

I went to the parties and I lived to tell the tale. I also made some monumental cock-ups so you don’t have to. Here is my guide to what not to do at posh parties:

The Clogs of Shame.

The Clogs of Shame.

• Do not dress like a Christmas tree that’s been decorated by a glitter-crazed five-year-old. Gold shoes AND shiny Pat Butcher-style earrings may not be the subtlest choice.

• Do not attempt the fancy flicky eyeliner technique you’ve just seen on YouTube. You may end up looking as though you’ve Pritt-stuck guinea pig poos to your eyes.

• Do not exclaim out loud that the microscopic Yorkshire puddings-with-beef-and-horseradish must have been made by the Sylvanian Families. Weeny canapé food is normal. Eat six to compensate.

• You may encounter a glitter ball bigger than your Honda Jazz. Do not scream.

• Don’t wear clogs.

• If the chairs are wearing frocks and/or leotards, with or without large ribbony bows, do not nervously comment to a passer-by that the furniture should get an Instagram account and start a fashion blog.

• Do wear clothes with pockets. You may get hungry. Use these to stash the tiny foods (see above).

The offending phone image.

The offending phone image.

• Don’t point at people off the telly.

• If a person off the telly smiles at you or engages you in conversation try not to become extremely flustered and/or run away.

• Do not, under any circumstances, become so squiffily overexcited at an image on your friend’s phone that you show it to someone standing next to you without looking to check who they are.

This tip is especially pertinent when that image is of the Virgin Mary manifesting in a vagina and the person to whom you have showed it is a famous author. It will never, ever end well.*

*It didn’t. OH GOD.


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Written by Emma Mitchell

I make things, mostly out of silver, sometimes out of wool. I’m never too far from a bottle of PVA glue.