Party season is back with a bang and Susie Lau is ready...

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

There are a few obvious things new parents dream about. Continuous stretches of unbroken sleep smothered by hotel-pressed sheets. Convivial, uninterrupted meals featuring big platefuls of pasta and even bigger glasses of wine. Clean surfaces free of sodden wet wipes and bins that empty themselves automatically. I dream of tight dresses with zippers that go all the way up the back — an Alaïa maybe if we’re going to get fash about it. They’re the kind of silhouettes that don’t want to accommodate the lumps and bumps of a hefty nursing bra stuffed with milk-soaked pads. Or any garment with complicated straps and fastenings in textures that are not meant to be rubbed up against a baby’s cheek. Latex. Patent. Quality Streetesque metallic lamé. In said dream, these garms will be worn in places with long queues to the toilets, where you purposely eavesdrop on smidges of other people’s juicy gossip. The glasses in my hand won’t be sensible drinks that I clutch on to for over an hour, but shots that I’ll regret the moment I down them. I dream of bouts of crazed, sweaty dancing while yanking and adjusting aforementioned tricksy dress and then exiting whatever louche place it is into the cold brisk November air before trudging to Chinatown for a 3am noodle slurp.

Can you tell these are the thoughts of someone who hasn’t been out-out in a while? There may or may not be photographic evidence of me bumping around at Langan’s Brasserie for a Marc Jacobs party two days before I gave birth, but that doesn’t count because I was back by 1am. When I say out-OUT, I mean those unadulterated nights that aren’t work-related. Christmas party season can often be the opposite of real out-out nights when the workplace is involved. I don’t do well with treading between the tramlines of office politics chat. One of the reasons why I’ve been a lone freelance ranger for more than a decade.

Christmas parties also come weighted with aesthetic expectations that the retail industry drip feeds us earlier and earlier in the year. Are we going for napkin rings of fanned-out swans? Do all the wine glasses match? Is that novelty jumper striking the right comedic note? And the ultimate one, what’s the scheme, theme and messaging behind your tree (which warrants a whole separate column)?

It’s been more than two years since an end of year party season hasn’t had a handbrake on, and this year comes laced with a different kind of uncertainty. But as per previous years, we’ll still be hoping and gunning for real out-out fun.

They won’t be sensible drinks that I clutch on to for over an hour, but shots that I’ll regret the moment I down them

Even while I’ve been militant about pumping and building up a freezer stash of breast milk popsicles so that I can emerge into the wild, there’s no getting away from the stark fact that dressing and drinking freely is still a while away. The other night for a Dior dinner at Kensington Palace was the first test. I didn’t quite reach the dizzying, sleaze-filled nights of my dreams, given that I had a Medela pump in a bag (one of the cardinal rules of going out-out is that you need nothing except your phone and keys in a roomy coat pocket). And I wore sensible-height shoes (I can’t quite teeter yet) and a dress that should have been vaguely racy except it was dampened literally by a clunky black nursing bra.

By the end of November, I’ll work my way up to a sassy corset dress and find myself on some sticky dance floor with a few pump and dump toilet sessions worked in. The reality is likely not going to live up to the daydreams.