Christmas and New Year cometh, which means holiday parties are on the horizon. It may seem selfish to shop for yourself while your Christmas list is a mile long, but if you are staring into your closet and wondering what to wear, best to grab something now while you still have time -- especially if you think you might need some alterations.
We have a few ideas for guys and girls on what to wear this holiday season, and we've included some ideas for shopping in your own closet in case most of your budget has already been blown on Christmas gifts. (God bless you if you're done shopping. Some of us haven't even started...)
Since it is a fun time of year to add some extra sparkle, have fun with it; it's totally acceptable to be over-the-top. Your biggest competition is the Christmas tree, so unless you show up in lights, you'll only be the second-most ostentatiously dressed.
If you are shopping your closet, you most likely have a little black dress and it's probably already your go-to party frock. Go with it! Dress it way, way up with the sparkliest shoes you've got, but keep it simple in the jewelry department if you do -- a single, statement necklace or pair of earrings plus a bracelet. Never wear more ornaments than the Christmas tree, darling. If you choose a more basic pair of shoes -- black strappies, or a basic pump -- then go for the 1-2-3 earring/necklace/bracelet punch. When someone looks at you, you have to give their eye someplace to rest.
If the LBD is too fancy but you still want to dress up, the pencil skirt is a nice option. Pair the skirt with a super-high heel and a sexy top -- think bare arms, embellishments, satin/silk, etc. -- and a clutch and you are party-ready.
If you are in the market...for a dress
Frankly, dresses are the easiest way to get gussied up; one piece and you're done, other than shoes and accessories. Separates are great, but dresses should be making a comeback. Here are three pretty options for the holidays:
• Shabby Apple "Falling Star" Dress ($98): The black lace overlay isn't "too lacy"--no one will mistake you for a doily. It's short and sassy, without being too revealing. It's a little black dress, but hardly "basic." A terrific canvas for accessorizing. • BR Monogram Sequin Top Sheath ($165): Pricey, but so pretty. And it's not so "sequine-y" (THAT'S A WORD NOW) that you can't wear it out for date night the rest of the year. • J. Crew Dotted Cummerbund Dress ($225): The clever cummerbund creates a nice shape, and the polka dots are retro and feminine without making you look like an extra from Mad Men.
Frankly, guys, we resent you because dressing up for parties and such is quite a bit simpler. Fancy party = your suit; less fancy party = pants + shirt and jacket OR tie. Chances are you already own the important basics; if not, a suit is not a bad thing to ask Santa for this Christmas.
How can you make your style stand out in a crowd? First, don't stick with all-solids -- mix it up with some prints! YOU CAN DO IT. Be bold, and pair stripes and checks, or paisley and plaid. You don't have to look like a 1970s reboot; there is a happy medium between "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" and "going to work in your cubicle." It's called Tim Gunn.
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There are a few basic tricks to mixing prints. First, stick with the same color palette to keep things streamlined. Second, if you are hesitant about mixing things up, mix two similar prints: a boldly striped tie on top of a striped shirt. Third, if you're ready to mix two different patterns, make one bolder than the other and use the other as an accent: pair a checked shirt in pastels with a paisley pocket square in bolder hues in the same color family. And don't forget your ankles, dude -- stylish socks peeking out between your cuff and loafer are just about the easiest way to be whimsical without feeling self-conscious.
If you are in the market...for some funky extras
• Banana Republic Plaid Silk Bow Tie ($59.50): Release your inner hipster! This comes in a basic tone-on-tone gray, but go for the cranberry for true holiday flair. • J. Crew Silk Paisley Pocket Square ($49.50): In eggplant or gray, we picture this tucked into a suit jacket worn over a tone-on-tone striped or a pin-point polka dot shirt. • Perry Ellis Herringbone Velveteen Suit Vest ($79.50): A subtle texture is another great way to add the visual interest of the pattern; easy to layer with any other pattern you choose.