Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Expanding Your Comfort Zone: Finding Festive Attire You Will Love

First things first: the amazingly nice people at Kathkath have extended to us a 40% discount on THEIR ENTIRE SITE! Use the code XMAS40, and be really grateful. They gave me ANOTHER scarf - the silver chain one -  and it was love at first site. These scarves are something special...

I mentioned a few days ago that I'm going to be moving slightly out of my comfort zone for my Thanksgiving attire...

It all started when my contacts at House of Fraser offered to send me something - they had a list of garments that were available (I'm guessing they were buyer samples?), and let me choose. The only item in my size that really interested me was this:

dress - Biba

Until now, I only rarely wore anything metallic, and never a dress like this. But because I am so comfortable in knit and sweater dresses, this wasn't a real "reach" for me... And it is a really cool dress! We're going out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, so I can wear this with opaque tights and low-heel dress shoes, and be both comfortable and dressy. Perfect solution!

That got me thinking about you, of course. Maybe, the answer to finding the perfect holiday outfit is as simple as looking in your closet. What's your favorite style, or signature garment? Is a version of that piece available in a "festive" fabric? It's just that easy - holiday-ready, but still in silhouettes or pieces that you know you love. No "costume" feeling, and no discomfort...

Let's start with my favorites, knit dresses. If you already have something like the grey dress hanging in your closet, there are LOTS of other options available in knit dresses, kicked up a few notches for evening wear.

When you're looking for this kind of garment, look for these keywords: sequined, beaded, embellished, ornamented, jacquard, velvet, metallic or brocade. 

Grey sweater dress – Acne Studios; gold & black dress – Biba
sequined dress – Brunello Cucinelli; lace sleeve dress – Coast

If you always wear button-front shirts, finding a shirt in a gorgeous dressy fabric is a very straightforward way to dress up; you can even wear your dressy shirt with the pants and skirts you already own! Add a pair of earrings, or a fancy shoe, and you're finished.

White shirt – J. Crew; blue shirt – Equipment; copper shirt –  
Emanuel Ungaro; white sequined shirt - Ashish

Jeans? Black velvet jeans are everywhere! But don't miss the chance to look at the jacquards, brocades, and satins that are available, too.

Blue jeans – L.L.Bean; black velvet jeans – J Brand; brocade jeans – 
 Ermanno Scervino; jacquard jeans – Diesel Black Gold

If there's one dressy garment that I think almost everyone should own, it's a cardigan. It can instantly change the dressy level of a simple tee shirt and pants, or anything else you wear with it.

Black cardigan – DKNY; gold waterfall cardigan – Joanna Hope; gold short 
cardigan – M Missoni; black beadedTed Baker

And if you're a blazer person, that is a wonderful option. I'm particularly taken with the J. Crew sequined tweed...

Navy blazer – L.L.Bean; brocade blazer - Raoul; brown velvet blazer – 
J. Crew; sequined tweed blazer – J. Crew

Tee shirts? Heck yes!

Perfect fit long-sleeve v-neck tee – J. Crew; gold tee – J. Crew 
(also available in silver and sky blue); cream tee – Oasis
metallic navy tee – J. Crew (also available in silver)

If you live in pants that aren't jeans, you have lots of choices for dressing up your daily look. And I have to point out how very easy it would be to make a pair of pants like this - there are lots of people giving sewing lessons these days; they would love to help you.

Perfect fit khaki pants – L.L.Bean; ivory sequined pants – J. Crew;
 flowered pants – J. Crew; mink brown satin pants – Coast

The idea of a dressy sweatshirt really appeals to the iconoclast in me - it's the perfect thing to wear when you have NO IDEA how dressy an event will be. If everybody's casual, you're wearing a sweatshirt. If everybody is really decked out - you're wearing sequins, beads, or some other dressy element. Plus the comfort level... sigh...

Grey sweatshirt – Lands’ End; black sweatshirt with pearls – SH Collection;
 grey sequined sleeve sweatshirtDKNY; ivory sequined sweatshirt –

If, like me, you live in black sweaters, a sweater with a touch of embellishment is easy to find, and changes everything.

Merino v-neck sweater – J. Crew; swallow studded sweater – McQ by 
Alexander McQueen; silver “hourglass” silhouette trimmed sweater –  
MICHAEL MichaelKors; crystal collar sweater - Magaschoni

And if you are most comfortable in tunics, you have tons of choices. Never forget that our friend Eileen Fisher makes DOZENS of tunics in luscious fabrics...

Tunic sweater – Tory Burch; ivory stretch silk tunicHelmut Lang
copper metallic tunic – Isa Arfen; navy embellished tunic – Tory Burch

If you're really at a loss for finding something amazing for the upcoming seasonal parties, don't forget to browse some of the deep discount sites like yoox, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off 5th, or the Outnet. You might find something of which you could only have dreamed, marked down to a price you can stand! Plus, they're a great source of ideas, and occasionally a good laugh...

Have you got holiday clothing sorted out? With my new dress, and my old sequined black sweater, I'm pretty certain that I'm covered (literally and figuratively) for anything my holiday season throws at me!



  1. From Margie in Toronto - great ideas Janice! There is nothing more wrong than feeling uncomfortable in a new outfit - you never really enjoy yourself if you are fussing about a fabric or fit or a look that just isn't you!

  2. Deciding what to wear is always my downfall. Even going out for a casual lunch with my girlfriends requires 30 minutes of indecision while standing in my closet staring mindlessly at my clothes. So you can imagine what happens when I have a dressy event!

    The concept of wearing my favorite styles in a more festive fabric is brilliant. No longer will I feel like a little girl (although of a certain age) playing dress-up in an uncomfortable outfit. My go-to fabric for an evening out is velvet and I regularly wear a velvet shell with an unstructured velvet cardigan - definitely comfortable.

    However that only works in winter so I'll have to look for a few pieces that will transcend the seasons - that short gold cardigan might work.
    Thanks for providing another way to look at creating an outfit.

    One trick that works for me is to keep a little notebook in my closet where I jot down my pairings - tops, pants, dress, jacket, shoes, bag, jewelry etc. If I were more industrious I could take a photo.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Janice - and all who tune into this blog.

    Mary - mcm

  3. Excellent suggestions! You sent me straight to my closet for my brocade pants and black cardigan. I'm planning to visit Ireland and Britain next year and will certainly visit The House of Fraser.

  4. So many festive ideas here! Thanks so much.

  5. Hit it out of the ball park!! This is brilliant, especially for people who like casual, sporty type clothes and look and feel very awkward in anything more tailored or fitted.

    Deb from Vancouver

  6. I bought a black sweater with embellishments. I'm covered! Bring on the holidays!

  7. Thank you! This post made it all click together for me. I've slowly come to the realization that I'm a uniform dresser. Beautiful examples.

  8. What a brilliant idea! One of my favorite festive garments ever was a pair of cream satin palazzo pants I actually made myself back in college. They looked very festive, but they felt like wearing PJs!

  9. Thank you for these brilliant ideas. I just got a pair of velveteen jeans in a greenish teal. I live in tee shirts, so I'll look for something colorful and festive to go with the new pants. And I can dress them up in pumps. Oh thanks so much! Janice Collins , Washington DC

  10. A great post, and very helpful to many. I usually pick a "fancy" skirt, made by me, with a cashmere pullover or a silk shirt. For the Millennium Eve back in 1999 I made a long gray taffeta skirt with pockets and wore it with a black pullover to host a dinner party.

  11. Terrific post, Janice! Thanks for the ideas.

  12. You lost your fashion challenged photographer friend with the patterned pants. Another topic for us to discuss at lunch. Great looking dress!

  13. Other good sources for holiday wear: off-price retailers like Marshall's, and consignment shops. I don't pay full price for items with such limited wear.

  14. The Biba dress you chose is simply divine. In fact...I just might faint over it.

  15. This is brilliant!! Thank you!

  16. Great post!! Such a simple philosophy..stick with what you love! Thanks for the great advice Janice! That dress you chose is very chic!