Friday, November 24, 2017

What IS Dressing Up? Taking a Warm Common Wardrobe into the Winter Holidays

Of course I've been thinking a lot about what it means to say that you're "dressed up." In the absence of showing more skin than usual, I think I've learned that there are four ways to go about this process:

  1. Anything metallic or sparkly - if you can find a garment in one of your colors that's been given some sequins, some beads, or metallic thread, the dressiness quotient is automatically raised.
  2. Ruffles, bows, or other trim that you would not normally wear. Swapping out an ivory cotton shirt for an ivory silk shirt with a bow at the neck can make a world of difference, while filling exactly the same role in your wardrobe.
  3. Swapping for a fabric with more texture or shine. Satin, velvet, lace, or brocade are all instantly dressy, even if you're talking about velvet jeans!
  4. And specifically for the winter holidays, certain patterns, like Fair Isle sweaters, are always seen as being festive. A sweater with reindeer, no matter how stylized, screams Christmas. Snowflakes, although hanging around the city until April, are a tired sweater or jewelry idea by January 2nd...

With these very "subject to change" guidelines, let's look at A Common Wardrobe in colors that aren't usually associated with winter holidays, and see what's possible!

A Common Wardrobe in caramel beige and ivory
ribbed tee – Uniqlo; ivory tee – Lands’ End; shirt – Lands’ End; pecan sweater – Lands’ End; Henley – Patagonia; ivory long-sleeved tee – Lands’ End; corduroy shirt – L.L.Bean; cashmere cardigan – L.L.Bean; striped tee – Banana Republic; khakis – L.L.Bean; cords – L.L.Bean; skirt – L.L.Bean

Winter white is relatively common this time of year, but finding anything festive in brown is really tough! Look for the color "copper" or "bronze" to help hunt down the few offerings available.

Four Key Pieces in caramel beige and ivory
Fair Isle sweater – Uniqlo; ruffle-front blouse – Lands’ End; metallic cardigan – Care of You; lace skirt - Uniqlo

With these 4 pieces I've tired to represent the idea of the Fair Isle sweater, something with a low-key ruffle, a very relaxed gold-flecked sweater, and an easy to wear elastic-waist lace skirt... As you can see, these outfits come together pretty easily! A few accessories, and you'd be ready for most occasions this holiday season.

how a ruffle on a blouse dresses up anything

a brown Fair Isle sweater for the winter holidays

a metallic cardigan dresses up A Common Wardrobe for the winter holidays

Should I try this with other colors? Suggestions always welcome.


What IS Dressing Up? Taking a Warm Common Wardrobe into the Winter Holidays
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  1. Yes please Janice, could you do 'lightly cool'. My common wardrobe consists of winter white, silvery grey and pale blue tops with navy blue charcoal grey bottoms. Great festive posts by the way. Sharon, U.K.

    1. correction, "navy blue and charcoal grey..."

  2. Love it!! I'm so impressed at the way you can break down the styling thought process, Janice. So much more cost efficient than the random purchases that so often eat up my budget!! Thank you - Chris from Indy.

  3. Beautiful! Agree. I would also like to see lightly cool.

  4. Yes, please. I would like to see what can be done with an indigo/ cinnamon common wardrobe.

  5. Janice,
    The ruffled blouse is eye catching ! I’d love to see a brown jacket , blazer, pant or skirt in velvet , but as you have found out, they are more scarce than a black hair on an all white rabbit !

  6. I dressed up for Thanksgiving dinner in a Denver restaurant in black and white: a lacy top and a straight black skirt. My, was I cold! I kept the black open cardigan on and draped my husband;s coat over my knees.

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  8. Nothing says dress-up like a little more leg or décolletage. Doesn't have to be much, but just not the same cut you would wear by day. If easily chilled, you can add a big scarf or shawl, but leave the front open. Ditto shoes- which can be flats, but should have some wit.

  9. would wear the fair isle sweater with the lace skirt for maximal impact!
    and you could add a dusty, warm rose tone....