November 15, 2019
It’s an indelible memory: a corporate holiday party, back in the 80’s. Most of the women were wearing those silk jacquard dresses that were so easy to find back then. (mine was red, with a dropped waist, and a big bow on my left hip, at the dropped waist; the skirt was a bit flared below the dropped waist, so that it moved when I danced. And THE SHOULDER PADS were a thing of wonder…)
One women showed up in strapless sequins. Oh my. I felt bad for her…
Since then, dressing for holiday events has been stressful for me; I’ve always been frightened that I would make that kind of “career limiting move,” or otherwise just not fit in.
So let’s be sensible, and intelligent in this planning, eh? Since many of us are going to have holiday functions of some sort from now through Valentine’s Day, having a plan is the best way to approach this small, but nonetheless real, dilemma.
For me, a handful of dressy garments that all work together is where I start:
Four outfits – a good place to start for those of us who live in black!
One thing I’d like to beg all of you – if you MUST get sucked into an “ugly sweater” party, do NOT buy one new. Those kinds of things exist by the ton on Ebay and in thrift stores – don’t waste good money (and the related damage to the environment) buying something that you will wear once. (I’m a little bit offended by the whole “ugly” terminology; at some point in time, someone loved each of these sweaters… sigh…)
For those of us already in snow, a holiday brooch is a great addition to your winter coat (unless you’re wearing a $400 Arcteryx winter shell, in which case, do NOT poke holes in it!). These brooches can also turn a simple outfit into something festive; maybe wear a few…
I’ve often considered collecting snowflake brooches, and pinning them all to something like a throw cushion when I’m not wearing them. I could prop it up somewhere and use it as a holiday decoration…
It wouldn’t be wrong to treat yourself to a necklace with a decidedly party feel, would it?
Or earrings! Those lovely holly earrings are CLIP ON – wonder of dinosaur wonders. And I can vouch for the enduring quality of jewelry from The Met Store…
Dressy flat shoes aren’t reserved for the winter holidays, so if you have sufficient occasions to get good use out of a pair of pretty shoes, this is the time to get them!
If dressy shoes feel like a bridge too far, or if you can’t wear them to everything to which you’re invited, think seriously about some fun socks. Talbots absolutely OWNS the world of festive socks! This is a small but not invisible way to be in the spirit if you work in an office where too much holiday would be inappropriate. Fun but fitting in…
If you happen upon a lovely, good quality holiday scarf that speaks to you, GRAB IT. Because the scarves that I was able to find – while admittedly fun and festive – aren’t heritage quality. No matter, if you’re only going to wear it a handful of times each year.
Maybe you already have the necklace or brooches, and the earrings that you always wear – is it time for a lovely, dressy cardigan that doesn’t specifically scream one particular holiday? (well yes, the red sweater is pretty specifically Christmasy…) Something like this will be as beautiful at Valentine’s Day as it will be at Thanksgiving dinner…
In a similar, but faintly dressier vein, a lovely jacket can be useful through the cool weather. An autumn wedding? Terribly early Easter this year? Someone having a special party in January? You’re ready…
In our current very casual world, a skirt of any sort will immediately make you look more dressed-up than most people. But a deliberately dressy skirt? Timeless, and always a statement. I don’t CARE if people say “oh look, Janice is wearing her black velvet skirt again…” WHAT is that to me? Seriously?
Look through your sweaters, and see if you’ve got something that’s the right color for your to dress up, or something in a fabric or texture that lends itself to party attire. Most of us are probably in a position to be able to upgrade one of our older sweaters, I suspect…
(Don’t feel like you have to be stuck with red or green if you’re celebrating Christmas – there will be more than enough of those colors in the rest of the world…)
Last but certainly not least, do you own a good dress? By good I don’t mean covered with sequins, or embroidered with holly leaves! I’m thinking of something that fits beautifully, and that is basic enough that you can add a brooch, a necklace, or a scarf and look beautiful. And YES, you can wear flat shoes with a dress – anybody that believes that you can’t doesn’t respect the hard work that your feet have done throughout your life.
It’s right to care about how you look – it’s normal and healthy. But there’s a BIG LINE between caring and becoming neurotically obsessed, especially if is the opinion of others that concerns you.
In fact, anybody that wants to critique your outfit should just go home and quit being such a wet blanket. You are beautiful, what you wear is perfect, and your smile should be enough to grant you admission to all but the most formal of black tie events. Let’s remember what’s important, shall we?
ALWAYS look for a discount code on the Lands’ End site – they have them almost all the time, and they’re usually very generous. Cashmere becomes almost affordable with enough markdowns!
At this juncture, I can only envision 1 event for which I’m going to have to dress up – Belovedest’s holiday party. And if we’ve scheduled our trip to Paris wisely, we’ll miss that! For Paris dinners, I’m going to pack something similar to the 4 garments at the top, and I’m going to be FABULOUS….