Some of us don't grow out of the tradition of getting a new outfit for the holidays when we graduate from the pageant years. There's lots of parties, formal occasions, and get-togethers with family that might not appreciate skinnies and deconstructed sweaters. Or maybe it's the Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart effect – we just want to look like the perfect family, a fantasy vision of what we want our life to look like from the outside.
Needless to say, there's a lot riding on holiday fashion. There are three major functions most people run into throughout the festive season: a work party, a cocktail party, and a family dinner. Believe it or not, there are pieces in most people's closets to get them through these events without shopping. Now, I don't know exactly what's in every girl's closet, so these are generalizations. Use your own judgment and substitute as necessary. If you don't wear crisp white shirts, choose your version of a crisp white shirt, be it a silk blouse or cashmere sweater.
One key is to go classic rather than playing up the sequins and sparkles twinkling at us from party dresses in store windows. This is never more appropriate than at the work party. It's okay to wear items from your everyday office wardrobe, just put the effort into looking a little extra polished and perhaps add some accessories you wouldn't don for a big client meeting. Black pants or a pencil skirt with a crisp white button down is very Carolina Herrera and who's ever going to question her chicness? If you have some of those items with a fun detail — a satin tuxedo stripe on some pants or a shirt with an embroidered collar, even better. Now add some party shoes and jewelry. Your outfit is conservative enough to go a little nuts, if you want to wear your glittery platform pumps. This outfit is also perfect if your work party is just a luncheon at the office or somewhere you have to rush to from your desk — just a few "day-to-night" change-ups and you're ready.
Next up, cocktail party! I'm going to ask you a scary question: How many bridesmaid dresses do you have in your closet? Oh yes, I'm going there. You know how the bride always tells you, "You'll wear it again!" Well, let's prove her right. Salespeople always say, "Maybe you can shorten it." Maybe you can shorten it. Any of those tiny details you didn't like the first time around, i.e. the fit wasn't perfect, the hem was too long, there were sleeves, can be adjusted to your personal taste this time around, rather than the bride's. If you don't like sleeveless, add a cardigan you obviously couldn't wear down the aisle. Jazz it up with a fun belt. Wear any jewelry, shoes and hairstyle you want! Who knows, it may be freeing. Being forced to find inspiration from a piece you already own can really bring out your creativity.
Finally, you need something for the family dinner. This calls for the wardrobe workhorse — the little black dress. Easy to dress up or down depending on the level of formality, this outfit will probably come together the easiest for you since you're used to styling this piece for different occasions. One idea I like to jazz up for the holidays and keep more "daytime" than "cocktail hour", is colored tights. Depending on your style, this could call for a tiny bit of shopping — but only about $10 or less, probably somewhere you can buy groceries. You could go classic — red for Christmas gatherings, blue for Chanukah get-togethers, or something more fun like pink or purple. Add black shoes appropriate to the occasion — on the scale from party shoes to office pumps — or wear some gold or silver shoes if it won't look too dressy for your family.
These are some ideas to get you thinking about styling your own wardrobe in new and different ways, even for special occasions. Besides, maybe you'll get that new outfit you've been eyeing from Santa.