Fashion Fridays: Dressing For Holiday Parties, Part 1

Alright girls, it’s the MOST wonderful time of the year!

I love Christmas.  I love the reason for Christmas.  I love the smell of Christmas.  I love the hospitality of Christmas.

I even love the fashion of Christmas.  If it is done well.

So today is the first in a three part Christmas-themed Fashion Friday Series: Dressing For Holiday Parties.

1.      Holiday Party Situation 1: The casual party. 

This would work for your neighborhood, your school, your church, or your Saturday morning book club brunch.  Don’t miss the opportunity to festivize your wardrobe!  (Yes, that’s a word.  Festivize: To make festive.)

2.      Holiday Party Situation 2: The fancy party. 

My favorite!  I so should have been fashionizing in the 1950s!  (Yes, that’s a word too.  Stop judging my holiday dictionary!)  I seriously love dresses.  Never is there a better time wear fancy attire than Christmas/New Year’s.

3.      Holiday Party Situation 3: The office party. 

Now this party could fall more within the #1 camp or the #2 camp, or it could be a combination thereof or business attire altogether (bah-humbug!).

I think the casual party is the hardest, maybe it’s my sensibility or avoidance of items that actual depict Christmas items, so we’re tackling it first.  Particularly if you’re a mom, you’re going to have casual holiday parties with the kids or Christmas outings where festive attire is a must!

In the category of overtly holiday, I love this ensemble of a red cowl neck snowflake sweater with a skinny ivory trouser from Talbot’s.  While I won’t go for trees or Santa Claus, I love the nod to the old fashioned Christmas sweater that this outfit makes:

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Here’s a great way to inject color in an alternative way – with all the colored jeans out there, try selecting a cranberry red or a hunter green pair!  Add on some knee boots and a festive black and white sweater.   Macy’s offers them in red and green for less than $35 and, if you’re willing to splurge, the emerald colored jeans that Anthropologie offers are gorgeous.  While I’m partial to this particular sweater (look at those elbow patches!), for $40 there’s a fun black and white chevron sweater at ModCloth.

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The easiest solution for a casual holiday outing though is always a good pair of jeans, comfy solid t-shirt, great boots, and then add flare with the scarf and sweater.  Several of these outfits could be paired with trousers or cords as a solid alternative to jeans that can even dress it up a bit.

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I’m totally in love with the blatant Christmas pairing of red and green chevron in the infinity scarf in the first ensemble.  And I adore the red suede boots paired with Christmas plaid in the second ensemble.  Now I will say that a red flat tall boot is hard to come by, but in a pinch you could always pair the outfit with a bootie and DSW has a number of red suede booties for less than $50 just in time for the season.

Charming Charlie’s offers some really festive scarves all of which are under $20 and JC Penney offers some lovely holiday plaid scarves for similar price points.  And, drumroll please, the scarf pictured in the first ensemble is $4 through Amazon – WHAT!?!?  And if you’re in the market for a gorgeous cashmere cardigan for this particular ensemble, Nordstrom offers a beautiful, but pricey, one.

How do you festivize for holiday parties??

 

Insider Love

I was completely done.  Splitting headache.  Flippy stomach from the stress of the day.  Bone tired.  I came home feeling guilty that I didn’t have an ounce left to give.  Almost every other day, I rally and turn into the mommy interested in kids days and ready for robust dinner conversation.  But when I arrived to not one but two children having emotional meltdowns, it was all I could not to meltdown in front of them right there.

Have you ever just had one of those days where every ounce of strength was gone?

In swoops my husband.  At 6:45 I (essentially) announced I was going to bed.  Moments later there was harmony in the house.  I could hear him in the other room get the fireplace going and engage them in a rousing puzzle.

After play time, he had them packed off to brush teeth and put on pajamas.  I walked in and kissed him and thanked him profusely even though there weren’t the right words to express how he saved me.

I turned around and announced to the kids, “I sure love your daddy!”  The baby replied emphatically, “Well, we can seeeeeeee that!”

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Oh that’s what I want.  My heart did back flips.  I so want my kids to see what insider love looks like.  It’s not movie love with sweeping scores and jets that fly you off to parts unknown.  It’s a love that jumps in when the other person doesn’t have a reserve and saves the day.

When I received a big award this week, love looked like us cracking open a $10 bottle of champagne to toast the recognition while the kids jumped around eating ice cream sundaes.

It is not perfect love.  It is love that fights and has hurt feelings and missteps.  But it is love.  A crazy deep trusting confident love.  And I’m so incredibly thankful, inexpressible grateful, to have the opportunity to know it.

The Best Yes: My Imperfections, His Ability

 

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I’ve written about how one of the gender differences we see in leadership research is this idea that a mistake or failure somehow defines our personal value.  Women are tremendously resilient, but they can also be incredibly hard on themselves to the point of allowing fear of failure to paralyze them from progress.

In today’s study of The Best Yes, we explore Chapters 6 and 7, the latter aptly titled Analysis Paralysis.  But before we settle in there, let’s look at the incredibly sage reminder Lysa offers in Chapter 6, “Our decisions aren’t just isolated choices. Our decisions point our lives in the direction we’re about to head. Show me a decision and I’ll show you a direction.”  She goes on to cite a passage from Andy Stanley’s The Principle of the Path which underscores our direction determines our destination.

That is a powerful reminder.  Because we allow ourselves the excuse when making an unwise choice that it’s a small decision.  But that small decision builds on more small decisions and they end up setting the course for where we end up.  Foolish spending, unwise eating, distance in our marriages, inattention to work, each choice builds up to a far greater set of problems if we don’t start setting boundaries and offering strategic nos.  What is a choice before you?  Where will that one decision lead you?  And then where?  Is that the direction in which you want to head?

After you’ve “chased down that decision,” it’s time to ban analysis paralysis and the fear that we’re not enough.  This quote I led with is one of my favorites this week; all too often we worry that if things don’t turn out perfectly, or worse yet, exactly as we imagined, then it’s the end of that dream or opportunity.  But it’s just an error NOT the end.  You redirect.  Recalibrate.  Revise your course.  The verse builds this concept around is from Proverbs 3:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all of your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Before you make the decision, you have to trust God to direct your course.  And then AFTER you’ve made the decision, you have to trust Him to carry out the course.  Or as the book puts it, “If I’m trusting myself, I will stare at all the possible ways I could fail. If I’m trusting God, I will stare at all the possible ways He’ll use this whether I fail or succeed.”

All to often, what is holding us back from making a decision, whether it be a yes or no, is fear.  Fear of failing or fear of succeeding (and yes, that’s a real thing, I can attest).  Fear of looking foolish or being rejected.  Fear of setbacks and or wrong timing.

We’ve got to release that fear that paralyzes us from acting.  Because nothing we ever do will be perfect.  We will make wise choices that still have flaws in them.  We will make poor choices that won’t foreclose all opportunities ahead.  And while we shouldn’t act rashly, we do HAVE to act.  We do the best with the facts we have in hand knowing the direction we need to go.  A season of career growth.  A season of time with our kids.  A season of focus on health or relationships.  I think we Type A perfectionists think the world hinges on whether we say yes or no.  It doesn’t.  There’s freedom in embracing that:

My imperfections will never override God’s promises.
God’s promises are not depending on my ability to always choose well,
but rather on His ability to use well.

So what about you?  What paralyzes you when it’s time to make a decision?  What frees you up to act as wisely as you can in the season you’re experiencing?  What did you read that helped you chart your course this week?

The New Face of Brave

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Go on, jump, jump!  C’mon, everyone else is doing it!  JUMP!!!  They yell at her standing on the precipice of the cliff staring at the waters below.  Something in her warns, You shouldn’t jump.  You should not  jump.  This is not the right choice for you.

So she steps back despite their heckling and jeers.  Chicken, they charge.

But sometimes bravery is not jumping. 

Sometimes bravery looks like saying no.

Sometimes bravery means stepping out of the throngs pressing you into a choice and saying, This isn’t for me.  I’m not scared.  I’m wise

There’s a difference.  Risk taking can be just as much standing up against the tidal wave of pressure and stopping the momentum.  In fact, that is often the face of brave.  Challenging gravity.  The tide.  The force of public opinion.  Accepting the possibility of anger or ridicule or alienation.

I’ve written a lot about risk when it comes to leadership.  But we don’t always talk about what the risk looks like.  In fact, one of my favorite quotes likens risks to jumping off a ski slope.  What if risk was turning around when the slope was beyond you?  What if you could endanger those coming up behind you by foolishly launching off a slope that wasn’t skiable?

 

Won’t you join me over at God-sized Dreams today for the rest of the story? 

Fashion Fridays: Holiday Runway to Home Closet

I had my three part holiday party series ready to debut on this Fashion Friday until I went to the most fun holiday runway show with girlfriends yesterday (at the Nutcracker Market for you Houstonians).  So I decided to use all that fabulous material for today’s post, and it sets me up PERFECTLY for the holiday series kick off next week!

Saks hosts the style show, and while there were some outlandish items, there were also some absolutely lovely pieces that I’d snatch right up if they didn’t have the little Oscar de la Renta label sewn into them forever keeping them out of my budget.

But you can absolutely take the concepts featured and run with it in less expensive ways.  My apologies for the quality of the photos, there was a spotlight right behind the models from the angle where I sat, but hopefully you’ll spy some ways you can incorporate one of these four simple style ideas:

1.  Embellished black. 

These were some of my favorite pieces of the whole show.  This first piece was super simple except for the exquisite shimmer and feathers on the bottom of the satin capped sleeve blouse.  The second piece (while blurry) is crazy fun and edgy as a combo motorcycle jacket/feathered skirt.  It’s nuts but it works!

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2.  Black and white. 

Quintessentially classic.  Always chic.  I love the ways they played with black and white.  From a traditional white sheath dress with gorgeous black embroidery to a white chiffon-like top half of a dress married to a black shimmery skirt and a pleated dress that’s a cross between tweed and mirrors.

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3.  Metallics. 

Oh y’all, I’m going to preach this in the series, but I love metallic.  Especially silvers for the holidays.  (And I couldn’t resist including the one with the guy sporting metallic – I’m going to vote no on my hubby stepping out looking like he’s bedecked in Reynolds Wrap…)

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And oh there were several gorgeous pewters too, which I may have even preferred to these silvers – delish!

4.  Jewel tones. 

Any skin tone can find a jewel tone to compliment.  Maybe it’s a purple or a red or a teal, but one will work.  And all of the evening gowns in the show were in the vibrant shades that would certainly turn heads in a party.

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Now I realize that normally I would tell you where to find the affordable alternative but today is me just providing some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.  Between the Nutcracker Market yesterday and then Disney Princesses on Ice last night with little bit (oh yes, we did, and we had a blast!), I’m a little bleary eyed just getting this much info to you.  But stay tuned for the holiday party series, and I’ll have plenty of shopping tips and tricks to tackle the onslaught of events on your December calendar.