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??

 

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.

Fashion Fridays: Styling Your Family Christmas Photo

I’m a little OCD about family photographs.

First of all, I love them.  I would have them taken four times a year if Bray would give me the budget.  As it is, we do a professional photo shoot once, maybe twice, a year.  This year, we had to forego my beloved pumpkin patch photo shoot but I was NOT going to miss the Christmas photo shoot.  They only get that dressed up at Christmas and Easter and, by heavens, I want proof of it!

Here are some basic ground rules for our family that may not make my tips as workable for your family.  One, I don’t like everyone wearing the same thing – like those photos with everyone in white shirts and jeans.  They are great, but I just need more individuality in my pictures.  Additionally, Bray does not want the kids to match.  So despite all the fun matchy things you can do with triplets, I have to go with “coordinating” rather than “matching.”

With those basic principles in place, here are my styling tips and lessons learned for the family Christmas photo shoot:

1.  Buy the boys clothes first. 

Boys ALWAYS have the most limited selection.  It is particularly dire if they wear sizes 4 to 6 because, unlike girls, that age is clothing-nowhere-land for boys that want to wear something other than t-shirts with weird graphics.  Dress clothes will completely evade you in that wilderness of sizes between preschool and size 8.

Yet all too often we allow an adult outfit or a GIRL’S outfit (who has a thousand choices) dictate the style/color scheme/formality of the picture.  I made the huge mistake this year of falling in love with a silver dress for little bit and having to move heaven and earth to find appropriate boys outfits (because of point #2).

2.  Pick holiday themed colors.

Now I am a seriously classic Christmas girl.  But I realized this year that all of our Christmas photo shoots were green and red.  They also often involved plaid and a sweater vest.  I wasn’t kidding – CLASSIC!  However…if I’d like to have any differences from year to year, it was time to mix things up a bit.

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With red and green out the window, and having fallen in love with the silver dress, I decided on silvers and blues for the color scheme – still classic enough of a Christmas color scheme for little ole me to sign off on.  Plus, how hard can it be to find silvers and blues for boys?  Like, the easiest boy color on the planet!

That is a myth.  Dress clothes are completely mythical if you want boys size 6.  Here are the places to shop for boys: a) department stores, b) zulily if you have a zillion years to wait (yes, my adorable gray fedora came in the week after the pictures), c) Gymboree, for pants, d) the Tie Shop for accessories, e) eBay.  I shop more and more on eBay because I can never find what I want in mainstream stores.  Etsy and eBay are life savers.  Just check shipping speed and cost – no two day Prime there.  I finally did find the silver/blue combo in reverse order for each boy.

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3.  Give yourself more than the week of the pictures to do everything else. 

In my case, with the boys/men in pants and dress shirts and little bit in a super fancy dress, I felt like I needed a nice dress, preferably in jewel blue and black tones to go with the color palette.  I tried, and returned, everything.  I then found a patterned gray and black skirt I loved that I tried to plan an outfit around (ahem, never plan an outfit around a skirt).  Still on the DAY of the pictures I had multiple options strew about the bed, none of which were terribly flattering.  (Luckily, because of the meltdown mentioned below, we barely got one family shot and you just see my head – whew!) I also ran around the day before finding silver and blue themed Christmas props (gorgeous Nutcrackers, which we NEVER even used!).

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4.  If you have nappers, don’t schedule the photo right after the kids wake up.

Enough said.  Seriously.  I know photographers like late afternoon photos but if your kids nap til nearly 3 and then you have to get them ready and out the door by 4, you will have a terrible photo shoot.  You can only pray the last five minutes turn out, as ours did, since the rest of the shoot will be an epic meltdown.

5.  Relax.

I’ve not mastered this one.  Maybe next year?

 

* Photos courtesy of the lovely and talented Julie Shochat.  She’s a saint.  The photos used are not the ones featured on my Christmas card in case you thought I was spoiling the surprise.

Fashion Fridays: Interesting Items

I’m often asked “what are the trends” in fashion in any given year.  I might embrace a color or pattern that’s trending, but I rarely make entire fashion style choices based on trend because it may not work for my style, size, or age.

What I love to find, instead, are interesting items.  Unique pieces in a particular boutique or city or even a quirky item in a larger set of stores that might add some flare to an existing ensemble.

I realized how much I’m drawn to distinguishing characteristics when I was enjoying girl time at Allume in Greenville this past weekend.  My darling friend Kristen and I found a little time to shop Friday afternoon and here are a few of the items we spotted:

1.  We each picked up one of these incredibly soft infinity scarves for $30 from a local Greenville boutique, but mine was this irresistible dove gray chevron pattern:

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2.  We popped into Anthropologie and they had two wonderful items:  first were these gloves with uber feminine leather bow details at the wrist (in lavender and teal!!) and the second was this double sided neck scarf/ascot that had faux fur on one side and a lovely patterned sweater fabric on the flip side:

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3.  Booties are everywhere, but these gorgeous burgundy boots from Nine West are crazy with lovely details; besides the rich fall color,  they have this lovely scalloped cut out detail and a zipper in back – distinctive from most booties on the market:

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Don’t you love stumbling on something that doesn’t look like everything else in the market?  Tell me, what’s your favorite hidden boutique in your neighborhood?

Fashion Fridays: What To Do When In Transition Sizes

So my amazing college sorority sister and I were going back and forth on Facebook and I said, “I need some fresh ideas for Fashion Fridays!”  So she sent me some great ideas!

Drumroll please…she has lost FORTY FIVE pounds!  Y’all, how inspiring is that?  But she is working on the rest of her goal, about 20 pounds, so she doesn’t want to invest in an all new wardrobe just yet.  As you can imagine, her current wardrobe is not fitting.  Hence today’s Fashion Friday: What To Do When In Transition Sizes

You do have to buy a few pieces.  Since you know you won’t camp out at that size, you can find lower cost items, second hand retail, as well as purchase a few key pieces to get you through the remaining weight loss process.

I’ve gone through this myself before when I lost a fair amount of weight in 2011, and I had a transition size between my original size and my ultimate weight loss size (which I’m working to get back into now!).  So what’s a girl to do to look snappy but still keep from throwing money away?  Here are a few tips:

1.      Consider tailoring a handful of items.  My friend bought some clothes when she lost 30 pounds, and now those are too big.  However, those are likely just one size up from the clothes she needs now and something like a skirt or a dress may be easily tailored by pulling in an inseam to take it down one size.

Get recommendations for a local, reasonable, tailor.  You need a good tailor even after arriving at your final size just in case a must-have item you purchased needs a nip or tuck.  Ten dollars to shrink a waistband is far more reasonable than $80 for a new pair of pants.

2.     Buy a couple of quality basic pieces that can be the foundation for your work wardrobe.  She works in a fairly conservative environment, so buying two pair of pants or skirts in a black or camel that fit beautifully now (and might be tailored in 10 more pounds) will help you feel better about how you look.  Consider a simple shift dress that you can change up with a cardigan, blazer, or scarf.

This simple A-line dress can work across sizes and is on sale for $75 at Macy’s:

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3.     Buy a couple of fun trendy pieces.  Since this isn’t your permanent size you can go nuts with trends, but buy them at low cost places.  I recommend second hand like on ThredUp, a great online second hand store where you can return what doesn’t work, or consider Target, Kohl’s, Marshall’s, or even AnnTaylor Loft with coupons (always search on line for coupons before buying).

This gorgeous snow leopard jacket was 50% of at Ann Taylor Loft yesterday which moved it from the too pricey to the just right category:

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4.  Accessorize!  The greatest way to make your handful of items work for this interim period without looking repetitive is to mix up your accessories.  Bold scarfs or fun necklaces or interesting wedges.  You can invest in some quality pieces too because these will fit regardless of your size.

If you want to splurge, this gorgeous multi-blue strand necklace via Stella & Dot would go with any ensemble:

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Or for less than $10 (WHAT?!?!?) you can add this lovely fall cranberry scarf to an otherwise simple outfit:

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And keep up the good work.  Hang in there – you are almost there.  Keep to the basics until then and just mix it up with a few additions that fit your size now!