Story by Joi Dreams | Ward Avenue Style Parlor
After years of virtual holiday celebrations, some of us got used to wearing our fanciest tops with pajama bottoms on Zoom parties. Back outside and able to dress up again, we now might be asking, “What do I wear?”
Dressing for holiday celebrations should be your style with pizzazz. Add bold colors, different textures and layers to create your head-turning look. The most important things to remember when getting dressed for any event, be it the Kennedy Honors or the family holiday, is to be comfortable, dress for your shape and impress yourself first.
To keep with the season, here are 12 Nights of Fabulous Dressing Tips. You will learn to embrace your inner fashionista, learn what your style is and be more confident wearing new looks.
1. Add color to your looks.
If you are attending a black tie event, add a bold statement with color. Women, you can carry a studded clutch purse with bold colors or go all the way like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and add a show-stopping heel in silver, red or covered with studs. Men, never underestimate the fashion prowess of a fantastic pocket square with a tuxedo or black tailored suit. Matching it with your bow tie or tie makes a fashionable statement when you are limited to all-black. Incorporating bright colors such as red, yellow, green, gold and silver will make any look pop. Don’t be afraid of bright colors. When you add bright colors to your favorite color, you will be more comfortable with your look. Accents may seem small, but can shine like a diamond along with your ensemble.
2. Remember: It's cold outside.
Your outerwear is the first thing people will see. Leave the puffer at home. Opt for a classic wool trench, faux fur, leather/faux leather long coat or a beautiful swing coat that keeps you warm while adding an extra sense of style. Women, add a belt to accent your waist to add an extra bit of fabulousness to your look. Men, a scarf tied and tucked into your coat adds a sense of style and elegance to your outerwear. Black is always in style when it comes to outerwear, but don’t be afraid of bright-colored coats; they add personality to your look.
3. Let your inner fashionista shine.
Sequin and sparkly fabrics are fabulous every day, but definitely during the holiday season. Don’t be afraid of sparkle. It can be the fairy dust that makes your holiday look shine. Sequin dresses are fabulous on every shape depending on the cut (always go with what looks good on your shape). Know what length works for you and go all in. Sequin skirts or jackets can really make your outfit shine. Also, fabrics with sparkly accents are fabulous and a great alternative to sequin. Be it a blazer, pants, vests, dress or skirts, sparkles in fabric can make an ensemble pop.
4. Take it to the cleaners.
It doesn’t matter what you paid or how fabulous the piece is, if it doesn’t fit “you” well, it will not look good on you. Women and men, get your pieces tailored. You will feel more comfortable and look that much more amazing in your fabulous look.
5. Put your foot in it.
Footwear is like the cherry on top of the clothing sundae. If you have a good pair of shoes in your closet, but haven’t worn them since 2019, take them to the cobbler to get shined and resoled. When choosing your footwear, make sure they are comfortable. Most events require a lot of standing. Women, if you wear a flat, go bold! Let it be a bright color or have shine or jewels on it; make a statement while being comfortable. If you wear a heel, be mindful of the shape. Some ensembles look better with a pointed toe rather than a round or square. Men, black shoes are great, but depending on the color of your ensemble, step out and try different tones of brown, blue, grey, green etc. There are so many different variations of colors. Find one that works with your look. You will be surprised how a different shoe color will make the outfit. Also, choose the right shoe shape for your suit or pant leg opening. The wrong shoe shape can ruin an outfit.
6. From the bottom up.
Most women wear a dress or skirt to holiday events, but a well-tailored pantsuit can turn every head. Even a bold wide leg pair of pants with a crisp white shirt can blow everyone's mind. Think out of the box. Do the opposite of what everyone expects you to do. Midi skirts can be a fantastic option if you choose the right cut for your shape, such as A-line, pleated, layered or a long pencil skirt. Men, the skinny cut is great, but straight leg and relaxed leg are great options; corduroy is making a comeback too. Don’t be shy to try different looks. It may be “your” look.
7. All in the feel.
Textures can make an outfit truly shine. Velvet, sequin, tweed, chiffon, silk, wool and other textures mixed and matched can create the show-stopping look you have been looking for. You will be pleasantly surprised how certain textures go so well with others.
8. Put a sock on it.
While the outfit is the first thing people see, we must sit down at some point. That is when our socks and stockings make an appearance. Don’t get all dressed up and put on the wrong foot covering for the look. Women, lace stockings and thigh highs are making a bold comeback. Decide if a sheer or opaque stocking or thigh high is the best choice for your look. Men, socks are important. The color and texture can make or break your look.
9. Where do I put my keys?
Daily, we usually walk around with everything but the kitchen sink in our bags and wallets, but when we are out with fancy people, we carry less. Women, a clutch is your friend. You can carry your essentials while still looking fantastic. Make sure it matches your shoes and know if you need a strap on it or if it is one that you can carry in your hand. Men, you should have a “going out wallet." This is a slim wallet that slides seamlessly into your blazer, pants or suit jacket without a bulge. You only need your essentials.
10. Bling or not to bling.
Jewels can be the perfect accessory to any outfit when chosen well. Women, be mindful of the textures of the ensemble. You don’t want a heap of junky jewelry on top of a sequin dress; they will fight each other for the spotlight. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes you need more when the ensemble is subtle. Men, cufflinks are always in style.
11. Get the assignment.
If the event calls for elegance, follow the instructions. Don’t dress down or wear the traditional teenager “job interview outfit” (khaki pants with a white shirt). There are places you can rent an ensemble; there are consignment shops and aftermarket brick and mortar or online stores. You have options. Follow the requirements. Pictures are forever now. Make your look memorable.
12. Be you, but with pizzazz.
We all have that high school photo that shows how we tried the wrong new look that was totally outside our comfort zone. Learn from that mistake. Be fabulous within your comfort zone by adding color and texture to your personal style. Different is great when you feel like your best you. Have fun and be adventurous, but feel comfortable. If you do not like it, don’t wear it.
Visit Ward Avenue Style Parlor at 2101 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, VA (located on the lower level of Joi Dreams Salon). Ward Avenue welcomes walk-ins for fashion donations and consultations for men and women.