Dressing for the holidays is usually a spirited tug-of-war between practicality and whimsy. And thanks to the daily grind, practicality typically has more muscle.
On one hand, it's a special time full of visits and visitors. You want to look nice. You want to look as if you've been sprinkled with holiday cheer or at the least you don't want to be mistaken for Scrooge. Holidays are the time for sparkle and shimmer.
But on the other hand, you've probably still got things to do. Children to entertain or care for, meals to prepare, desserts to adorn, dishes to wash, décor to hang and myriad chores that don't magically disappear when the holidays roll in. The last thing you want to do is fret with your wardrobe. Or feel “too precious” to get things done.
Holiday dressing is much more than the holiday office party or charity gala. It's a lot of homespun events, and it's not just customary to inject a little winter fancy into your attire — it's a great way to keep you in the spirit. And believe it or not, studies that say that kids are better behaved when they are well-dressed. But don't expect a bow tie or flouncy dress to work miracles.
At least the photo ops will be well-styled.
Holiday wardrobe suggestions:
— Don't be afraid of winter white. You might want to pick a day when your activities are lighter and you're doing more visiting, but it's a great breath of fresh air that will lift spirits. And just to ease your mind, keep a Plan B on standby.
— Do embrace some shimmer. There are great fabrics with a hint of metallic that speak volumes without being difficult to wear.
— Do dress up your legs. Yes, there's a high probability that the lace, polka dot, jewel toned or stripped leg wear you're considering will be ruined by a snag, but there's an even higher probability of compliments and the desire to twirl.
— Don't sacrifice comfort. A slim fit dress shouldn't be stiff or high maintenance. Opt for knit that won't wrinkle. And if you do invest in shapewear don't buy the smallest size you can wrangle into after 10 minutes of tugging — a size or two up can still smooth and shape without feeling like a body cast. People can tell when you're uncomfortable, even when you think you're accomplishing something, even when people compliment you because you caught them staring and they think you might pass out. They know you're uncomfortable, and it makes them uncomfortable, so be merry. Breathe!
— Do jazz up your jewelry. Costume jewelry with a little more glitter and shine than your usual can make a big impact without being difficult to wear. High-watt earrings (even if it's just a solitary bold jewel) and chunky rock-encrusted necklaces are an easy addition that will elevate almost anything. Watches, rings and bracelets can be trickier because of your activities but they are usually worth the effort. There's something about looking down and seeing a sparkle-happy object dangling from your wrist that makes people smile, at least if you're like us and still obsessed with shiny objects.
— Do holiday footwear. Patent leather, embellished toes and bright colors abound in flats and low heels that will complete an outfit and be comfortable enough to wear all day.
— Don't forget hair and makeup. A simple single braid can be a show stopper, even if you haven't mastered the craft you can twist two strands (thick or thin) together to make a strand that you can clip into place. Keep your look low-key. Soft eyes and a happy red or slightly purple lip can do all the work.
Debra D. Bass writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.