Fashion experts stress moderation in holiday dressing

Posted On December 4, 2006

Filed under Fashion&Style

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The holidays invite overindulgence, whether it’s overspending on gifts, stuffing yourself at holiday parties or imbibing too much 100-proof cheer. To this list we should add one more: overdressing.

When it comes to choosing stylish attire for the holidays, some women dress like Mrs. Claus on a three-day drunk. Reindeer sweaters. Musical clothing. Candy-cane earrings. The holidays bring out the worst fashion choices this side of the earth. Whimsical fashion does not amuse me. Novelty sweaters with sparkles, and sweaters that light up, and men who have neckties that have Christmas wreaths and play a jingle, I think they’re a line that should not have been crossed.

If this sounds like someone you know, perhaps your holiday gift to them should be “Glamour’s Big Book of Dos & Don’ts” (Gotham Books, $25). The book is named for Glamour magazine’s popular back-page item, which features paparazzi-style photos of women in public. The fashion “Dos” wear their clothes well. But it’s the “Don’ts” that excite our horror and sympathy. These frights and frumps commit a myriad of sartorial sins, from wearing denim bustiers to mixing Spandex with animal prints. All have a black bar superimposed over their faces to spare their feelings and, presumably, to avoid lawsuits. The message to readers is clear: This could be you.

Women can avoid being a Fashion Don’t over the holidays, experts say. For example, use the season to take advantage of dressing up the way you can’t at, say, a Fourth of July barbecue. But this does not mean trying to outshine the Christmas tree.

My Do for the holiday season is to enjoy wearing velvet and cashmere and luscious fabrics that are too dressy to wear most of the year. This is the time to enjoy texture and depth of color and beautiful jewel tones that you can’t do 10 months out of the year.

Red and green worn together brings out the Scrooge. Those are Christmas colors, but they belong on the trees. Even those who don’t err on the side of kitsch often overdo the glitz. This is the time of year when you can really show your style. If you’re going to dress up, this is the time. A lot of people tend to take that message and go overboard. Here’s a few Don’ts for the style-conscious:

  • No. 1, never wear red and green unless you’re going to a costume gala.
  • No. 2, steer clear of anything with a holiday theme, a sweatshirt with a Christmas tree on it, a sweater embroidered with a scene, or those printed turtlenecks.

Here’s my holiday Dos, too:

If you’re going to wear one thing that’s really fancy, you should try to keep it simple everywhere else. If you’re going to wear a floor-length, sparkly gown, make sure to keep your hair natural looking and jewelry simple to avoid looking too costume-y.

Many people come into a shop looking for red. Often, they end up choosing black instead. People are afraid of red. It’s a passion color. It’s a power color. They like it, but they usually like it on other people. If you have second thoughts about red, don’t force yourself to do it. If you want something red, do a red accessory. Do a red purse. Do red jewelry. Do a red scarf.

A fashion consultant says Christmas themes are OK as long as they’re done in moderation. Some older women like to wear the Christmas tree pins, I think if it’s done with the right look, that’s OK. A caution to women who are attending holiday parties is that they can do a glittery gown or shoes, but not both. Don’t do the shoe as your main attraction. Unless you’re exposing your leg. If you are going to a cocktail party where you’re going to be sitting with your legs crossed, then the shoes will be exposed. Then you attract attention to the leg. A tasteful Christmas-themed sweater can help spread a bit of cheer. I don’t have a problem with doing a sweater that’s Christmas-y with snowflakes, because that’s the only time you can do that. If your mood moves you to do the holiday thing, then go for it.