Holiday Festivities

With the holiday season in full swing now, it's time for party invites to hit the mail. Luckily for me (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), my friends are all (A) too busy and/or (B) too budgeted to host any extravagant soirees, and I don't currently hold the kind of job that offers one of those infamous annual office functions.

That aside, you yourself might have exactly that kind of job. Or, like me, you'll simply find any excuse to dress up. For instance, the night I wore the outfit above, I was meeting a friend at what was described to me as a "jazz bar." Visions of a low-lit club with white tablecloths and abundant golf-clapping danced in my head, so I pulled out my shiniest little black dress and French twisted the ever loving life out of my hair...

...only to find myself in a billiard / ping-pong / shuffleboard hall, complete with a scruffy jazz band stuffed beside the overcrowded bar. Lucky for me, my friend had classed up too, so we shared a laugh at our overdressing and made sure the night was unforgettable anyway.

How do you avoid playing the fool in your fancy holi-duds?

Here are three fail-safe steps for comfortable-yet-chic holiday dressing, for ladies and gents alike:

1) Stick with the standard.
This means if you're going to an office party, don't select a dress with a hemline eight inches shorter than what you'd wear on a given work day. Likewise, if your friends are blue-collar hipsters whose idea of fancy dress is "not flannel," you're probably safe with an ironic festive sweater, tailored pants, and nice flats. (Just maybe ditch the beanie and run a comb through your hair or something.)

2) Add some glitz.
Once you've determined your standard framework, tszuj it up a little. Accessorizing is an easy way to class-up everyday basics. For dudes, this might mean the one time of year you pull out your tie clip or funky cufflinks. Ladies, feel free to consider jewelry with a bit more sparkle than your regular office accouterments. If your daily wear is more casual than business, opt for a similar silhouette with more luxe fabric choices. An everyday uniform consisting of an a-line day dress + opaque tights + ankle boots can be elevated to an embellished fit-and-flare affair + sheer nylons + heeled suede booties. Don't be afraid to shine; 'tis the season of twinkling lights and sparkly ornaments, after all.

3) Consider color.
If you're shopping for something new, there are a few standard holiday palettes that resurface year after year. Jewel tones are a safe bet for most every skin tone, and obvious choices include Christmas' ruby and emerald shades or the Hanukkah-associated sapphire. Metallics -- especially gold and silver -- often feature heavily in New Year's outfits. Finally, black and winter white (cream) are safe standbys for more formal affairs.

Them's the rules. Now get celebratin'!

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