fashion for the holidays

Christmas and New Year are upon us. A lot of you are not feeling it. You may have a lot of reasons to stay in hiding! But here’s some advice: don’t!

If you have gotten comfortable with your endless routine of “what-day-is-it-anyway?”; “can I still wear that sweater and sweatpants or is it time to wash them?”; and “what does it all matter?” I want to encourage you to step up your game.

Hopefully, you will be able to share some social closeness with at least a few people in your safe “bubble.” And hopefully, you will have an opportunity to speak with family or friends or groups via Zoom, FaceTime, etc.

Even if it means venturing to the grocery store or pharmacy for necessities, why not give the people you meet some visual delight?

Connecting with Your Friends and Family

For both situations, whether public or private, but especially if you are only connecting electronically, it’s even more important than ever to make that little extra effort to spruce yourself up and sparkle a bit.

Doing so will help you create a more upbeat pathway to a future beyond lockdowns and isolation. It will give you a chance to proclaim: “I’m still here.”

The truth is, every time we get dressed, we are demonstrating respect both for ourselves, first, and for everyone that we encounter. Think of all the times we see our wonderful Margaret Manning on videos here on Sixty and Me. How would you feel if she showed up in a ratty sweatshirt?

Margaret takes the time to present herself with dignity and joy. She has that much respect for herself, for us, and in doing so, inspires us to do the same.

What We Can Do to “Sparkle” for the Holidays

Start with color. Traditionally, around the holidays we tend to go for brighter colors. It’s how we counteract the stark weather outside in the Northern Hemisphere.

Color Choices

There is a lot of psychology behind the colors we wear. Black is great for cocktail dresses and New Year’s gatherings. It has a quality of mystery and drama. But is that how you want to be seen this season? I think we’ve had enough mystery and drama this year, thank you.

So, unless it’s your favorite color, you look fabulous in it, and you intend to jazz it up with a lot of bling and makeup, at least for these holiday events I recommend that you avoid black. Your family or friends will want to see you in something brighter or lighter.

Winter white? Yes, white is a very big trend right now, especially in sweaters and suits, although you aren’t likely to wear a suit on camera for Zoom sessions with your tribe. But a winter white jacket and matching slacks with a sparkly or satin-y top can be a very chic and lovely combination for a gathering, however small.

Reds are, of course, a perennial for the holidays, and everyone has some shade of red in their palette. In general, (and although we all are unique in our coloring) saturated stark and vibrant red/orange shades work best for women with more contrast in their coloring, e.g., dark hair and very dark or light skin.

Warmer reds – the bricks and terracottas that are very popular right now – are better on women with more olive skin and auburn or brown hair.

Cherry reds and pinks are lovely on those with bright, playful coloring. And bluer reds, those leaning somewhat toward mauves and plums, are lovely on women with pale coloring, i.e., very little contrast in their overall skin, eye, and hair colors.

Solid Color or Pattern?

Also, solid colors tend to be a better look on camera than patterns. In person, you can go for a pattern. But in general, patterns are busy and can distort on camera. If you want to look a bit more elegant and “forward,” solid colors will help you to show up more. You want the focus to be on your face, not on the intricacies of the pattern.  

Feature What Shows

The good news is that regardless of any weight you may have gained, most online meet-ups will only feature you from the waist up. This way you can still wear your most comfortable bottoms with a showier top.

If you have a few “safe” guests over, you can just draw their eye to the pretty thing you wear on the top half of your body! (Besides, they have likely gained weight too!)

Leather and Themed Sweaters

Leather is still a huge trend right now. But it just doesn’t say home for the holidays, does it? Fortunately, cozy sweaters and tops are very popular. Still, consider not going full “reindeer” or “snowman.” Those are definitely festive, but not terribly chic. (If you knitted it or a relative made it for you, you get a pass.)

Look for one of the solid color sweaters, especially in cashmere. If you have some in your wardrobe, this would be a good time to bring them out. We’re seeing them at every price point you can imagine.

Online you’ll find them in shades of pink – from hot pink to cotton candy – and a broad range of blues, from navy to powdery blues. There are also a lot of copper colors right now, which can be beautiful on those with warmer coloring.

Another very popular trend that has continued throughout the entire year is the sweater set. Button down V-neck cardigans can stand on their own without a matching piece. That’s a very modern spin on this trend.

Asymmetrical Necklines

We are also seeing a lot of tops with asymmetrical necklines, some revealing entire shoulders on one side, and some with cut-outs. Depending on how daring you are, this would make quite a statement. You could pair them with tailored or wide-leg pants or a long skirt (for a stay-at-home event, of course.) Or just wear them to dress up your jeans or nicer loungewear bottoms.

Shiny Tops and Velvet

What better time than the holidays to wear a shiny or sparkly top? That’s one item that can really cheer up your look. It can be either a satin or sequined tank worn under a jacket or coat or a matching color sweater.

Unless you are going for a more dramatic look, keep the colors similar. You don’t want to mix too many metaphors when you are wearing something that eye-catching.

Finally, don’t forget velvet. A velvet top with a simple gemstone necklace or earrings is a lovely and very feminine look for all holiday gatherings, both in person and on screen.

Bling It Up!

Speaking of jewelry, think of yourself like a Christmas tree. Ornaments reflect light and have a magical quality. So, add a piece or two of your favorite jewelry that makes you the ornament that sparkles.

Since none – or at least very few – of us has had a chance to wear much jewelry over the past year, the trends have stayed the same as those featured early in the year. (Retailers, sadly, haven’t moved much inventory.)

You’ll still see trends like thicker chain link necklaces, pearls in all shapes and styles, and large costume jewelry “gemstones.” The newer chain necklaces are truly “heavy” metal: they are pretty dramatic, and very large in scale.

The gemstone necklaces and the lighter metal links are just more festive. You can also combine a gemstone necklace with pearls for a very Chanel-type look. The holidays are a perfect time to do this without looking overdone.

The “bourgeois-meets-streetwear” idea is another very fun way to play with jewelry. You can wear jeans or slacks and a $20 tee shirt in a festive color with a chunky gemstone or pearl necklace or some of the pretty chandelier-type earrings and instantly have a very chic look.

If you use your hands a lot when you talk, charm bracelets are a growing trend and showy cocktail rings are always a nice way to add a little emphasis to your hands. Just make sure to keep up your manicure, whether in a color or a neutral shade.

Dress Up Your Face

Internet pros understand that no matter how much makeup you wear, cameras and lights, even on great phones, will wash you out. (I learned that the hard way.) So, if you are having a holiday Zoom meeting with family or friends don’t be afraid to go a little bit more extreme than you ordinarily would for an in-person party or celebration.

Also, cooler colors that work for you in daylight tend to look more exaggerated on camera. If you have any lipsticks in your warmer shades, you will look somewhat healthier and brighter. That means lean toward your rich reds and corals instead of lightest pinks.

As with any makeup, play up your best features. If your eyes sparkle and tend to speak volumes, emphasize them. Add a little eyeshadow or at least some mascara, particularly if you wear glasses. For most people, regardless of their eye color, black mascara shows up best on camera and behind specs.

Lastly, you can test out your image beforehand by turning on your phone’s selfie video camera. If uneven coloration or age spots show up, then you know you need to use some sort of cover up. As for the wrinkles, wear them proudly. They show you have done a lot of smiling… and living.

Are you having any holiday gatherings? Will they be online? What do you plan to wear?