The Marie Reyes Blog

How to Build a Holiday Wardrobe

  • By Marie Reyes

How to Build a Holiday Wardrobe

I don’t know about you, but as the end of the year approaches, I find myself invited to so many holiday events that I’m often double-booked. It’s a busy time of year, with the parties of my friends and acquaintances, corporate functions, charity galas, launch events and other occasions to dress up for. I love the glitz and glamour of holiday parties, and they’re a great excuse to bust out the fancy dresses and over-the-top accessories that can sometimes seem like too much for events at other points during the year. Of course, you don’t want to be seen wearing the exact same outfit for two parties, especially with overlapping guest lists and photographers capturing the night for all to see. That’s where I think it becomes important to plan your holiday wardrobe and make the most of your black-tie wear.

I’ve thought about my own approach to dressing, and come up with a few pointers on how to build your own luxury holiday wardrobe. You want to appear at your best, and have a fresh look for all of the upcoming functions as the year comes to a close.

Think classic

While you can have a lot of fun wearing the newest trends, a basic wardrobe built around traditional silhouettes and elegant styles will carry you a lot further in the long run. Classic, feminine cocktail and evening dresses are designed to look good at all sorts of events, not just the most cutting-edge or artsy. I love dressing in simple pieces which are constructed and tailored beautifully, and designed to last. These heavy-hitters will form the base not only of your holiday wardrobe, but can be brought out at other times of year, too!

Separates are valuable

When it comes to creating multiple looks from the same selection of clothing, separates are my favorite choice. You can mix and match them almost endlessly, and once you add in accessories, the different combinations become so distinct looking. That perfect black pencil skirt you wear all the time becomes a party staple when you pair it with any number of glittery and fancy blouses. Your favourite designer blazer can give a different look to a dress you’ve worn once already. Skinny tuxedo pants will make you look completely different when worn with heels and a draped top than when you style them in a masculine way with patent leather brogues and a jacket.

Avoid “statement” dresses

As much fun as I find it to wear a show-stopping, make-them-talk statement dress, you really can’t wear it again anytime soon without someone recognizing it. Also, you know these sorts of dresses can really walk the line between ending up on the “Best Dressed” and “Worst Dressed” lists. It’s far better for you to be remembered as the classy, sophisticated person who made great conversation than the woman whose dress distracted from her actual interactions with other people. Save the over-the-top gown for your New Year’s Eve party!

Accessorize effectively

Are you looking for a way to dress up those separates or simply elegant dresses? Choosing the right accessories is a necessary skill to develop. For the holidays, more so than any other time of year, you want to be utterly sparkling and captivating. Well-made cocktail jewels (especially good vintage, designer ones) are worth the extra time and money to acquire. This is also a perfect time to break out the bolder items in your fine jewelry collection. Diamonds, gold and platinum are all excellent, timeless choices which match any look you’re going for. Statement pieces are also far more useful in the jewelry department, because they can look different when paired with different outfits, and therefore can be worn multiple times, unlike a statement dress.

Shoes and belts can also pull together an outfit and completely change its look, depending on how you wear them. There are endless dress heels out there for you to choose from, from brightly coloured silk or satin stilettos to towering rhinestone platforms, to shiny patent leather shoes of every height and description. I love shoes for modernizing a classic outfit, as well. A pair with a daring, up-to-the-minute, trendy look can make even a simple shift dress seem cutting-edge. Belts are so often overlooked in the world of modern fashion, but can define your waist, add a pop of color to an otherwise simple outfit and pull together separates to look like they were made as a set. Whether you go for a delicate chain grazing over your hips, a structured metal piece, a wide and shining fabric sash or a cincher reminiscent of a corset, a belt can bring your outfit to another level.

Sumptuous fabrics are your best friend

‘Tis the season for velvets, laces, silks and sequins! Luxurious fabrics will elevate even the simplest designs to be holiday-party-ready. I love adding texture to my occasion wear, and choosing a piece made with stunning material is one of the best ways I’ve found to do that. Your goal is to add visual interest to your outfit — and especially if you’re pairing separates, it helps to have contrasting textures to play with. Fabrics which reflect the light differently, have subtle color changes or different levels of stiffness or flow are the sort of thing you’re looking for. If you’re the type of woman who enjoys wearing furs (or good faux furs), this is the perfect time of year to don those, and you can be sure that they’ll instantly give your outfit a sense of old Hollywood glamour.

Pick items which travel well

I know that not all of the holiday events I plan to attend are going to be happening locally. When you have to jet off to another city or even across the sea to attend one of the most hotly anticipated events of the season, you need to think about packing party wear which will avoid wrinkling or the need for special care to look right. You should consider investing in a few staple pieces which utilize modern anti-wrinkle technologies or which can be rolled or folded in any way and come out looking fine even without ironing or time to hang. Anything which saves space in your suitcase will also help, so slinky silk and lace numbers are probably a better choice than a big, bulky velvet and sequin number.

Organize your dressing room

Make a list of what clothing you already have which is appropriate for holiday events, and what you still need to shop for. Set aside a separate closet or section of your closet for holiday party wear, so you can do a quick visual inventory when dressing. Take any stored items out so you can access them easily, and make sure they’re appropriately pressed, steamed or otherwise refreshed in order to be ready to wear. Also, think about which items you’d like to wear together, and place them together for quick and easy outfit-building. I also like to take photos of good combinations so I can refer to them quickly on a day where I don’t have much time between events and need a foolproof look.

I hope these suggestions are useful as you begin to build and wear your holiday wardrobe. This strategy works well in my busy, overbooked life, so I suspect it will be just as valuable to you. Here’s to a fantastic season of parties and other events!

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