Thursday, October 22, 1998
When you think of holiday parties, do visions of glittering galas fill your head, or more casual family gatherings? Your social schedule may be a mix of both and you''ll want fashions that fit the event and the latest styles.
The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year''s is usually a busy time for most, with friends and family getting together for parties and meals. Naturally, you want to find outfits with a little more flair than your average office clothes, to dress up and show how you enjoy this season, something that prides itself on being a little more sparkly than the others, even in the thick of winter.
"People start thinking of holiday fashions mostly after Halloween," says Robin Moran, a local fashion consultant with 20 years of experience. "This is also a time for sentiment. Many people are spending time with family and close friends."
Some of the best tips for dressing up during the holidays revolve around color and unique statement pieces. Especially for Christmas, people might automatically think of green and red, but not everyone can wear these colors. Black, of course, has been a staple of evening wear for decades, maybe centuries, but even for the holidays, fashions tend to change from year to year.
"The color for this fall and holiday season is gray, all shades of gray," says Moran. "I know, first you think ''how boring,'' but the right shade and style make a difference."
According to Rosaline Liu, the personal shopping consultant at Macy''s in Del Monte Center, plum is also hot this season. "I''m seeing all shades of purple and beautiful mauves this year...Last year, there was lots of green, and gold. Black still dominates, of course."
However much gray or purple you add to your wardrobe, you''ll still want a little pizzazz. "Color is important. For parties, a mercury or medium gray silk or satin skirt is elegant," Moran says. "Jewel tones, like wine, sapphire, some navy, those are good. Rich, deep colors are always good. Silver is bigger than gold now as an accent color."
Walking into Macy''s in Monterey even in mid-October, you see halls decked with gift ideas and party fashions. For women, velvets of nearly every type and color jump from the racks, with ankle-length dresses of the soft, silky material, and sheer blouses trimmed in velvet collars and cuffs, a la Versace''s latest line. In the men''s department, styles remain much the same, especially in evening wear, with navy and black dominating.
"Men''s fashions change more slowly," explains Moran. "For holidays, I like a luxurious touch, a cashmere scarf, something warm and elegant. Dark colors are still big, and loose fit designs. A long wool coat can make a statement, or some fine unusual shoes. Men can do more with acessories, like silk ties."
Liu agrees. "Men''s fashions are dressy but in dark colors. One way to dress up a whole suit is with a solid color tie. There''s lots of colors, [in] a high gloss satin. You can also work with colored shirts, blue with a nice blue tie, or maybe mauve with pink."
Throughout the fashion world this year, several trends have reversed from last year. A lean, long dress, perhaps with spaghetti straps, is in vogue for parties. "The styles emphasize less rather than more, meaning a simple line, casual, not lots of ruffles, or heavy sequins," says Moran. "Use rich fabric, a dressy fabric. A classy look is a floor-length black jersey dress with a scarf and nice shoes, or a wine velvet dress with jewel buttons."
Another trend that may upset animal rights activists, but nonetheless has been creeping in since early fall, is fur and faux fur. You see unusual designs and innovative uses on dresses, blouses, jackets, even shoes. Liu notices "there''s lots of sheer and solid contrasts, like chiffon with fur collars and trims." In many ladies'' departments, you''ll find subtle faux-leopard and tiger fur prints on sweaters and dresses.
No matter what the design, a key point to remember in holiday dressing is attitude. You want to feel comfortable and attractive, so choose special pieces to express a festive mood. Even if you''re working with a limited budget, you can go far with a unified color or two, accented with one or two special items. "You can use a grandmother''s necklace to dress things up and make you feel special," Moran says. "You can express a holiday mood with a special piece, a cute vintage hat or maybe a shawl.
"You want simplicity and richness at the same time. There''s lots of romance and classics, so focus on simple with an accent. Also vintage and antique designs are getting to be big, from the ''20s and ''40s. I think beaded sweaters are a good choice."
Dressing children for the holiday season can be at times a joy or a disaster. Some children might object to being dressed in their finest to visit grandma, and some enjoy dressing ''grown up'' like their parents. Liu mentions burgundy and black as popular choices for boys and girls. Young girls look great in festive red dresses, and boys are cute in miniature blue suits just like Dad''s. "Children should reflect adult fashions. Children should wear their best," Moran says. "Black and blue velvet work, classic styles especially from the ''40s or ''50s. I think pinwale corduroy, a very fine corduroy, for boys and girls is great. You should find clothes to emphasize their innocence and freshness. Most children are adorable and you don''t need to go overboard."
Fashion gurus on the Internet tout even more sparkle for holiday wear. "You may want a more dramatic look than usual. It''s practically impossible not to glitter and shine. Designers had a ball with glitter, on everything from camisoles to bags," says the Dressing Well Online Website.
The Fashion Planet Website reiterates the selections at Macy''s: "The biggest news in holiday dressing is fabrication. Styling tends to be pure and classic, if not downright minimal. Fabric is the season''s new star. Designers fell in love with velvet, cut velvet and crushed velvet jackets."
For more holiday fashion ideas, try the Holiday Fashion Fantasies show at Laguna Seca Golf Club on Oct. 26 at 6pm. This benefit for Door To Hope, a women''s center in Salinas, features designs from Gerry''s of Carmel, Anelle''s (Salinas and Pacific Grove) and Dick Bruhn''s men''s stores. Dinner and show, $50. Call 758-0181 for details.