How did this happen so fast?!! The holidays are here…that means celebrating with family, friends and colleagues as much as our schedules will permit. Weren’t we already crunched for time? But it is worth it! Because once we actually get to the party, we willingly and joyfully leave our stresses behind and enjoy the time we have with others. Or do we? Secretly, we so often fret over whether or not our holiday outfit looks haphazardly thrown together and as rushed as we felt before we walked through the door. Since we do have so many places to go and people to see within such a short period of time, we are often forced to go directly from work to a holiday gathering. It can be tricky trying to coordinate an outfit that will still look work appropriate but can also translate well into a festive look. To ease your worries, here are some great ideas and strategies to make this transition work and have you looking fabulously festive in a flash!
FIRST, DETERMINE START POINT & END POINT
Ask whether your holiday party will be a formal or an informal event. The party’s venue, theme and guest list can be a guideline if the invitation is not specific. Once you have figured out your end point (appropriate holiday attire) then take into account your current work environment and its required or preferred attire. Whether you live in suits, jeans or wear something in between, this information will determine your start point. Now, you are ready to put together your best holiday party looks even though you are coming straight from the office.
Exception: I will start off by saying that if you are attending a black tie holiday party and cannot go home prior to the event, I would highly suggest bringing a completely different outfit to work and changing at the office. However, most of your parties will not be black tie so a complete wardrobe change will not be necessary.
There are two simple approaches to tackling your holiday outfit. You can begin with your start point (work attire) or you can begin with your end point (holiday party attire). If we start with your work attire and your work demands formal dress and suits, we must create ways for you to make that suit appear more informal and festive for the party. Or, if your office has a “business casual” environment, then we need to come up with ways to dress up your work attire for the holiday party. The second option is to start with your end point and work backwards to your start point. For instance, if you already have an idea for the perfect outfit for the party, we would need to come up with ways to make it work in the office that same day. Here are some tips for either approach:
TIE UP LOOSE ENDS
After you have decided where to start…either moving forward from your work attire start point to your party attire end point or backwards from your party attire to your work attire starting point, you are now able to determine which items and outfits that you currently own will work plus identify any loose ends that need tying up to complete your look.
For example, do you need to have new soles put on your favorite pair of satin peep-toe pumps? Could that work blazer become festive with the ‘right’ belt? Does your mixed print dress need to be taken to the tailor to be hemmed? Will your bejeweled cardigan sweater be ready at the cleaners in time for the holiday party? Or do you need to stock up on more Spanx undergarments after that last cup of eggnog with brandy? Whatever the case may be, the sooner you finalize an outfit that will work at the office but still be easily jazzed up for the party, the better you’re going to feel!
After you have figured out what you are going to wear the day of the work/holiday party, there’s the prep work. In other words, what are the logistics of making these outfits successful on that day? Since you want to bring a clutch bag to the party and yet don’t want to leave your large (expensive) everyday work handbag at the office, it might be a good idea to let go of your diehard fashionista on that day and instead place only what you need for the day/night activities (including the evening clutch) in a lightweight, convenient, inexpensive reusable tote bag and bring that to the office with you on the day of the party. There are several brands and styles to choose from.
Include any extra clothing pieces or festive accessories that you will need to take your look from the office to the holiday party. Put together a fashion emergency kit and include your evening makeup and application brushes plus nail polish for potential last minute touch ups. You may wish to include a small hand held mirror to be able to check out the backside of your hair or to double-check the fit of your outfit. Band-Aids, Q-tips, deodorant, toothbrush and perfume are a few other helpful items to place into your kits. And if you have extra time to style your hair before the party, you may also want to stick in your curling or flat iron into your reusable tote bag. Cell phone battery, a hostess gift, a donation check, etcetera are other items for consideration. Try to complete your party bag and fashion emergency kit the night before so that you are not rushing out the door in the morning and just throwing anything and everything into your tote.
I can sense it in the air…people want to have lots of fun right now…escape (just a little). Having fun with your personal style is a great way to add to the fun especially during the holidays. Thank goodness, there are plenty of ways to make an outfit go from the office to the party without completely changing your entire look!
A simple and yet very successful way to do this is to have the foundation of your holiday outfit be flattering, quality staple pieces. This can vary per person. It can be a suit for one professional woman while jeans and sweater are the staple dress code requirements for another woman. But the principals remain the same. Designer Clare Waight Keller of Pringle of Scotland did an exquisite job showcasing these silhouettes with her Fall 2009 Collection. In these particular cases, all you would need to do is add some bling to take the ensemble from work to party. It could be a bold statement necklace or and a long colorful, vibrant drop earrings combined with stacks of complimentary bracelets. This would also be the perfect time to pull out that ornate belt that you found at a remote vintage shop across town years ago. The one where you just couldn’t help yourself! Even replacing the black shoes in Clare’s ensembles with a lush red pair or in effervescent blue would be an easy way to add some party pizzazz to these outfits. Starting with some solid basic pieces that you already have in your work wardrobe, however formal or informal it might be, is a fast and effective way to jumpstart your holiday party outfits straight from work.
Another uncomplicated way to modify your work outfit and make it your new holiday party outfit is to simply add one unique and special occasion piece. Don’t make this harder on yourself than you need too!!! Again, Pringle of Scotland effortlessly adds a sequined cardigan with plaid trouser pants, while designer Douglas Hannant adds a sophisticated black silk blouse underneath a modern timeless work suit and fashion designer (and JCrew alum), Chris Benz, takes a classic pair of dress pants to another level with his metallic foiled blue leather blazer jacket. This look could easily be accomplished to dress up a pair of jeans, as well. Instantly festive and fun!
Another speedy way to take your work attire and make it party appropriate is to incorporate pieces that serve a dual purpose. For instance, buy pieces that you can mix and match to create various outfits that will support different aspects of your life. Italian designer Maurizio Pecoraro showcases these gorgeous nail studded suits in his Fall 2009 Collections. Yes, nail studded! He even included a metallic thread woven pencil skirt. Obviously, these design details do not suit everyone’s lifestyle but the idea is that because these pieces already have the Wow! factor built right into them. They can easily be dressed up or dressed down depending upon the occasion. This instant, fabulous style coordinating tactic can be done with a blouse, a pair of shoes or a cardigan as demonstrated earlier. This list goes on. Many options are out there for you to choose from. Just one Wow! item can style an outfit in a whole new way.
The same idea continues here that if you change one piece in your outfit, you can easily wear it from the office to a holiday party. In these particular examples, all that was added were shiny, silky fabrics that you wouldn’t normally wear to work on a regular business. These radiating materials instantly add glam to any outfit. In Vera Wang‘s Lavender Label she simply added a pair of festive shiny purple capri pants while Mr. Oscar de la Renta‘s bold silk red blouse gracefully transitions this outfit from a work suit to a party ensemble in no time at all. Yes, incorporating the metallic handbag and shoes takes the outfit to another party level but the real outfit changer is the festive red shimmering blouse.
So far, my suggestions have been ways to take your work outfit (start point) and switch it into a holiday party look (end point). Here are some examples of ways to take a dressier piece of clothing and make it more casual for work. This approach would be to, instead, begin with the end point and take it back to the start point. For instance, perhaps your LBD isn’t as sexy as Donatella Versace‘s (or if it is you probably wouldn’t wear it to work), however, the addition of the rough black leather jacket takes this dressier dress and tones it down giving it a more casual appearance that may work perfectly for your office look on the day of your holiday party. This formal and informal mix of design pieces is very helpful information that she provides.
Vera Wang validates this styling method as well. She designed and styled this beautiful graphic patterned dress, kept the dressier party jewelry on during the daytime, and then combined it with a classic blazer jacket which gives the overall impression of an appropriate business casual ensemble. Then simply take off the blazer when the clock strikes 5pm, throw on a pair of platform pumps and you’re all set for your party. With the blue dress, designer Vera Wang again styles the outfit with casual flat riding boots which is so apropos for the daytime for a casual work environment and then all one would need to do is throw on a sexy pair of high heels and Voila! Instant glam! And finally, Clare Waight Keller of Pringle of Scotland shows us that throwing on a casual long sweater over a silk blend party dress easily makes our party attire work appropriate.
Another styling method of converting a work outfit to a party outfit or vice versa is to incorporate traditional holiday colors into the core ensemble and then also taking advantage of some of the other styling techniques discussed previously like adding a casual long sweater over a dressier silk dress. Here are some color suggestions this holiday season:
And, of course, we cannot forget to talk about accessories! Like so many of you, j’adore shoes, jewelry and all things glitzy. The holidays are the perfect time to indulge in these girlish fetes. Bejewel, bedazzle, sparkle and embellish your outfits to your hearts content. Go for it! This season, contemporary designs using rhinestones is a very sought after trend. These pieces can be worn to accessorize dressier outfits but they are also used to glam up a more casual outfit. It is the same idea as the mixing of ‘high’ and ‘low’ price point items in one outfit yet this time you are mixing ‘dressy’ with ‘casual’ pieces. The choice is yours. Of course, you don’t have to wear rhinestones. Mixed metals are a big hit too. Select jewelry, handbags, hosiery, belts, gloves – all types of accessories – that bring a smile to your face and lift your energy, especially needed after a long day’s work, so that you will feel refreshed for your holiday party. Here are some original ideas from designers:
Finally, I want to leave you with another quick and successful way to easily transition your work outfit to a festive holiday outfit. Modify your beauty routine – wear a little bit more makeup than you normally do on a daily basis, so that it will highlight your facial features better under the nighttime lights; change up your daily makeup routine by adding a different eye shadow or lipstick color palette or take part in a new fun and flattering makeup application technique; and/or wear your hair differently than you regularly do. Either figure out a way to do a quick hair updo on yourself like a low loose romantic chignon or a style that creates volume on the top and is sleeked in on the sides creating a sexy vibe; add curl to your otherwise straight hair; or even simply part your hair differently than usual – perhaps a deep side part that centers at the arch of your brow. You will be amazed at how much of a noticeable change this simple hair part styling technique creates. Your peers will know something is different but won’t quite be able to put their fingers on what the specific change is.
So, after you get your holiday party invite but before the morning of your event, take a little bit of time to put together an outfit that will not only work well during the day at the office but, will also, changeover well for the party with only a few quick, fast and easy tricks of the trade that you now have up your sleeve. It is worth pre-planning your fashion objectives, tactics and techniques ahead of time so that when you do finally walk through the doors to see your family, friends and/or colleagues, you have successfully left all your stress at the door including fretting over your personal holiday attire; and instead you can now relax and fully engage in the holiday festivities – joyfully!
As usual, I look forward to hearing from you, my loyal (and any new) readers. Share some of your fast fashion techniques to get ready for a holiday party following a long day at the office. Are any of the suggestions above helpful in de-stressing you as you think about your party events? If so, which ones?