By Sharon Mosley
New Year’s Eve calls for dressing in a special way. We all want to look our best, especially during the holidays, and that calls for wearing clothes that fit the bodies we have. Some of my favorite fashion experts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, who hosted TLC’s “What Not to Wear” for years, have a lot to say about what to wear for the holidays.
“What we’ve learned is that looking good now will help you feel better later,” says the dynamic duo in their now-classic fashion guide, “Dress Your Best” (Three Rivers Press), which features different body types of 26 women and men and delivers valuable fashion advice for dressing your body the way it is now — not after you lose those ten pounds.
“We’ve seen it hundreds of times,” says London. “Don’t wait for what may or may not change about you in the future. You are perfect now.”
So now that you’re in that celebratory mood and ready to attack the buffet tables, here’s some timeless tips from London and Kelly for guys and gals who want to look great for all those holiday parties.
FOR THE GALS
–First and foremost, a tank dress with an A-line skirt is a universally flattering silhouette, regardless of body type. It is particularly flattering for a bustier body type, as it allows for a thicker-strap supportive bra.
–When wearing black and white for evening, try clear jewelry: rhinestones, crystals or our favorite diamonds! Clear stones are eternally chic and don’t compete with the bold contrast of black and white.
–Love that sleeveless dress but feel self-conscious about showing your upper arms? Try a wrap. Some now come with sleeves, but make sure the wrap doesn’t compete with the pattern of the dress.
–A pointy-toe shoe with a kitten heel is perfect with any hem length. Who wants to look like they’re walking on stilts?
–Metallic shoes are a must-have in every closet for evening — but don’t be afraid to wear them during the day!
–Color is a wonderful option for cocktail hour — rather than the ubiquitous black. If you’ve got pale skin, go with lighter colors; if you have darker skin, go brighter.
–When trying to detract from the midsection, think about wearing your hair up for the evening, add some chandelier earrings and lengthen your neckline!
–Try mixing textures for a sophisticated evening look. If you are wearing a dress with sheen to it, do a matte wrap or coat. Or wear a dress with no sheen and top it with a metallic brocade coat or one with lots of sparkly embellishment.
–While trends come and go, black never goes out of style. Sometimes, just black looks just perfect.
–Embellishment (beading, sequins, rhinestones) on clothing has been very popular the last few seasons. We feel a couple of embellished pieces for evening are a staple of any woman’s wardrobe. They’re always useful for a little “bling” and quite often negate the necessity for additional jewelry.
— Have only a few pieces you like to wear for evening. Make sure they fit as well as possible. Then change them up with fun accessories such as shawls, wraps, vintage costume jewelry and fabulous shoes!
FOR THE GUYS
–If you’re doing evening in a situation where a tie is not required, add interest to your outfit somehow, whether it’s with a patterned shirt or pocket square or both.
–Make sure the color of your belt matches your shoes. Match your socks to your trousers, not your shoe — except when you’re wearing jeans. Then you can match the sock to the shoe.
–Velvet is a luxurious option for winter. When mixing it, you need to do so with similar-weight fabrics such as denim, wool or more velvet.
–The tuxedo jacket is a chic option for nighttime and creates a streamlined look. Try wearing it with a striped shirt and a dark wide-leg jean for a modern, casual look.
–Wear an untucked shirt for a casual evening event, and leave the jacket open. Keep the shirt untucked, but be careful with the length. Any lower than the bottom of the crotch and you might look like you’re wearing a dress.
–Never button the bottom button of your suit jacket.
–Avoid the “catalog” sweater at all costs. You know it when you see it: man and woman sitting in a ski lodge by a roaring fire, sipping cognac, wearing chunky (usually red) sweaters. It’s universally unflattering — especially for barrel-chested men. The last thing you need is a humongous wool sweater adding bulk to your upper body.
–The topcoat is a wardrobe essential for dressy occasions. Buy the best one you can afford and think of it as an investment in style.
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PHOTO CAPTION: Velvet is a holiday favorite. Teal skinny fit velvet jacket by Casely Hayford at Nordstrom. www.nordstrom.com.