They are here. The holidays. Regardless of what you celebrate this time of year – the holidays are here. Are you planning to host a party or attend some? What about New Year’s Eve – will you finally get to throw on some sparkle to ring in the New Year? We can only hope 2022 brings with it new hope for a year of connection. So, what to wear for the holidays?
As an Image Consultant and Stylist, I have heard from my clients – this year more than ever – they have lots of doubts about what to wear. Let’s face it, the party clothes in their closet have gathered dust. For many, they no longer fit. So whether you’re ready to pull out some favorite pieces or excited to buy a few new things, I am here to share what to wear for the holidays in 2021!
It always starts with personal branding – who you are and how you want to show up in the world, but it’s also helpful to know the trends. So let’s take a look…
On Trend: What to Wear for the 2021-22 Holiday Season
Here are my favorite trends for the holidays this year:
Red is a classic choice for the holiday season. Here in Washington, it’s the one time of year that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike wear red! In deference to the season, and the cultural tradition of Christmas. Plus, most of us look great in this color! That’s one reason red is so popular. There are other reasons. Red is a powerful color in many cultures around the world, including ours.
Faux fur feels luxurious while being humane and sustainability-conscious. Honestly, it can be hard to tell the difference anymore — so why not make the humane choice? Plus, it’s less expensive! This season, you can find faux fur in just about everything – including bras, gloves, shoes, bags, skirts, dresses, tops, jackets and coats – well just about anything.
Sequins used to be a little bit kitsch – like Christmas! But I think it’s safe to say that they have made it into the mainstream, and are now seen on some rather elegant items of clothing. However, this is the one time of year when you don’t even have to guess — sequins are completely on point. Pair them with items that either dress them up or down. Planning what to wear for the holidays? This season, you could even pair sequins with jeans for your daytime parties or brunch with friends.
There is nothing more elegant than the shades of white that reflect all the subtle variations of winter. Wear that color head to toe for the most refined ensemble imaginable (most of us don’t have the nerve for head-to-toe white — we dread the dry cleaning bill! — but it is definitely a statement color). Winter white speaks of snowy hillsides, and bare tree branches set against steel-gray skies. There is no higher elegance than winter white when you’re considering what to wear for the holidays.
Leather and Pleather
Leather adds texture. If you have worked with me you know I talk a lot about leveraging the elements of art and design in how to dress. Texture is one of these elements. Leather is a fabric that introduces such texture into your wardrobe. These days, exotic leathers are a little taboo (think endangered species!). But the faux version – pleather – can be as beautiful as the real thing. And like faux fur it’s great for our budgets, too!
We can’t forget about accessorizing during the holiday season especially when it comes to jewelry. Long chandelier earrings that are lightweight and dramatic add a statement to any outfit. Chunky jewelry is also on trend and will definitely upgrade your holiday style. All things bling are in style and especially combining pearls with diamonds in new and unusual ways. Choker necklaces are back and oh so fashionable. Statement rings can really spice up your look. If you’ve been following the trends you know for a few years the ultra chic have been wearing mismatched earrings. As common in the fashion industry they have ramped it up a bit. Now we are seeing just one statement earring. If you are bold and sassy I dare you to dorn this look.
I place metallic-toned fabrics solidly in the category of what to wear for the holidays. Metallics are party clothes! While this is not always true, I tend to think the people who wear metallics in other contexts skew younger generation. They might pair it with metallic nail polish, and maybe even lipstick. Probably skinny jeans up to this point – now on their their way out – replaced with a micro mini or leather pants. Metallics make me think mainly of confetti, which we only use for celebrations! So when you put it on your body it usually signals that you’re planning for a good time; and might even end the evening dancing on a table somewhere. On the other end of the social spectrum, you could be headed for one of Washington’s famous political galas. Metallics will serve you well either way!
In some cultures, lace never goes out of fashion. Think West Africa. But here at home, it comes and goes. This year, however, lace is very fashionable. As in the past, a lot of lace is used in layering, incorporated into multi layered garments, or worn as a sort of jerkin over top. Worthy of note: this Balenciaga “black lace dress” apparently stole the show on the 2022 runways (but isn’t exactly what I mean when I invite you to consider lace for your 2021/22 holiday wardrobe)! Lace can be the ultimate statement in femininity and, in my view, can always be tasteful when you’re pondering what to wear for the holidays.
America loves jumpsuits! That’s just the way it is. For my generation, it may have started with Charlie’s Angels, but jumpsuits have come and gone ever since. They are back this year. Maybe I love them so much because they are flattering on just about every woman! If you don’t own one give it a try, it might be just the look you need this holiday season.
For more casual events, denim skirts are very trendy this season. Here’s more on what was seen on the runways last fall for this 2021-22 fashion season.
If you love your legs and aren’t afraid to show them, micro mini skirts with knee-high boots are hot! For a subtle version of this look, pair your micro mini with dark tights and boots. You will look stylish and hip without feeling too over the top.
Velvet has been in style for several seasons. Like faux fur, you can find them in everything from shoes to coats and it isn’t just for the evening. Did you know the fabric we call velvet originated in Eastern culture in the 13th Century, and has never really gone out of style! It was originally made from silk thread.
For me, velvet as clothing (as opposed to drapes, for example) still evokes images of Queen Elizabeth I weighed down in layers and layers of heavy fabric (which must also have been very expensive at the time!) As with all things fashion, as time went on, velvet became more accessible.
Every little girl of my generation once enjoyed dressing up in soft velvet or velveteen. Those dresses went along with our little patent leather shoes! Do you remember that? I associate velvet with dressing up, going out in wintertime, church, dress-up parties, and more. If this soft fabric makes you happy, get your velvet on this holiday season!
Embellished pumps are super fun! The words “fancy feet” come to mind. I think of Ginger Rogers and the era of musical comedies. But embellished pumps are very much back. These are shoes made purely for fun — not for work, or church (IMHO). These are shoes for parties! Parties and galas and dances and receptions where you want to bling out in style.
Pearls are perhaps the most classic item of clothing I can think of. Every woman can wear pearls to her advantage, and many of us do. They have survived as a fashion “trend” down through the generations. But this season we’re not talking about your Grandmother’s pearls. They are hip and unusual. They are real, cultured and faux and they are fun.
You might be noticing a theme: metallics, sequins, and now bling. Maybe we are just ready to get out of the house, get out of our sweats and slippers, and shine! So go for it. Don’t be afraid to sparkle and shine this holiday season.
Sustainable fashion is huge right now. I think the awareness of the issue — that the fashion industry is a HUGE contributor to global warming — has reached a tipping point. People know it now. So we recognize the impact our individual choices actually have on the planet, and many of us are making different, conscious choices.
So, for those of you who think about the people who made your clothes, and about how long those clothes will last before you have to send them to the landfill, holiday shopping can still be “sustainable.”
For one thing, you don’t have to buy everything new! With all the resale and freecycle options on the market today, you can get virtually anything that suits your taste – including new and barely worn designer labels – some with the tags still on! One of my favorites is Thred-up. I shop there year round for my private clients. Rent the Runway is another great sustainable option for the holidays!
You could also consider some Social Enterprise brands when you’re thinking about what to wear for the holidays. Social enterprises are for-profit companies that were founded to have a specific social impact, and whose profits also benefit the social mission.
What you’re going to wear is obviously not the most important thing on your mind this holiday season! You’ll hopefully be tucked in with family and friends, seeing some of them for the first time in a couple of years.
You’re maybe returning to your places of worship, going out to brunch with friends, scheduling playdates for your young ones, letting your teens congregate. Maybe, like me you’ve decided to embrace this darn pandemic and you’re traveling this holiday season?!
Whatever you do, may it be joyous, and may it fill your cup so that you start 2022 on a high note, full of optimism and strong intentions!