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Photo Credit : Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair

The Diane Keaton

She wore her own clothes to the shoot. She styled her self exactly as she would on a day off camera. And she smiled.

It comes from a place of effortlessness and confidence. She knows that her presence is enough. She steals my gaze away from the other exceptionally gorgeous women.

This photo captures my take on modern holiday dressing.

Rules  Idiosyncrasies of Holiday Dressing

The anti-rules

Ground Rule :
DRESS FOR YOURSELF

Ignore fashion. Ignore the IT girl of the moment. For a moment, forget the stereotypical party wear women are expected to wear – bandage dresses, high heels, sequins, ‘fun’ prints, catchy colors, leather pants, …..  Ignore the opinions of the average person in the room. Ignore the opinions of the fashion editors who know it all. Channel the boldness of Georgia O’Keefee. She would have worn exactly want she wanted and been comfortable in the rooms she walked into.

To do : Don’t scan the room after you get to the party to see if you are dressed okay. Everyone else is overdressed or underdressed. You left the house wearing what you like. That is all that matters.

Cast your self as the lead role in your movie. Step into it.

Rule 2.

IGNORE THE OLD STYLE RULES. 

Women being out cold. Women in uncomfortable shoes. Women who have a limited range of motion because the garment restricts them. All in the name of an expectation of dressy dictated by some archaic rules of femininity. We can choose if that term is relevant to us in this day and age. We can choose what we consider feminine for ourselves.

To Do: Jeans are okay. Ballet flats are okay. T-shrits are also okay. (Just not all 3 together ). Clothes that you need a special bra and fashion tape to stay on ? There are other garments that are easier to wear. Don’t care for a dress ? Wear the pants with a dressier blouse. A tuxedo shirt looks as good on women as the men folk. Isabel Marant does these stunning embroidered/studded/feminine accented blouses. Wear an evening jacket with trousers and heels. Wear a suit if that is what you want to wear.

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Rule 3. 

NO TO PICTURE PERFECTION.

Evening wear is derived from the way the royals dressed for court, the movie stars dressed for the red carpet and the celebrities dress for the camera. We see enough media images of women with hand held bags, not a hair out of place and faces painted like dolls. There is no need for that. We are good enough the way we are naturally. Red carpet images and celebrity photoshoots are not the standard I aspire to. And if a camera does appear and try to capture the moment, smile and pose. It will all work out in the end.

To do : Keep it simple. No need to erase the scars on the face. No to flat ironing the hair. We do not have to sacrifice comfort for style. Find the balance.

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Rule 4.

IT HAS TO COME FROM A PLACE OF EFFORTLESSNESS 

If something does not sit right on the body, take it off. If something doesn’t feel right, take it off. Nothing is worse than wobbling along the floor or fidgeting or constantly checking in the mirror for faults or standing stiff at a party. They say : before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one accessory off. Subtract. Simplify. Wear clothes in which you can move. No to costumes that are un-necessary and impractical.

To do : Dress up your everyday garments. I also like the idea of wearing my most worn and my most fav garments from the year during the holidays. Sort of like a finale where the MVPs get the center stage.

Rule 5.

CHOOSE SEDUCTIVE.

In the way I dress, I pick seductive over sexy. I am done with wearing those sequin dresses, strapless dresses in the winter, bandage dresses, high heels, … an idea of sexy that came to us from the porn industry. I find the current state of garments labelled sexy, both liberating and objectifying. Liberating because we get to choose what makes us feel sexy and can wear garments that are bold by some old fashioned idea of modesty. Objectifying because it clings to an idea of what women’s body should look like – the right curves accentuated, the tummies tucked in, the right way to do naked, ….  Not something I want to do. I choose seductive over sexy.

To do: A flash of skin. A silhouette. Trousers that make the lines of my legs longer. A red lipstick. Collar bones. Bare skin that glows.

Rule 6.

CHOOSE CHIC.

If my blog was a broken record, it would keep repeating ‘chic’ over and over again. Choose understated elegance. Choose the humble every day beauty.

Rule 7.

CHOOSE WHAT TO SHOW.

A jumpsuit with a pair of heels that shows the long legs.

A full sleeved short shift dress that shows the toned legs.

A dress that shows the the shoulder blades.

A shirt unbuttoned a notch down.

A shirt dress unbuttoned at the bottom to show some leg when you sit down and cross your legs.

A backless dress.

A wispy silk dress that glides on the body and moves as you do.

All covered up but that smokey eye with bold lashes.

Clever use of leather accents – perhaps the straps of the dress or as a belt with a bold buckle or knee high boots polished to perfection …

Clever use of lace.

A long skirt with a slit.

Lingerie that peaks out tastefully.

Rule 8.

MASCULINE ELEMENTS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS THE FEMININE. 

Us women can pretty much wear anything (or atleast if you live in certain parts of the world). But seem to forget it all come next wedding to attend. When going to a fancy party, the pressure of old school femininity usually dictates our choices.

To do : Support the women who choose to not go the traditional route.

Rule 9.

ENJOY THE PROCESS. 

Let there be music. Always get dressed for a party with something breathtaking playing in the background. It sets the mood. Choosing the costume and getting dressed are as pleasurable as wearing the garment for the rest of the evening. No need to hurry into it and throw something on before bolting out of the door. May I suggest Max Richer’s Spring 1 for one of your evenings ? Play it loudly. Try on the garments and check for the lines your clothes make on you in a mirror. Put on the perfume. Put on the jewels. Put on a lipstick. Let the man in your life watch and wait. Take a mirror selfie before you head out. Life can be short, future unpredictable. Savor the moments.

Rule 10.

GET THE UNDERPINNINGS RIGHT. 

For comfort. Or to feeling powerful. There is something about wearing beautiful lace underneath that makes me feel dressed up even when wearing the most understated garments on top.

To do : own a matching set – the most delicate, the one that feels great to touch and looks incredible. Its the first thing you put on and the last garment you take off at the end of the night. It definitely matters.

Rule 11.

AN ELEMENT OF SURPRISE AND GLAMOUR. 

I have no idea how. But I have some ideas.

An unexpected shoe ? A red shoe. A pink shoe. Hiking boots with a dress. …. They way Jane Birkin showed up everywhere with her wicker basket. A true original. The way Audrey popularized ballet flats in a time when block heels were the norm. Thank you Audrey.

Glamour ? The jewellry helps. A cape ? A scarf tied in unexpected ways ? An interesting drape. Hair up in a knot with an exposed back ? An overly done face ?

Need to work this out.

Rule 12.

MONOCHROME. 

Think of it as being cast in a Peter Lindbergh’s photograph. We all have our unique features and a natural beauty. Let it shine. No need for all the additional competing details.

To – do : Don’t let them convince me that monochrome is boring. Its poetic. Wear the little blue dress. Accessorize it or not. Wear that turtle neck and with a skirt or trousers. Add that one unexpected accent if possible.

Rule 13.

RED

In what ever dosage. Just the lips. As a blouse. As a skirt. A dress. A gown. A dinner jacket.

To do : If wearing red, try this prance before you leave the house.

Rule 14.

IF YOU WEAR A UNIFORM, DON IT WITH PRIDE. 

No need to wear a costume that is not applicable just to fit in.

Stay true to your style. A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.

Have a few go-to combinations/outfits. Repeat them every year for a stress free holiday season.

To do : Learn to say no.

 

 

Some of my favorite looks on Pinterest.

Some festive second-hand finds : Blouse by Chloe, Red dress by Calvin Klien, Red sweater dress by Jill Stuart, Cocktail ring by Ippolita, station necklace by Ippolita, Silk navy evening jacket. Helmut Lang knows how to cut a red tailored blazer.

 


Question of the Week :

What do these words mean to you in the context of holiday dressing ?

Glamour. Seductive. Sexy. Fun. Daring. Original. Dressy.