Outfit formulas for the holiday season
Welcome to the Thanksgiving-through-Christmas dressing extravaganza
The most intimate holiday parties take place in one of three places during the holiday season: at your place, at someone you know’s place, or out, but with a small group — “out” could mean at a restaurant or some other kind of venue that probably has carpets.
I specify “intimate” in relation to these parties because they seem like the most important ones to dress for — the ones where you actually care to, or straight up want to take off your armor (without physically undressing, unless, live naked!) and connect to the conversation that is under the convo — in the joviality of the season’s spirit, with people whose company you enjoy.
How you dress will not inform whether it is possible at all to unclench and open up in this way, but it can help get you into the right frame of mind. When you’re dressed like an honest version of you that you can both admire and feel pretty proud of, it’s like you become a container that is bigger than you were, open and ready to let new stuff (feelings) in.
There are 3-4 formulas I abide by when dressing for an event that calls for a dress code.
The formulas go like this:
Base outfit (e.g. top/bottom) rendered in the dress code in question (so in this instance, it’s “holiday season attire”), extremities (so like, accessories) rendered in contrast (the contrast here would be toned down basics/neutrals):
Contrasting base (so, neutral outfit), dress code extremities (so holiday party accessories)
2:1, dress code to contrast
2:1, contrast to dress code
And then there is the equal dose of both.
Next, you’re going to want to apply your choice ratio to the event you’re dressing for.
For parties at home, my favorite formula is 2:1 in the favor of the dress code — it’s easy to take a risk within the comfort of my own place, and dressing for parties and being home is an entertaining challenge to rise to. Here’s what I wore last Fri night:
Another good option:
For parties at someone else’s place, one thing is of particular importance to me, which is how the outfit will look with no shoes on, so I dress according to that assumed bar and find coming up with two options — one for pants and one for short things often serves me best.
For parties out, the stakes are diff. It’s almost easier to consider what you will wear because you’re on neutral territory. It’s easier but doesn’t always yield as poignant a result. The options are many more, and because of this, you might that its easier for decision paralysis to water down what you set out to accomplish. If you’re in the mood to feel good in your clothes, just pretend you’re going to a friend’s house. If you kind of don’t care about what you’re wearing for whatever the reason, you’re in luck! Ppl prob won’t notice much anyway.
Some other recent outfit ideas I’ve had:
After putting this together and then running through it one last time before publication, the last thing I’ll say (which is probably also kind of the only thing I’m actually saying) on this topic is that it seems like you can basically make any outfit a holiday party outfit by adding a black velvet bow.
Isn’t that a load off?
Ok! If this is where I leave you, happy Thanksgiving! And also…thank you, so much, for choosing to be here, in these emails, making the weekly, anchoring ritual of putting them together seem to me so worth it.
I have gotten to know a number of you and am blown away by how natural it has been to connect — on the clothes, absolutely, but also on books and recipes and the spiritual matter that seems to be exploding, in one way or another, out of many of us these days.
It all feels a bit like the beginning of Man Repeller in that the promise of a shared sense of humanity — of a lovely relationship — among virtual strangers is reinforced with every comment or e-mail reply that is sent. I love doing this so much and that is 10/10 because of your trust.
No Letter of Rec this Fri, but here’s the gift guide from last week in case you missed it, and I will see you back here next week for adventures in, probably, sweater/pant combos and some thoughts on belts. Thank you, thank you, thank you again.
Signing off yours,
And now, your cheatsheet*
*The important takeaways from this post:
It is very, very okay to recycle complete holiday looks on a per-annum basis.