The holiday dressing menu, 2023
What to wear in December
December is basically a season unto itself. The post-fall, pre-winter holiday season with its own unique dress code (slap a feather or a sequin on!) and behavioral guidelines (have cheer!), with its energy so overwhelming and seductive, it’s easy to get swept up in it.
It’s also the worst time of year to think practically — to update your style or shop for the bones of your wardrobe, the things you buy to keep forever. This is because it’s a season that is kind of suspended in frivolity, which is fine if you’re a fan of the suspension (see: the shopping section in this multipurpose post) or if you plan to repeat the same menu every year (it works) as far as your dressing recipes go.
But if you crave something else from what your existing wardrobe gives to you (even if just a minor update) and know better than to shop for the tiny season we’re in (hard for me; I’m a true sag), what do you wear for the 34th time you’ve ventured around the sun for the holidays?
If I’m being honest, I myself don’t really know what to wear lately. Nothing feels right, which I mean so genuinely. It’s like I’m clear on the sense I want to touch into but every time I try while getting dressed, it comes up flat, or incoherent.
I labored over the looks you’ll see in this post for a solid 4 days, first slapping sequins and crowns, a dash of red or feathers onto my everyday outfits:
Sequins, crowns, panels of feathers over regular clothes
But something about it wasn’t right (except for the one time that Madeline snuck into the back of a pic). Not wrong, just…beside the gut feeling. Then I thought that maybe this year it’s more simple than I think. Maybe I just want to look festive.
Unapologetic party clothes
Plain and simple, no style hacks, tricks or mental frills.
Just balls to the walls festive.
Absolutely no pants
Perhaps even…deceivingly festive.
Now, I thought, I’m getting somewhere. I can’t wear these looks on the subway per se, but they more acutely capture the spirit I’m after. They reflect the suspension!
I’m craving more fun, even fantasy, and I’m not sure how exactly that will play out but these are the closest passes so far.
Call them a temporary lift off the ground.
To the final point in the caption above, I just had this idea:
Dialed down, but still kind of dressed up
But as far as actually leaving the corner in my living room where I take pics for this newsletter, the formula I find myself turning to most includes something black and mini styled over sheer tights with metallic (or colored) sandals.
Unless I’m playing with longer silhouettes. I like to think of these more as suggestions for what to wear when you want to look like a holiday party host (and will not omit pants):
But the elephant owning this room is definitely the tight-to-the-forehead black headband, which, in the last two weeks, has turned everything I wear into a holiday look in its own right.
With supporting cast members, like 👆🏻 a long necklace or waist belt.
There is a broader 70s thing going on for sure — you can smell it in the air with all the untreated suede and brown pants/sweaters/coats. The undercurrent of this macro shift must be inclining me towards this one cue pulled from the Bardot playbook.
It’s like instant holiday cool with the simplest looks. I’m talking sweater and trousers,
T-neck and mini,
A tunic and nothing else.
Except red tights and shoes !or pants!
That match. Pants that might the tights. Which is def the other thing.
If you got a pair last year when we broke them down, it’s a good time to bring them out. They’ve been a good work horse this month, and will prob continue to pull their weight into the winter (though recently, I’m craving other colors).
They’re good styled under non-clingy things too, like corduroys (as seen earlier this week), jeans,
or your overalls:
Nice with something sheer over too, which actually brings me to other carryover workhorse — white tights. They work the same way: styled under pants, or with metallic sandals
But I have to say, I’m most intrigued by how they look with dressy flats like those grosgrain Row bow ones in the headband series or these satin ones below —
With bonus points for something sheer things styled over them. (Most of my sheer dresses are actually the overlays of other dresses — if you have any, you should try this!)
Alternatively, you can match white shoes to your white tights.
Remember when it used to be a thing to not wear white shoes after Labor Day? Lol.
As far as proper socks (as opposed to tights) go, I’m thinking: if The Row’s Spring 24 lookbook had a baby with Chanel’s Metiers d’Art 2017 show
It could be the deranged look of Dec. 2023.
…Nope, not good. I defer back to pantslessness.
This time with two layers of sequins.
It’s looking more like all black all the time for these days. But no effort exerted for this exercise has yielded more satisfying an outcome than after I realized I could style a pair of flare leggings under a knee-length straight skirt and call it Alaia.
Save for the moment on Wednesday of earlier this week when I remembered that the easiest and most satisfying holiday dressing recipe is still no more or less complicated than your regular clothes with some dramatic jewelry over it.