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Holiday Fashion

Create some drama this holiday season
Author: Jennifer Schembri
Photographer: Lauren Hayes
4 years ago
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By Jennifer Schembri
Creative Direction by Sabine Main
Photographs by Lauren Hayes
Set assistant is Kay Pollock
Fashion Styling by Elaine Chatwood
Hair by POP Hair Gallery (Carla)
Make-up by Kelly Spinarsky
Models in this story are Sylvia, Ned, Victoria, Angie
Location Retro Suites, Chatham

As the holiday season approaches and 2019 draws to a close, our calendars are most likely chock-full of seasonal soirees, from office gatherings to black-tie affairs. The runways have spoken and announced a juxtaposition of the uber-feminine and super cool—a balance of romantic and modern. But don’t fret: you can refrain from dressing in the same formulaic style as last season thanks to an abundance of choices from some of the city’s most fashionable retailers.

Ruffles assert their dominance by way of necklines and sleeves, while lady-like flourishes like bows adorn everything from statement blouses and frocks or as sweet embellishments on hair accessories.

Looking to stand out? Embrace the feather craze. This winter, multicoloured plumage was spotted on trouser trims, collars, and cuffs and as decoration on tiny clutches and enormous totes.

Continuing with the romantic theme, delicate, lush fabrics like velvet dominate the catwalks from the likes of Tom Ford and Paco Rabanne, while lace gets an update by way of girlie dresses in no-nonsense shades of pewter, ink black, and gunmetal.

Fashion loves the ’70s right now, and we are seeing a chic revival in the form of lurex, bell sleeves, and wide-leg trousers. The holidays are just the time to channel the It Girl of the disco decade, Bianca Jagger, in a classic silhouette. Trend forecasts indicate that for a modern take on the traditional evening gown, all styles of jumpsuits—whether slouchy or strapless, cropped or flared—are a must in hard-to-miss hues and plunging necklines.

Rethink the classic little black dress and switch up your all-black winter palette. Flashes of shimmery metallics in stand-out shades of silver, gold, and cobalt blue crafted as cocktail dresses, trousers, and handbags are a more subdued choice than sequins for your festive excursions of the season.

Anything but frumpy is another burgeoning trend for eveningwear: ankle-grazing hemlines in distinctive, hourglass silhouettes create an elegant, elongated torso and remain relevant for all age groups.

And when it comes to accessories, it’s all about adding a Midas touch. Ornate pops of gold encompass everything from extravagant beaded clutches and Byzantine-inspired belts, while dainty, minimalist jewelry moves aside for all things chunky and stacked.

Nothing sets the sartorial tone for men’s holiday fashion like a great suit. Take it from menswear designer extraordinaire, Tom Ford, who recently told GQ, “It gives you a shape. It gives you a shoulder. It gives you a chest and a waist. You look better in a suit. It’s all one colour, so you look taller. It’s still, for me, the most flattering thing a man can wear.”

The new tailoring is all about sharp looks and a return to elegance, thanks to structured jackets in glinting noirs and rich, retro-driven browns in shades of chestnut and mocha. 

Spotted on tuxedo jackets and blazers in subdued shades of midnight blue to bold burgundy, the introduction of fancy fabrics like velvet, brocade, and jacquard are the holiday season’s answer to texture, while stripes galore—think pinstripes for formalwear and classic Breton stripes for basics—are a mainstay on chunky knits and polos.

A great way to keep it minimal but to still show some creativity: earth-coloured, small-scale geometric prints are perfect for the man who is looking for a button-down with a little more narrative—an edgy alternative to the ubiquitous white dress shirt. Pair with distressed boots for a punchy update.

The Gala

Some things never go out of style, and the strapless dress is one of them. Cobalt blue metallic gown by Wayne Clarke ($2295): at Raffinée. Earring ($180); rings ($218); bracelet ($115); feather clutch ($110): all available at Savvy Boutique.
Hogl peep-toe pumps ($299): available at Shoe Box.

Modern fit and style meets traditional tailoring in this Paul Betenly super 120’s wool suit ($590); Lugano shirt ($65); Lindemann belt ($95); Johnston & Murphy shoe ($215); 7 Downie St. polka-dot bow tie and pocket square ($60); Knotz skinny silk tie ($50); Knotz pocket square ($20); available at 67 Richmond.

A throwback to the ’70s, this silk velvet jumpsuit by Nöelziñia ($470) gives the evening gown a modern makeover: available at Windblown & Weathered Studio, Gallery Shoppe. Earring ($22); bracelets—bangle ($145) or stacked ($22-$32): available at Savvy Boutique.
Kendall + Kylie velvet lace-up ankle boots ($280): available at Shoe Box.

Beauty Buzz: Step out in Technicolour with a bold red lip and a high-impact smoky eye for a look that’s red carpet–worthy.

The after-work party

Make a statement in a fiery faux-fur full-length vest by Cristina Gavioli ($370).
7 For All Mankind high-waist ankle skinny jeans in liquid gold ($315); Generation Love jersey and georgette blouse with embellished cuff ($335); Note Du Nord snake buckle belt ($136); Earring ($28); aged gold sequin clutch ($89); Lola Cruz crystal beaded hiking boot ($428); Black Suede Studio leopard slide ($250): all clothing and accessories available at Savvy Boutique.
Beauty Buzz: Keep things chic with a timeless, low-slung ponytail and hit the right balance between classic and cool.

The Cocktail Party

You won’t be a wallflower in this lurex lace dress with velvet waistline by Twinset ($585): available at Raffinée. Earring ($279); rings ($218); bag ($125): available at Savvy Boutique. Kendall + Kylie ankle boot with metallic rose gold heel ($280): available at Shoe Box.

Rev the engines of a classic silhouette in this textured weave jacket with red topstitching by 7 Downie St. ($295); Horst shirt ($125); 34 Heritage jeans ($175); One to One belt ($85); Johnston & Murphy boots ($225): all clothing and accessories available at 67 Richmond.

Beauty Buzz: Light up your lids with delicate glitter and add a touch of iridescence to lips for a three-dimensional look.

Cocktail Attire: Dos and Don’ts

To mini, or not to mini: that is the question. As we enter the season of holiday functions replete with over-embellished invitations requesting the ever ambiguous ‘cocktail attire’ dress code, it’s only natural to feel a little bit intimidated.

While there are no strict rules when it comes to choosing an ensemble, there are still a few tried-and-tested style codes that speak to every occasion.

For 67 Richmond owner, Peter Leardi, the location of the soiree should dictate the outfit. “I always ask, ‘Where is the event being held? A restaurant or a classy golf club? And more importantly, what are the expectations of the host?’”

And according to Raffinée’s Connie Bonadonna, a woman should forego what’s on trend in favour of how the outfit makes her feel—it’s all about power dressing. “Women are really hard on themselves. I want them to own it and to feel comfortable and confident in what they have on.”

So, what’s a partygoer to do? The most difficult task might be figuring out that style sweet spot between too ‘formal’ and too ‘casual.’ Avoid making a wardrobe faux-pas with these 10 essential cocktail attire dos and don’ts:

For the Women

  • DON’T wear anything too revealing DO be daring and show some skin while keeping necklines and hemlines appropriate
  • DON’T don the blasé and overdone little black dress DO express your personality and choose bold, eye-catching colours or exotic prints
  • DON’T think you have to wear a cocktail dress DO opt for a fierce jumpsuit or a feminine tailored suit instead
  • DON’T wear anything transparent or sheer DO choose refined fabrics like velvet or lace
  • DON’T carry a large tote DO embrace the mini-bag craze and rock a teeny-tiny clutch

For the Men

  • DON’T play it safe and wear a black suit DO choose a bold hue or a textured fabric like damask or jacquard
  • DON’T think dress pants are the only option DO try a pair of dark wash jeans paired with a blazer  
  • DON’T wear sneakers DO rock a loafer or a Chelsea boot instead
  • DON’T wear a dress shirt DO try a crew neck T-shirt or polo under a sport coat
  • DON’T think a tie is the only option DO add a personal touch like a pocket square or cufflinks

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