Archive for the ‘Holiday Fashion’ Category

Holiday Party Dress Ideas

December 2, 2013

I cruised the web looking for the most adorable holiday dresses I could find.  Here are some of my Cool Yule picks for this year, from Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Dots, Wet Seal, and JCPenney. It’s like an online fashion show! Which one is your favorite?

blue lace wet seal 35

I’m showing the rear view of this fantastic $35 blue lace plus-size dress from Wet Seal because I think it makes the dress really special. The front is a modest scoop neck, and with the sleeves, this is an holiday office party appropriate choice, but it still stands out in that fabulous royal blue color. Classy but still vroom vroom!

This flirty red plus-size dress from Nordstrom was almost sold out online the last time I checked, but you may be able to find it in stores. A great antidote to the little LBD in a feel-good color and easy-to-wear cut make it a winner at just $88.

This flirty red plus-size dress from Nordstrom was almost sold out online the last time I checked, but you may be able to find it in stores. A great antidote to the little LBD in a feel-good color and easy-to-wear cut make it a winner at just $88.

This luxurious looking gold lace dress from JCPenney was actually quite a bit more pretty in the store than it shows in this photo, IMHO. It's one of the few longer dresses this season, too, for those who prefer that look.

This luxurious looking gold lace dress from JCPenney was actually quite a bit more pretty in the store than it shows in this photo, IMHO. It’s one of the few longer dresses this season, too, for those who prefer that look. This would be a lovely dress for that photo-op by the Christmas tree.

Nordstrom has some of the hottest dresses in plus sizes. This well reviewed sequin dress is $168. I love the not quite black color - universally flattering.

Nordstrom has some of the hottest dresses in plus sizes. This well reviewed sequin dress is $168. I love the not quite black color – universally flattering.

Okay, no Christmas tree will compete with you in this red sequin number. Check out the back on this dress! You'll turn heads, that's for sure. It's $188 from Nordstrom.

Okay, no Christmas tree will compete with you in this red sequin number. Check out the back on this dress! You’ll turn heads, that’s for sure. It’s $188 from Nordstrom.

The metallic touches in this simple dress make it a classy choice from Anthropologie, $168

The metallic touches in this simple but elegant dress make it a classy choice from Anthropologie, $168. This is the dress you want for the after-five holiday party or networking event, don’t you agree?

This is the dress you want to wear to the Kennedy Center to see the Nutcracker ballet, am I right?  The copper lace is gorgeous. It's $228 from Anthropologie

This is the dress you want to wear to the Kennedy Center to see the Nutcracker ballet, am I right? The copper lace is gorgeous. It’s $228 from Anthropologie

dots dress 16

This adorable black chiffon cocktail dress from Dots is only $16! Love the sequin detailing at the shoulders.

dots dress 22

This show-stopper from Dots will only set you back $22. If you’ve got the body for this dress, flaunt it! I can see this on New Year’s Eve on the dance floor.

jcpenney emerald dresss 31 99 _80

Tired of LBDs? This well-reviewed dress in emerald from JCPenney is marked down to $32 from $80 this weekend. I bought the black version and I love it! It’s a flattering fit if you’ve got curves.

Tulle is a hot trend this winter. This is a classy number and it's only $30 at Wet Seal. Pair it with a soft cardigan if you feel chilly.

Tulle is a hot trend this winter. This is a classy number and it’s only $30 at Wet Seal. Pair it with a soft cardigan if you feel chilly, or check out their website for an edgier look with black tights and a blazer.


A Gold Mine of Holiday Dresses in Gold, from $17 to $258

November 21, 2012

This knockout dress from Anthropologie will set you back $258 but you’re sure to be wearing one of the most memorable dresses in the room!

For the holiday and New Year’s Eve, it seems a shame to me to play it safe and go with a little black dress, when you could really shine at your holiday party or big night out.

Metallic fabrics and sequins are the big fashion look of the holiday season this year, but why stay with safe black?  Gold is flattering to many skin tones and it looks great next to a Christmas tree in holiday photographs!

Here are a bevy of glittering gold dresses for every budget.  Click on the dress photo to order.

Prefer long sleeves in winter? Here’s a gold sequin dress from Coldwater Creek for $200

This gold and polyester lurex dress has a pretty cut and is a steal from Wal-Mart for $17.88 plus .98 shipping!

A gold sequin Michael Kors wrap dress is $150 at Macy’s.

This gold sequin number from Dress Barn retails for $62.

When it has to be a RED dress: my holiday red dress picks

November 14, 2012

Nothing beats the attention-getting power of a red dress, and there’s no better time than the holidays to wear one.  Hear are five red dresses to consider for your holiday parties and nights out this year…these are selling out fast online, so don’t wait until December!

If you have a fair complexion, a deep red might be more flattering than a bright red.  This dress is festive but low-key enough for business and office events.  Snap it up from Dillards in limited sizes left for $36.

What a beautiful red satin dress from Dress Barn.  Love the twist detail!  This one is $70.

Here’s a frankly romantic dress with print roses and ruffles that you would want to pull out again for Valentine’s Day night out.  This one is from White House | Black Market and retails for $140.

Another great dress from Dress Barn, with just a hint of sequins at the hip…at $42, you can’t beat the price!

If you can wear junior sizing, then you might like this $40 JCPenney dress.

Bargain Fashion Finds for Holiday 2010 (women’s apparel and accessories)

November 29, 2010

Only $24!! Dots Red Sequin Dress (S, M, L, XL) stores only

What to wear…what to wear?  The One Party — evening event, lounge location, cold, damp night.  Christmas IPRA luncheon — mid-day, lots of Italian food.  And then there are the office parties, Christmas concerts, the Nutcracker ballet, afternoons of skating, and nights strolling around Old Town Alexandria…

Like you, I want to look festive (and feel comfortable) during the holidays, and probably like you 🙂 I’m on a budget. A TIGHT budget! Many times, it makes sense to invest in quality pieces.  But for the holidays,  you may only wear these items once or a few times.  So, I think it’s worthwhile saving some money.

I fell in love with lots of the festive “Glisten Up” items at Talbots and other chic items I saw at stores this year, but all were too expensive for me.  I did find some great alternatives, however…

  • For that chic holiday party after 5: Instead of Talbots black velveteen ankle pants ($79.50), buy Walmart’s flat front, fitted black velveteen leggings: $12. These fit like ankle pants, not skin tight.  You save: $67.50.  Pretty good, considering how often you will actually wear them!
  • I also saw a fabulous sequin scarf in the accessories section at Wal-Mart in silver, black, or rose, and it was about $10.  Sorry, Talbots, it looks and wears almost like your $69 sequin scarf Save $59 smackers right there… I almost bought it.  Wish I had!
  • Need to dress up your suit for the office Christmas party?  Instead of Talbots sequined tank top ($69.50), choose Target’s Xhiliaration sequin tank top in colors like blush, black, or gold, in stores, $12-$17.  You save:  up to $57.50. I think I’d top this with one of the many soft cardigans they had in matching colors for under $20.  With a longer fine-gauge cardigan, that top would also be a great look with jeans and heels.
  • There was a fantastic lace pencil skirt offered by Talbots for $159.  Loved it.  Black lace over copper silk.  So gorgeous.  But it’s a dream.  Now the lace Covington skirt at Sears? That’s a reality.  Black lace over white satin.  On sale for $20.  You save $139.
  • White coat (Wal-Mart $20), mittens ($3) and hat ($3)

    You need a warm coat for going to see the National Christmas Tree downtown. Wouldn’t winter white be so chic instead of predictable black?  Yes, it would!  Instead of Lands End lightweight down jacket in white ($59), choose Walmart’s white, quilted junior parka, $18 (in plus sizes for $20).  You save: $41. This is a great looking coat that is actually nice and warm for most DC days.  I added a cute seasonal hat for just $3!

  • For me, New Year’s Eve is all about shine, and it’s the one night you can pull off a sequined dress.  It’s hard to beat the glam of Talbot’s tank-style sequin dress, but let’s face it — that’s a one-time only dress.  You will look fabulous for one night for $299, and then you can’t really wear it again.  I loved it, I really did, but opted for sleeves, and an A-Line cut and got a red version that kind of looks like sequins online from Dress Barn.  Hey, it fits!  It’s down to $25, now, online, if you happen to wear a size 14W.   I’m wearing mine to the One Party with a black jet necklace.  Dress Barn’s also got a great sleeveless black sequin dress with a really fabulous cut (I tried it on) for $49, online and in stores.  And, if you’ve got the figure for it, all eyes will be on you in this red sleeveless sequin, v-necked tank dress from Dots for just $24! (sizes S, M, and L).  There’s a Dot’s store in Alexandria, VA.  Buy one of these glittery numbers and save between $225 and $274!

    Red "sequin-effect" dress (Dress Barn, $25), necklace (Target, $1), holiday headband (Target, $1)

  • Accessories can add up, unless you know where to look.  The dollar section at Target is a great place to buy little seasonal accessories.  I bought a black jet necklace there for $1 last year that I’m wearing to a party.  This year, I bought a pair of sequined headbands — you get 2 for a dollar — one in dark red and one in black.  Or go for green tinsels and red “lights” for a dollar.  Again, since these aren’t everyday pieces, quality is not really an issue, but price is!

The fashions at Talbots and other stores are incredibly lovely, but if you haven’t got the moolah, use those looks for inspiration and find bargains elsewhere (like Target, Sears, and Wal-Mart).  I don’t think hardly anyone will notice the difference…it seems like most holiday party settings are pretty dark, anyway.

What are you wearing for the holidays?  What trends have you seen?  Have you found any bargains?  Feel free to share them in the comments.

5 Cool Yule Tips for Saving Money on Beauty this Holiday

December 1, 2009

Dress from Dress Barn; necklace from Claire's.

The recession changed the way I spend money.  I thought I would share some money-saving beauty tips with you.

  1. Do your own nails. You know, the look is for shorter nails, which is great because they are low-maintenance and easy to shape and lacquer yourself.  Thanks to the recession, I have saved a small fortune since I gave up salon manicures and pedicures.  Polish your nails with a trendy shade from Sephora for less than $5 a bottle (look for the small bottles), like a sophisticated silvery grey, or try a sexy Christmas red glistened with gold lustre; like my favorite Revlon shade, “Frankly Scarlet” (just under $5 bottle).
  2. Shop smart for holiday dresses. If you absolutely must have something new this season for your holiday parties, and you usually shop at Ann Taylor or Macy’s for dresses, consider budget-friendly shopping alternatives.  I purchased one of the prettiest cocktail dresses I own, a teal satin number, from Wal-Mart! I also found a great sleeveless top. The dress was — brand new, not on sale — $18, I kid you not.  The top was $15.   So, if you’re on a recession budget, keep an open mind about discount stores. Dress Barn has some of the prettiest dresses I have seen anywhere this season.  That’s just my personal taste, perhaps, but they really are nice, and they also have plus size versions.  The dresses at Dress Barn top off, when they’re not on sale, at about $79, which is about half what you’d pay at a higher-end department store.  But there are also plenty of great dresses at Dress Barn for $39 and $49.  There is no reason to buy more when you might only wear the dress a few times.
  3. Shop smart for jewelry, accessories and evening bags. Costume jewelry can get pretty pricey.  Because I don’t have pierced ears, I have long been a fan of Claire’s for their clip earrings.  It’s really not just for kids!  I have received many compliments on the jewelry I have purchased there.  I once saw the identical scarf sold elsewhere for more than $20 in department stores for less than $15 at Claire’s.  And everyone was wearing that style scarf this fall. Target should be your destination for unique and gorgeous evening handbags for fantastic prices.  The look this year is not too matchy-matchy; go for a contrasting bright color, or skip matching your bag and shoes.
  4. Festive shoes for less. The most comfortable pair of black satin evening heels I wear that everybody goes crazy for was bought at Payless on sale for less than $20.  I also have a pair of silver flats I bought there that really kick up jeans that I snagged for less than $15.
  5. Scent and sparkle. Bath and Body Works often has a terrific deals on lightly scented, sparkly moisturizers; $5 a tube.  My favorite is Warm Vanilla Sugar.  I think a little lustre on your shouders, cheeks, and decolletage is really delightful during the holidays.  I also like the their scented body sprays (3 for $10), which I find less cloying than expensive perfumes.  The man in your life will love how you smell like a fresh-baked cookie!

Now We Don Our Gay Apparel: Cool Yule Holiday Fashion Tips

November 28, 2009

Attending a special party or performance this holiday season?  It’s time to show off a little bit!  You know, Washington, DC is a conservative town in many ways.  Even at the Kennedy Center, many women tend to dress down.  I go to plenty of after-five networking functions and I notice that some women look like they didn’t want to be perceived as trying too hard.   Well, ladies, it’s time to turn that around.  There is nothing unprofessional or show-offy about looking fantastic!  Here are some fashion tips to help you shine for the holidays.

Turn Heads with Sassy Leg Wear

Fancy hosiery is one inexpensive way to update and accessorize a simple holiday outfit.  The holidays are one time when you can really pull off patterned leg wear, which is great because  that is one of the hot looks this season, and anyone of any age or size can wear them.  Choose patterned leggings for a more casual (and warmer) look, or go for lace, sparkly or patterned stockings or tights to dress up your look for holiday parties.  I’m gravitating toward the lace styles this year.  One very hot look this season is bright color tights — hot pink and magenta, even.  (I saw this look in More Magazine, so it’s not just for young women.)  Try them with black or charcoal grey dresses or skirts.  Another head-turning look are printed tights in floral and animal patterns.  There is a wide range of prices on these, starting at $7 and up.

Rethink the Little Black Dress

It’s hard to beat the little black dress for easy sophistication.   Go to any holiday party and you’re sure to see ubiquitous black skirts or trousers topped with festive blouses and sweaters.  Even black blazers.  Black is a no-brainer.  But it’s so predictable!

Check out this picture featuring two women in Lane Bryant silk holiday dresses.  Which woman would you remember?  Which would you notice from across the room? Sure, black is classy and elegant, but you only go around once!  Might as well have fun.

Black can be flattering if worn strategically.  Otherwise, black can make you look tired, or less than festive.  If you choose to wear black close to your face, for example, a solid black blazer or top, consider adding contrasting jewelry or hair accessories, in pearl or bright jewel tones, to bring color and light to your face.  For example, I have a very simple black dress that has a v-neck line, but I like to wear a statement necklace with enormous peridot green stones with it.

Pay  a bit more attention to your makeup than usual when you wear black, particularly mascara, eye liner, and brows.  If you’re older than forty, bright red or dark lipstick with black can be a bit harsh, so consider a more subtle lip shade, with a little shine, and accent your eyes.  And of course, the best accessory is a smile 🙂

This adorable dress is available from Target for $31.99

If  you really want to stand out at the party, however, why not go for color this year?  I’ve seen some lovely dresses at Target and Dress Barn in deep purple, deep teal, and cranberry red.  Or try something unexpected and complexion-flattering, like chocolate brown, pewter, sage green, or champagne matte satin — all very chic and sophisticated looks that can look festive when accessorized with the right jewelry and perhaps warmed up with a soft cardigan sweater with three-quarter sleeves (to show off a pretty bracelet).

Check out this flattering, empire-style Target dress which is available in women’s sizes up to 16 for only $31.99!

Would you ever look back at basic black after rocking this fabulous dress from Dress Barn?

What to Do About Shoes?

Shoes are where a lot of people give up.  There is always the compromise between comfort and style, especially if you are traveling on Metro to a downtown event, or the weather is bad.  But people do look at your shoes.

Most work day shoes, such as a simple leather pump or plain flat, as comfortable as they are, cannot stand up to the glitz and luxe of holiday fabrics.  You really have to buy a dressy shoe to look your best, but there are comfortable and affordable holiday shoes to be had.

Consider another color for dressy shoes instead of black.  Shoes close to the color of your complexion (think satin pumps, metallic sandals) will make your legs look longer.   Check out these lovely champagne colored slippers (they’re on sale at JCPenney this week for $39.99).  Now imagine them with some champagne sheer hose, with an emerald or teal dress.  That could be an elegant look.   Or these little red numbers, which look as comfortable as they are pretty ($55, from JCPenney).  Couldn’t you dance the night away in those? 

But black is great, I agree.  If you choose black pumps, consider wearing black patterned or sheer hose to extend the leg.

Casual Looks for the Holidays

Hey, every day can’t be a party (I wish!)  But every day can be a little more fun in the cotton holiday t-shirts I have seen at Wal-Mart and Target for only $5 each.  Why not wear one to the gym the next time you work out, or layer one with a sweater the next time you go shopping or ice-skating?

The ANA and Worthington brands at JCPenney have some great, updated, and affordable looks for casual get-togethers that are wearable for women of any age.  Consider these looks, my darlings, instead of those holiday santa or applique sweaters.  Reindeer sweaters are cute, perhaps, but this holiday, let’s all go for HOT instead of cute.  Here’s a very good reason to donate those cute sweaters to Goodwill and embrace your fabulous hotness while still looking festive.  I love this gorgeous charcoal gray sweater from JCPenney, less than $40.  It’s hip and it has the most subtle touch of Lurex for little holiday sparkle.  Wouldn’t this be smashing with boots and jeans, or leggings?  Or you could wear it for dinner out.

Cool Yule Shopping Review: Fair Oaks Mall

November 25, 2009

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m incredibly glad that for once I followed my own advice and got my shopping done before Black Friday.

Last night, which was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, William and I went to Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia.  Fair Oaks is one of my favorite malls, if not my all-time favorite.  This is what we found at the mall last night.  Tremendously organized and well-stocked stores.  Extremely helpful and gung-ho sales people.  No lines to wait in at the cash register or in the restaurants.  A very short line for Santa.  Parking a-plenty.  Even some sales!

Christmas Decorations

The Christmas decor in the mall is the same as it has been for a few years now; life-sized stuffed animals, white lights, and red poinsettias.

In the center of the mall, there is the big snow globe and a very small Santa’s court, with a Polar Express-The Movie theme.  We went through just to get snowed on.  Did we ever.  We were covered with tiny white plastic flakes.  I would not say that was a magical experience, however.  Just a little bit fun.  It could have been, but it was pretty commercial.  It didn’t really say “Christmas” to me.  It didn’t make me go aww! or catch my breath.  You know, back in the day, Santa lands were set apart from the shopping areas in their own little environments.  That’s part of what made it magical; you really felt like you were entering a little fantasy land.  That element was missing from this open style set-up.  You could clearly see stores, and the elevators, and shoppers all around you.  But I think the Polar Express decor also contributed to the plastic and less than magic feel.


We found some great deals at JCPenney (which is where I buy more than half my clothes, but we bought something for someone else, I can’t say who, or she might guess what she is getting!).  So we knocked one person off the list.

The Corner Bakery

Then we had a quick dinner at Maggiano’s Corner Bakery Cafe on the second level of the mall.  It’s one of the better and more affordable dining options at the mall. Our dinner came to just over $10 for both us.  I like it because I can get half a hot reuben sandwich and tomato soup.  William had the plain turkey sandwich.  Let me just say that this is the second time I have had the same cashier and he was, as then, super-nice, especially because I always need help deciding what to get, and he never has become impatient with me.  Do they ever do customer-service right there.  We were happy campers.

Bath and Body Works

Then we headed to Bath and Body Works, on the first level, and that really gets five stars for customer service and selection.  Bath and Body Works is always a Christmas shopping destination because it is the gift that fits everyone and is non-fattening 🙂  Everybody loves Bath and Body Works.  Well, the store looked beautiful.  The sales people were incredibly helpful and upbeat.  One gentleman working there made some excellent suggestions for two people on my list who are not easy to buy for, and I got my shopping done pretty quickly.  Still, I had to browse a bit.  This year, they had sparkly lotion in tubes for $5, including my favorite scent of warm brown sugar.  One year, I got everybody sparkly body lotion, not realizing that no one I know actually likes their skin to sparkle — except myself.  I am all about the glitter.  So, I bought this $5 Christmas present for myself and I couldn’t be happier.

The selection was terrific.  Bath and Body Works had pre-packaged gifts for $10, $15, $20, and more.  I did not see a whole lot over $30.  I recommend the lip glosses.  I use the lime one myself and they are yummy and they really add a nice shine and dimension to your regular lipstick color.   This year they are adding them to some $15 gift sets, including shower gel, lotion and fragrance, which is a real bargain because ordinarily just the lip gloss retails for $7.  So snap those up!  They also had stocking-stuffers: 3 for $10 bath products and fragrances and $1 hand sanitizer.  You know you can never have too much hand-sanitizer while flu is going around.  This is one recession-friendly place.  I really think, in comparison to last year, there were more bargains to be had, and nicer packaging.  So, if you have women to buy for (and men, too), this place is defintely worth a stop.

A quick look at Macy’s and XXI

We peeked in Macy’s, not to buy anything, but just to look around.  Just to compare, a nice gentleman there tried to sell me on the Dolce Gabbana new rose scented gift scents ($70 an $90).  Designer status aside, your money could go a lot farther at Bath and Body Works.  I politely passed. The clothes that I saw were nice, however.  Just out of my budget.

With its flashy window decorations and chandeliers, William and I couldn’t resist peeking inside the 2-story XXI.  It’s a fashion store really geared to teenagers and young 20-somethings.  I was surprised that they had a lot of youthful but affordable accessories, like fashion rings and bracelets, some under $5.  I also saw a pewter, lurex, tiered-style, racerback, sleeveless camisole that would look great at a club or party, maybe even over a tissue-weight white or black t-shirt with some skinny jeans, that retailed for only $19.90.  But it’s kind of a young look for me, given that I’m 44!  so I didn’t get it.  But as you can tell, my teenager heart wanted it 🙂

A Peek Inside Sephora

I wasn’t buying anything at Sephora, but  we walked in anyway, just to check it out.  I noticed that they had some very nice sets which would thrill anyone on your list who likes makeup.  Go in now and snap up the tiny Sephora compact for $15.  I would have bought it myself, except that the only person I could think of who really would love it was myself.  Since I already bought myself  the lotion, I passed.  But hey: the set is amazing. It has 8 or 10 tiny eye shadows in some fabulous colors, 4 tiny lip glosses, and what looks like a powder blush.  For $15, you can’t beat it. They also had some great little mascara and lip gloss duos.  My favorite set was in the back, and it was called “My First Makeup Kit.”  It had some small sizes of a lot of make up essentials that almost anyone would love.  They also had some other combination sets, including nice ones from Benefit (pricey but worth it – I recommend the concealer kit which has a sample size of their fabulous pink eye-depuffer, lemon-aid, and highlight beam)  And those mini nail polishes (Sephora brand) for $5 are a nice stocking stuffer, too.

A friendly young saleswoman was rocking a unique eye shadow look and I complimented her on it.  She said that at Sephora, they like to teach their customers how to do different makeup looks, and that she would be happy to show me how to get that look.  I passed, but sometime I will take them up on it.  She said usually they do one eye  and then coach you through how to do the other eye.  That sounds like fun to me.

Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream

By that time, we were ready for something refreshing so we walked to the Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream on the second floor (near Hot Topic).  You must check this out if you go to Fair Oaks Mall.  I’ve had their gelato before and it’s wonderful.  Get the small size; it’s huge, and they give you two flavors.  But this time I wanted to try their frozen yogurt.  I had it accessorized with fresh raspberries and it was plenty big for William and me to share for under $5.  Was it ever yummy!  Tangy and not too sweet, no fat, and really refreshing.

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