The holidays often represent a time of stress and frantic energy when it comes to finding the right outfit for December's festivities. When I think about attending holiday parties, I usually envision myself staying at home, wearing my tartan pajama pants, and becoming a recluse for the evening. To me, this seems better than socializing with people covered in sparkles. Unfortunately, that is not always an option. So I decided to employ the help of Sarah Schmidt, a local fashionista and style expert, to help trade in the pajama pants for an outfit that inspires us to embrace sparkles and velour with open arms.
For over a decade, Sarah has worked in the wardrobes of personal clients, on commercial sets, helped make TV and movies, and has scoured the city for all of the best shopping spots on every budget – including the glorious world of consignment. Her goal is to find you clothes that fit, flatter and make you feel good. This is emphasized by her motto, "life is too short to not feel fabulous."
K: Let's start at the beginning. What is your number one tip for putting a holiday outfit together?
S: When I'm with a client, I will ask a few logistical things so we are confident in our final selections:
· What is the type of party? Work, friends, family;
· What is your role at this party? Are you someone’s guest, a key figure;
· Where is it? Indoors, outdoors, are there activities involved;
· Any deal breakers? Budget, personal values, ethics, colours, brands...etc
And all of that is important - as you want to show up confidently in the right tone - but my favourite question to ask is: how do they want to feel on that day? The client’s answer to that question tells me a lot and helps us figure out what a brilliant win is.
K: Is there such a thing as too much sparkle?
S: Full disclosure. I’m a maximalist in my personal dress. More is more. But I’m not my client. Each person has their own comfort level with flashy items like glitter, sequins, faux fur, and feathers. Style is incredibly personal and best served when it’s custom to the unique person. It’s my job to help clients visually express what feels good to each and every one of them without ever making them feel like an imposter.
The delightful thing about holiday dressing is that you can really go for it. Get extra if you desire. Know that your version of extra will be different from that magnificent woman beside you. If you want to wear a glitzy tuxedo head to toe, do it, wonder woman. If you’re into a simple, chic black dress you’ve loved forever and a bright red shoe, that totally works too.
K: What's the best way someone can get away with re-wearing their holiday outfit?
S: Please hear me when I say that you do not need to buy everything new this season. Or for any occasion really. It’s totally up to you. I love it when a client asks, “How can I wear this dress I already love in a new way?” Centering a look on an adored, existing item is a sure win style strategy. Now that you have one piece, build around it. Perhaps it’s a cosy jacket over top, perhaps it’s new shoes, maybe it’s putting a crisp collared shirt underneath for a layered look, or maybe it’s as simple as a belt and bangin' earrings to make it feel fresh.
Getting creative and feeling good about getting multiple wears out of beloved garments is my jam. I like to challenge every new potential purchase with the question: "Can I get the cost per wear to $2 or less over its lifetime?" Thus, a great dress, or jacket, or shoe, or whatever you purchase that costs, for example, $100, should get at least 50 wears while you own it.
K: What do you foresee the top trend being for holiday parties?
S: Come December, I have a few trend predictions for the holidays. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of strappy slip dresses with cosy cardigan sweaters. For those wanting to amp that slip dress up a notch or two, really give it a refined look, why not throw a tuxedo blazer or fuzzy structured jacket over top instead of that loose cardigan? Velvet dresses were everywhere in the last couple of years. I think more people will want that same luscious velvet but in a new way. Maybe in separates like a skirt and shirt set or maybe those bold enough will go for the full velvet pantsuit.
Those being mindful of the weather may use that to their advantage. Long, full sleeves are a great way to stay warm and look posh. And a haute tip for those heading to more formal occasions: sleeves are also a lovely way to adhere to a modest dress code. Classy lady alert. Pleated midi skirts with a turtleneck is a great look too. Here’s a tip: if you want a polished look, go for a thinner, form-fitted knit and tuck it in all the way around. For those wanting a more casual vibe, pick a chunkier, oversized knit and tuck it in either to the side or center of your waist. Lastly, sequins are always a jolly option. They sparkle, they shimmy, they delight. A simple way to keep it classy is to pick one colour and keep it going. A sort of monochromatic disco ball moment. I hope to see it all through December and while ringing in the New Year.
Sarah's concluding tips? Ask yourself three questions:
1. Does this fit me? (my body, my budget, my values)
2. Does this flatter me? (the colour, the silhouette, my personality)
3. And most importantly, does it feel good?
And maybe add one extra bit of sparkle. As Sarah says: "After all, it’s the holidays, gorgeous."
Interested in contacting Sarah for some amazing style tips?