Now that we're gearing up for the holiday season - Thanksgiving, Chalica, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Christmas, Newtonmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, New Year's Eve, Decemberween, etc., it's time to think about what to wear to holiday celebrations.
Hors d'oeurves, plus (possible) alcohol, plus dancing, plus people, plus dressing up equals holiday party.
Ugly holiday sweaters and white elephant gifts also could be thrown into the mix.
At any event there will be holiday cookies, mini-quiches, bacon-wrapped dates, spinach dip in a hollowed-out bread bowl, cocktails and the like.
You're going to eat, and you're going to eat a lot.
(I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a foodie and I can pretty much eat anyone under the table.)
I'm just a thrifty girl with a keen eye for beauty and fashion. Just ask my friends (and their teenage daughters). They frequently ask to borrow my clothes, teach them how to apply makeup and to advise them on what to wear for special occasions.
More importantly, they ask me how to stay current and fashionable in this economy without breaking the bank. I'm all about finding personal style and accentuating natural assets.
Don't know what goes best with that little black dress? Want to give yourself a facial for mere pennies? Care to score some clothes for free? Your gorgeousness guru is here to help!
Send me your style stumpers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At holiday parties people tend to really celebrate, aka overeat and drink, for various reasons - a few days off of work, completion of a big project, finally managing to get a babysitter, nerves due to meeting new people, the boss makes an appearance, a crush shows up or just not wanting to look awkward.
If you know you'll be eating and-or drinking a lot, go for something chic and comfortable with some stretch or a flowy fabric.
I'm not saying to bust out those maternity pants (unless you are pregnant, if so, wear whatever you want), but rather, don't try to double up on the Spanx and wear a tight, structured satin sheath and expect to be able to eat, drink and dance without busting out of it.
One evening, my husband and I went to dinner with some friends.
I wore a two-tone stretchy dress with a wide belt and a big bow on it. We ordered appetizers, salad, main course and dessert.
Just as I put a heavenly bite of chocolate souffle cake with vanilla cream sauce in my mouth, my belt sprung open with a loud snap.
Everyone at our table burst out laughing.
I laughed and refastened it. The darned thing just did a repeat performance, so I discretely took it off and slipped it into my purse.
After trying on several dresses, I decided to wear a short black dress with an exposed zipper up the front to a holiday party.
I was well into enjoying my share of holiday season treats so I squirmed into some Spanx over my tights.
In my hurry, I forgot to switch the tights to go on top of the Spanx.
As the party progressed, I was snuggled up on an overstuffed armchair with my husband.
It was late and I had kicked off my shoes and tucked my feet up.
One of my friends walked by and said, "I know you wear those Spanx every day, but you don't have to prove it to us!"
Sure enough, about four inches of ugly tan slenderizing garment leg was peeking out of the bottom of my mini.
By the way, I don't wear Spanx every day, just when I'm wearing something form-fitting. Now let's get down to business and head to the office.
Going from office to party
You work hard for your money ... to buy a new outfit or perhaps just accessories for a dress you already have for a party.
You might have to go straight from work to a party or maybe it is an office party.
You don't want to bring your fancy schmancy dress to work in a garment bag or run home to change.
Wouldn't you rather just slip into the ladies' room and jazz up your outfit with some snazzy jewelry and amp up your makeup a little?
An easy office-to-party wear transition is to wear a sequined, glittery or metallic tank top under a sweater with some bright or black pants and match the tank with some sparkly shoes.
Come party time, ditch the sweater, throw on some long dangly earrings and brush a little bronzer on your face, neck and cleavage and get ready to start dancing on top of your desk.
The LBD: Little Black Dress
This piece was created by Coco Chanel in the 1920s and never has fallen out of fashion favor ever since.
It's a staple, a must-have, a go-to item in every woman's closet, but it also can be a little boring dress or a crutch.
I have a closetful of little black dresses - 11 to be exact.
They are all different in some way and most of the styles are timeless, but the one I wear the most is a simple black sleeveless sheath dress from J.Crew.
Black is both dressy and slimming, but since everybody knows this, chances are everyone will be partying in LBDs.
How do you stand out in that sea of black?
Well, you can either forego the LBD altogether (see below) or accessorize it just right.
I like to wear mine with bright-colored tights or a fringed scarf.
Jeweled Peter Pan collar necklaces or statement necklaces are perfect paired with LBDs, just make sure to keep other jewelry simple (you don't want to look like you raided Aunt Tilly's costume trunk).
Diamonds and pearls (faux for me) really sparkle and glow with the black backdrop of your dress.
Add a metallic, colorful or patterned belt if your dress can handle it. Or, go for a bow, feathered or jeweled headband or headdress.
All these options are meant to be used separately - don't try them all at once.
Take your time and get it right, even if you have to try on multiple combinations of jewelry and accessories.
Bright, jewel-tone, two-tone or vintage are all fab choices to make you really stand out among the writhing many-headed black hydra on the dance floor.
If you go for red, try a darker, more 1940's shade rather than a too bright 1980s red, the latter can look cheap in any fabric.
Sapphire blue and emerald green are both very cool right now and you can have a lot of fun with metallic, black or white accessories.
Try a two-tone dress with a white or bright top and a black lower half, it will create a beautiful, slimming optical illusion and draw the eye up to your gorgeous face.
I love vintage dresses. Wilson-Ross, 326 Market St., Lewisburg, 524-1200, always stocks a huge selection of party dresses in styles from decades past (and more recent ones).
They also carry an eclectic selection of beautiful accessories - most from New York City.
The best thing about wearing a vintage dress to a party is that no one will be wearing the same one - you'll be a true original.
Limping is not cute
This is a very personal issue for me since I developed plantar fasciitis over the summer. I've actually been forbidden to wear heels under any circumstances.
You want to be happy with how you look, but more importantly, how you feel at a party.
To be able to dance, walk around and stand for hours - you need to wear comfortable shoes.
Instead of sky-high stilettos, try some flats or sandals with sequins, feathers, rhinestones or glitter instead or go metallic.
These shoes don't have to be expensive either. Try Target, Payless, TJ Maxx or Kohl's.
If you want to be really comfortable, buy your party shoes a half a size to a size larger and put some gel or foam inserts in them.
Do this and your feet will be so happy that you will be the last girl dancing when everyone else is limping home barefoot, carrying their spike-heeled torture devices.
A word of caution for flat-wearers - don't wear them with wide-leg pants or pencil skirts unless you are a tall gal or else they'll make you look frumpy.
Flats look stunning with a full skirt of any length or cigarette pants a la Joan in Mad Men.
If you are determined to sport high heels (and as a shorty, I understand), do yourself a favor and bring some foldable flats along in your purse for dancing or walking home.
Foldable flats come in a variety of colors, styles and price ranges - gorgeous Tieks ($165-295), Ballasox ($60), Gap City Flats ($40) and Dr. Scholl's Fast Flats ($10) - to put on when your feet can't take the heat of those smokin' high heels any longer (and foldable flats always come with an adorable little drawstring bag to carry them in).
Eat, drink and be merry (responsibly), whatever winter holiday you choose to celebrate - you deserve to cut loose at little - you gorgeous thing, you!
McKinney may be reached at email@example.com.
Her column is published on the second Friday of each month as part of the Lifestyle section's "Fashion Friday" features.