Tis’ the season to be stylish: how to avoid a festive fail

Published on 09 December 2016
by ASI Team
Category: Style

The festive season brings out all kinds of fashionistas. From the overly enthusiastic, who only wear sequins for all of December, or those who have embraced the festive suit, (unofficial) stats have shown that you’ll find the kitschiest of outfits during this time of year. For the rest of us, who prefer sticking to our usual uniform of monochrome, dressing for the festivities can bring out our inner-Grinch.

To tell us how we can add a bit of sparkle to our wardrobes without too many sequins, we called on a few of our Australian Style Institute stylists. From the east coast to the west, we’ve scoured the country to make sure we’ve got you covered. Here’s your line up:
– Anna of Anna Mabin Styling, Queensland.
– Juvelle of Running in Chanel, Perth.
– Samantha of Style Union, Melbourne.

So ladies, what fashion faux-pas should we avoid this festive season (besides festive suits)?

Anna: Some people would probably say sequins, but I say the more sequins the better! If you stick to one piece, such as a gold sequin top, you can achieve a festive look without looking like a Christmas decoration.  

Samantha: It’s best to avoid outfits that show too much cleavage. At work and family functions, it’s important to stay classy.

Juvelle: Unless it’s themed, leave the over the top patterns and ugly Christmas sweaters at home.

How can we put together a stylish outfit without going over the top?

A: Nothing beats a red statement dress during the Christmas season, as long as you pair it with the right shoe. Tis the season to be jolly, right? You should embrace it.

For a simpler look, a great linen dress with a statement earring is the go-to option this festive season.

J: The best way to bring that Christmas cheer is with subtle metallic materials and embellishments.

S: Greens and reds can be done, but it takes a lot to pull off a completely red or green outfit. Instead, those colours can be used in accessories, a shirt or print. I would go for a stand out accessory, like a shoe or a handbag, which ties the outfit together and creates a festive look.

Overdoing it and not-so-smart casual. How do we make sure we hit the mark this Christmas?

S: It depends on where you are and what the event is. With festive dressing it can be comedic or it can be classy. It’s always better to opt for the classy rather than comic.

J: At Christmas time in Perth we see a lot of thongs, board shorts and basic tees on the men and little slip dresses and denim shorts on the women. These can make you look a little too underdone for a celebratory function.  

You can be casual and still look smart. For guys this can mean a boat shoe and nice tailed shorts to give you that relaxed vibe, while looking smart. For girls small things will improve your outfit. An embellished sandal, which is just as comfortable as a thong, will make you look a lot more put together.

A: A lot of Australians spend their Christmas day in the pool because it’s so hot, especially in Queensland – so often people think the less clothing the better. However, you can still create a cute outfit for around the pool. A jumpsuit or a nice kaftan over a one piece can be effortlessly stylish without being too underdone.

So even though Christmas in Australia is in summer, there’s no need to dress down. What should we be looking for when dressing for an Australian Christmas?

A: It’s a breath of fresh air in the shops at the moment. There are a lot of light, summery pieces in, as well as colourful and fun prints. It’s all about breathable cotton and linens this season.

S: Choose lightweight fabrics – silks, cottons and linens as well as pieces that you’re comfortable in. You can dress those up or down.

It’s great to have things that you can layer on and take off depending on the weather. Here in Victoria we have many seasons in one day, so another layer to go over the top is really important.

J: When looking at colour options, white is always a great choice when it’s hot.

Flowy, pleated skirts are also suitable for a warm Christmas day. They’re trendy and stylish, yet you are still covered up, so you can sit on the floor with the kids and enjoy Christmas.  

It’s a little harder for men to dress up during the warmer months. What should they be wearing on Christmas day?

A: Chino shorts are great. Team them with a collared, button-up, linen shirt and you can look quite suave.  I’m a sucker for boat shoes, or a nice summer slide. As long as you don’t wear thongs – you’re going to be ok.

S: Clothing doesn’t have to be structured, men can opt for loose clothing – it’s a time of celebration not control.

The attention to detail is in the accessories they put on, so a good shoe is really important. Shoes need to be nice and comfortable – open toed shoes such as a leather sandal are ok.

J: Guys are often the culprits of underdressing when it comes to Christmas. Their shoe of choice is either a dressy work shoe or a rubber thong. However, there are a lot of other options for men. White sneakers are very on trend at the moment and look smart with a jean or chino. I love it when they put a bit more effort in and dress up with the girls.

Work parties can be used as an opportunity to show off our personalities a little more than a usual day in the office. How do we dress up for an office Christmas party while keeping it professional?

A: The simple rule of not showing too much skin is always important.  There are ways you can dress up without baring all.

The off the shoulder trend is great for a Christmas party, it’s easy to wear and can look quite dressy. Midi dresses and skirts are also good options as they look great and are appropriate.

J: With individual style, I think colour is great. A lot of people tend to avoid colour when it comes to work functions, but it can be the best way to talk about your personality, stand out or start a conversation with someone.

S: A lot of people go straight from work to their Christmas party. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take options to work and hang them on the back of your office door.

You could pair the same skirt you’ve worn for the day with a great coloured shirt. It just depends on your key pieces, what you feel comfortable in and what flatters your shape. Add a bold lip and statement earrings to your outfit and you’re good to go.

I want to be sparkly but I don’t want to wear sequins, how can I achieve this look?

S: If you want to achieve the sparkly look you can always go for a muted metallic, they’re everywhere this season! A muted silver, gold or rose gold are great colours in a skirt or pant.

If you wanted to go with less you could add touches of metallic in a pattern or play with these colours in your accessories to curate that touch of sparkle.

J: Zara has a beautiful gunmetal skirt in a metallic material. It’s a great way to bring shine or sparkle without being that over the top.

Another great way is to accessorise. A jewelled earring or necklace is a great way to bring a bit of sparkle.

A: There’s some great midi pleated skirts. They are a really understated way of being festive while not being too out there.

Any last tips and tricks for the festive season?

A: Shop your own wardrobe. You’re often in a rush at this time of the year and there’s a lot of panic when you’re looking for an outfit. By just adding the right accessories to something you already own, you can often create a whole new outfit.

S: Just keep it simple. Christmas is a time of enjoying and celebrating each other. The more comfortable you feel the more open you become and therefore the more enjoyable the day is.

J: Nope. Just have a great Christmas!

So what are our top takeaways? It’s important to get colour and material right when dressing for the warmer weather, midi skirts are great for work functions, boat shoes always work and metallic is a must for an understated festive look.

Stay sparkly everyone.


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