IT'S REALLY DIFFICULT not to get stressed out this time of year. There's even more pressure than usual to spend money, while your utility bills are at their highest point. Consider what we in the fashion business call "shopping your closet." In other words, try to look at what you already have with fresh eyes, and you might be surprised to find festivity-appropriate holiday looks without dropping any more dimes.
Whatever the size of your budget, we tapped some of the city's best style professionals to see what they have in mind for this year's party-worthy attire. For your inspiration and amusement!
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"My annual slogan goes something like, 'The talent always dresses down.' A more user-friendly version is: 'Don't try too hard, wear what feels good and what you love—but with something you can talk about mixed in.' I'm very into mixing and matching designer pieces with 'normcore,' AKA low-priced everyday clothing. Like a gorgeous oversized full-length mohair winter coat by Isabel Marant over cheap jeans and an oversized, thinning white men's V-neck T-shirt with holes that you kept from your ex-boyfriend, gold/silver necklaces and a hand-cast statement ring by Kimberly Baker, and incredible, eye-catching boots—topped off with a one-of-a-kind funky beaded African-print vintage purse. Then I wear leather opera gloves and bright orange lipstick and no other makeup and messy just-woke-up hair. Into it!
Not everyone cares about fashion, or has the budget for it, and that's totally okay. If you're into fashion, you shouldn't care much about how others look, but be interested in it, and also interested in what you like." —Christine Taylor, photographer/art director/creative producer, happyplayground.com
"I always prefer to overdress rather than underdress. This is the one time of year you can bring out your best jewelry, fanciest frock, and highest heels, and no one will look at you like you're crazy the way they usually do in "casual Friday" Portland. Black and metallics are your safest bet—sequined jackets and glitter heels look fabulous in candlelit rooms with Christmas lights twinkling off the sparkles. Don't neglect your undergarments! A pretty velvet strap or a lace cami can accessorize a simple outfit. Foundation undergarments not only make your clothes look better but also set the tone for your overall mood. Like a good red lipstick (another holiday must), the right bra will put you in a festive mood!"—Sarah Wizemann, Lille Boutique, lilleboutique.com
"DO look at your own wardrobe before spending money on a party look you'll only wear once (or twice if you're lucky). Use trend reports to possibly create a modern interpretation with the clothes you already have. You'll be happier for it. DON'T forget to have fun. Enjoying the party season is the most attractive thing to wear!"—Gretchen Jones, designer, theneutralterritory.com
"I would like to see Portlanders dressed as if they are ready for 2016: with their individualism taken seriously."—Tito Chowdhury, FashioNXT, fashionxt.net
"Love it or hate it, I'm into black velvet this season. Even if '80s goth isn't necessarily your look, velvet shoes or a black velvet jacket can make an outfit sexy. An absolute party 'don't' is standing outside wearing next to nothing without a coat. I mean really, shivering is not sexy."—Ellen Hsu, Vintalier, vintalier.com
"Wool feels good. It's also super functional in the wet and cold. If they made a full-body beard, I'd wear it."—Justin "Scrappers" Morrison, Stay Wild, staywildmagazine.com
"DON'T get too complicated: too much jewelry, too many adornments (bows, zippers, etc.). And leave the ugly Christmas sweaters, antlers, and Santa hats for Christmas morning at home. Off-season colors will have you sticking out like a sore thumb. DO keep it simple: Once and for all, find that perfect little black dress in a beautiful, luxurious fabric like silk, velvet, or wool. Keep adornments and accessories classy or nonexistent (a small amount of lace, diamonds, gold, metallic shoes, or a special hairstyle). Keep it seasonal by picking colors like oxblood, hunter green, matte silver/gold, or classic black. Pick something only slightly dressier than what you normally wear. Above all you'll want to feel at ease and like the best version of yourself."—Jillian Punska, Seven Sisters, sevensisterspdx.com
"As always, FANCY. It's the one time of year you can get all decked out. I'm feeling the Copper Union fancy shrugs for sure. If you have an LBD, just toss one on and voilá! You are ready to party. I also love the darker lipsticks that look fabulous this time of year."—Alyson Clair, designer, alysonclair.com
"My man and I are usually the assholes who dress super casual to any party other than a costume party, but this holiday season we plan on taking full advantage of any excuse to dress to the nines. Think Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra."—Jenny Czinder, Strange Vacation, strangevacation.com
"I am all over this crushed velvet trend! I've already kidnapped a cranberry velvet jumpsuit and cropped velvet peasant blouse from my shop, and can't wait to pair them with oversized coats and ethnic statement jewelry!"—Anna Margaret, Le Souk Le Souk, lesouklesouk.com
"Casual elegance: It's a win-win. Also confidence and arriving on time."—Rachel Turk, Frances May, francesmay.com
"VELVET!"—Gregarious Cline, DJ, djgregarious.com
"Go. For. It. Reach for the cape, the stole, the clutch—whatever dramatic accessory that lays dormant in your closet all year—and figure out a way to make it work. This year I'm feeling all things velvet (literally), and I'm hating when people don't dress up for a festive occasion. C'mon!!!"—Anna Reed, Betsy & Iya, betsyandiya.com
"VELVET ALL THE WAY. A few friends have blown my mind recently by saying they don't like velvet. I'm not sure what's not to like: It feels amazing, looks rich, comes in a variety of colors, and provides warmth via its thickness. Whether new or vintage, it's the perfect canvas for sparkly accessories and always looks classy."—Allison Burt-Tilden, Votre Grande Soeur, votregrandesoeur.com
"'Tis the season to SLAY, honeys! The holidays bring us face to face with those we love and those who require a teensy bit o' shade. One must look MORE than amazing spreading such trendsetting Yuletide cheer. We say DO!: Make sure your holiday ensemble is très chic and très comfortable. We all KNOW you're going to eat your way through that holiday hoedown! Find solace in that final piece of fudge and our fabulous Nanushka Orla skater dress! DON'T!: Stuff yourself into THAT outfit. Like we said before, we know you're going to devour that free food! DO!: Find statement accessories that will make even Baby Jesus feel born again! We truly adore the handmade porcelain necklaces by NYC designer ARC Objects. We're pretty sure one of those handsome-ass wise men bestowed one of these upon Mary. #mangermami Lastly, DON'T!: waste your money on a holiday getup that won't get you past Kwanzaa. Unless the party calls for that Hanukkah-themed sweater, don't you dare do it! It's important to invest in your fashionable future. That simply cannot be done in an outfit that can only be worn on a drunken night once a year."—Ragen Fykes, West End Select Shop, westendselectshop.com