The holidays aren’t just Peacock Lane, peppermint mochas, white elephant gift exchanges, and Mariah Carey on a loop. In the fashion world, it’s time to add glitz and glam to your wardrobe by way of sequins and velvet. Apparel designers tackle the project of the perfect holiday dress as an annual challenge, and in a city ripe with wonderful boutiques that craft their own independently manufactured goods, you have a heap of options for the perfect look to don your gay apparel.
For your holiday convenience, here’s a roundup of my favorite boutique house lines.
The first place I’d look for a holiday party dress is Haunt at the 811 East Burnside Building. Not only is designer Holly Stalder among the most beloved and revered designers in the city, her boutique also has a stunning array of gifts and jaw-dropping, classically beautiful dresses to take the prize at your soirée. Stalder is working with luscious forest-toned velvets that drape beautifully off the body and garner a regal, royal mystique.
While in the 811 Building, hop into Six/Seven for unrivaled modernity in the architecture of designer Liza Rietz’ garments. If you want to look high-fashion yet cool and effortless, you must check out this designer. There’s poetry in every detail, which is clear to the sewing aficionado—to the casual viewer, it looks boss as hell. For holidays, Rietz is working in asymmetrical dresses with lovely silky metallic textiles.
As for veteran boutique house lines, don’t miss Portland treasure Folly Boutique, where designer Sarah Bibb creates ready-to-wear dresses that are simultaneously understated and sophisticated enough for Hollywood red carpets. Her dresses are some of my favorite, because she focuses on timeless standards of silhouette. This season you’ll find the Jason Cardi cardigan—light and bright, it can be worn all year. Bibb’s thought on this look: “A lot of you celebrate the holidays at a bar or other casual places, so we’ve focused a lot of our holiday gear on a special piece, like a sparkly sweater that can be paired with your favorite jeans.”
Different holiday events require different degrees of fanciness. For the family gathering/eat-a-thon, I want comfort AND contour, as well as something that makes me feel beautiful and festive. Thankfully, there’s Amelia Boutique on Alberta, where designer Amelia Blakeman makes classic dresses that will become wardrobe staples. I have owned my Amelia dress for six years and it still doesn’t miss a beat. When asked about this season, Blakeman said, “We’re all about our Snuggle Cocoon sweaters. With a fitted cuff and a draped dolman silhouette, these sweaters look great layered over a fitted dress or skinny jeans, and are lightweight enough to layer under a coat. While they feel cozy and casual, the shape is an effortlessly stylish way to dress up your look.”
Speaking of ease of wear, I can ALWAYS trust Mink Boutique to keep me looking chic, sophisticated, and silhouetted. Designer Carla Mink has an eye for balance and creates garments that flatter the form. When asked about holiday apparel, Mink said, “If you’re gonna get a piece that’s special, make sure you can think of ways you can wear it in everyday life. Velvet, metallic, and sparkle are all on trend right now, so it’s easy to take something from night to day by simply changing your footwear and accessories.” Her metallic dress, the Billy Funnel Neck, is a catchall holiday showstopper!
The ready-to-wear game is strong and well crafted at Montavilla boutique Union Rose, where designer Rita Hudson-Evalt manufactures her flagship line, Hubris. She approaches this season in a way most of us can relate to: “My favorite thing is still tunics with tall boots! A classic workhorse outfit for the Northwest.” The Hubris sweater dress is a no-brainer for the season!
Two newer boutique house lines one shouldn’t miss are One Imaginary Girl (my new obsession) and Moore Custom Goods, which boasts a line of gender-neutral apparel. (Awesome!) Both companies are textile-driven and have an assortment of holiday offerings that will up your game. At One Imaginary Girl, the skirt stealing the show is the Stars Above Us raffia midi skirt, which designer Sarah Donofrio says, “is a classic and a rule breaker, combining holiday glitz with a pastel color palette.” At Moore, you’ll find similar pops of color and see where your garment is made!