Stylist Advice- How to jazz up a conservative red holiday dress
Dear Sharon: I’m wearing this holiday red shiny Tahari dress with an open portrait neckline to my husband’s company Christmas party.
I am wondering what shoes and jewelry to wear with it. Thanks! (H.E. via Fashion Advice)
I’ve spent some time pondering if I should sugarcoat this or not, and I need to be both truthful to you and to my professional style aesthetics.
I have to be honest here, I don’t love the dress.
It’s a bit matronly in that it has that strange styling combination of simultaneously being both fussy and conservative with not much excitement in the cut– it most definitely needs some styling work to tzuj it up!
FYI: With the right styling, fab accessorizing, and a few nips & tucks, most anything can be made to look stunning. But style is a lot like cooking, start out with fresh ingredients and the result is delish and easy. Why, get complicated to not look dated?
Keep in mind that merchandise usually looks better in a picture than it does in person, so I’m going to try to take the silhouette at face value. It may, indeed, look gorgeous on you and flatter your figure. But the photo wrecks my nerves.
You asked, I’ve got to tell. There’s no doubt that you can do better with a dress that has a more modern flair– and doesn’t need as much extra styling– while there is still time to return this one.
I’ll help you update your red holiday dress with some styling tips, but in my stylist opinion, a dress like this Kate Spade New York Minty Fit-And-Flare Dress has more modern pizzazz and the same general silhouette.
For inspiration, here’s a dozen fit and flare dresses that have the same general shape and mood but are far more modern and fresh as the red dress at the top, and therefore, less aging.
Let’s talk about a flattering cut first. While the fit and flare style of your red dress is forgiving to fuller hips, the very open portrait neckline, in combination with the fussy ruffly collar, spotlights a whole lot of neck and shoulder line that may not be to everyone’s best advantage. So, exposing that much bare skin care be problematic if you have wrinkles, a double chin, or are built fuller on top. That neckline & collar combination is also tricky if you need to wear a jacket or coverup. If, that’s not your concern, you’re good to go.
If you are gung ho on THIS dress , let’s style it modern!
The matching belt looks heavy to me with all the openness around the neckline. Swap it out with a soft metallic belt like the one pictured here to add interest and balance the top of the dress.
I’d opt for some chunky bangles and a fab gold rectangle clutch bag to draw the eye down and add graphic interest. Avoid anything around your neck that competes with the fussy neckline.
>> RELATED: What to Wear to an office holiday party
Although the catalog photo shows a model with her hair up, I would opt for hair worn down with soft, yet undone, volume to balance the line and take away from the prissiness. A dash of rich ruby matte lipstick will glam it up. I love NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Moscow.
For shoes, rather than going with the expected, I would pair a black and gold combination in a refined, yet up to the minutes, classic style. Check these out:
The best styling should look off-handed and spontaneous. When you have a dress that is conservative veering on plain, you need to pay special attention to the details to amp up the look without appearing contrived. A few touches of the right accessories, along with easy hair and clean, modern makeup, will have you looking holiday glam at your husband’s office Christmas party.
JUST ASK: Do you need some quick stylist help to amp up your style? Email us for Fashion Advice.
Published on November 13, 2012
Resident fashion expert & style mentor- With just about 20 years experience in the glamour industry as a New York-based photography fashion stylist, syndicated columnist, contributing editor, lecturer, on-air television/radio fashion expert, and founder / editor in chief of FocusOnStyle.com. Sharon Haver knows the modern-thinking woman wants easygoing style that suits her individual needs, spiced with just the right amount of flip and wit to make it personal.