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Decoding Holiday Casual

With the holidays come the party invitations. The dress code is always the same: “Holiday Casual.” And, you’re wondering: What the heck does that mean? Stress no more. I gotcha covered. Holiday casual translates into everything and anything except true cocktail or black tie. If you want to go the denim route, make it a dark wash, trouser jean. This is a nice alternative to black trousers. On top, I love a solid mock turtleneck draped with a cashmere shrug. Check out the “mini” — an edgy, sophisticated shrug that turns an ordinary top into a fabulous twin set — it works on any body type and comes in all of fall’s hottest colors (head to Melanie Gayle for handmade woven chenille and ribbon versions by Brooke Rydman). A silk-satin, peep-toe platform pump from Pedro Garcia or a Kate Spade suede, platform peep toe in gray from Neiman Marcus completes the look. Add opaque or textured knee-highs and your look is complete.

What about the ultimate fallback: the little black dress? If you have to ask yourself, “is it a little black dress or is it a tunic?” it’s a tunic (especially if you are over 40). Don it over your jeans for an enviable chic-yet-effortless look. I like the tunics/dresses from Jenny Haan at Melanie Gayle. A tunic over jeans hides a multitude of sins. Read: muffin top.

Black trousers are also a can’t-miss when the invite reads holiday casual. Alice & Olivia make one of the best pants on the market, with a cut to suit all body types (find them at Elements and Tootsies).

Turn your black pants into something special with a ¾ sleeve cropped jacket (which is quite slimming) and a fitted, long-sleeve turtleneck underneath. Melanie Gayle carries a bell sleeve jacket from Thorn that is perfect. Add a heel or a dressy flat, plus some great earrings, and you will be the belle of the ball.

Don’t forget an evening purse. Nothing ruins a look more than carrying your everyday bag when you’re all dressed up. Pick up one of the fabulous clutches from BCBG that pair splendidly with dressed up denim, as well as a little black dress. Cheers!