Holiday Party? Highlight Your Strengths

| Dec 25, 2017

An elegant Christmas affair.

Hello, Dear Readers, and best wishes of the season, whichever season that is for you. I know there are many from which to choose; and, as the song tells us, to every thing, turn, turn, turn, there is a season. Well, one of the hallmarks of this time of year is the event most anticipated and often dreaded: The Christmas Party. But which party? The “office party,” the local bar party, the Renaissance trans support group party, the family party, and the one that gives us the most agita — that one from last year, when you got hammered and flirted with the wrong person, dropped your wig in the punch, and woke up in the back seat of your car — in someone else’s driveway.

So, the first question that leaps to mind-what should I wear?! Do I need a different outfit for each event? Can I wear the same shoes? What the hell did I wear for that last party, and dare I even go back? Does that hostess have a restraining order against me?

Let’s take it step by step. Obviously, the most pressing issue is the Abject Humiliation fest! Best choice here is to call somebody who also went to that last soiree, and try to discern 1) what happened? 2) Do you think anyone noticed? 3) does anybody have my wig? When the incredulous laughter dies down, and you know that party is eternally off limits to you, it’s time to Wardrobe Up.

Don’t wear your ugly sweater to a swanky party.

Your first step should always be calling the hostess or somebody else you know will be attending and ask them what sort of attire they will be sporting! This is important if it is a themed party — i. e., an Ugly Sweater party, swanky holiday ‘do, costume event, dress to impress, et cetera. The only one you really have to worry about is — you guessed it — Dress To Impress!

So, the modern lady goes to the computer and to magazines, Pinterest, and calls Angela Gardner. At least, that’s what I do. Most of us know somebody like Ange who knows how and where to shop, and if you are seriously lucky, she’ll not only give you ideas, she may even go with you to help pick out something devastating! But before that call, the Research. What are ladies wearing to parties?

Velvet items are huuuge in any festive winter scenario; a dress, a jacket, blouse or pants — any of these can be festive as all get-out. Fancy brocades, sequined bits, shiny stuff, all are swell. Here’s been my go-to plan for fancy dressing for many years, and it works well: Pick one thing you wish to highlight, whether it’s a comely bust, a set of knock-out pins, a waspy wittle waist, or some other thing of which you are proud. (Or if you are Jone M, all of these things.) Do you have legs for days? That’s your thing to highlight. You get the picture. Now that you’ve narrowed it down, visit the Repository of Dreams — your wardrobe! Let’s say you’ve decided on a great blouse or jacket, with pants or a skirt. Do your have one!?! Of course not! But I bet you have other pieces that will go with the new one. So, girl up, hijack a friend, and hit the stores.

A blue crushed velvet blazer.

My first stop is always the nicer thrift and resale shops, in ritzier neighborhoods. The Junior League shops, hospital auxiliary shops attached to the tonier hospitals, Goodwill and Salvation Armies in excellent neighborhoods. Also Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor — turns out they are not just for tiny, depraved teenagers! I have gotten unbelievable and gorgeous pieces in such shops — embroidered silk blouses, black velvet jeans, “statement” jewelry, lovely vintage jackets, all wicked affordable. Most places such as this will have a dressing room, and one must try on these items. Or wiggle into them over your own well-fitting clothes. Love it? It it very close to fitting, but maybe too long? I can usually alter it to fit!

If this approach fails, my next step is to visit places like Nordstrom Rack, and the Last Act at Macy’s. If you have the time, these spots are gold mines! Most towns and cities have places like this, and you can find yourself that one devastating piece upon which to build your Holiday Knockout Look.  

When you have zeroed in on the One Item, you are then free to build around it. Got a killer velvet or silk-brocade jacket? It can go to one party accessorized with nice jeans, or well-fitting pants, or a flirty little skirt; a top might be a simple silk blouse, or a snazzy knit tank with a low neck, or a soft sweater. Or top off a plain but well-fitted dress with the jacket, add a subtle scarf, heels or sky-high boots and you’re set. The best part of this approach to party dressing is that you can use the one (or two) Fabulous Finds in tons of different combinations, so that you don’t need to buy five new things — just one or two, and then get creative.

Cheers, Skoal, L’chaim, Lavriot, Slainte, Happy New Year-and, as always, remember your dignity.

Lorraine Anderson is the proprietor of The Occasional Woman, a custom clothing and alteration service in the Philadelphia, Pa. area.

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Category: Fashion, Style

About the Author ()

I am a native Californian who has been based in the Philadelphia area since 1984. My first CD fashion creation was a gold lamé dress for the now esteemed editor of this publication. Since then I have made tons of fabulous frocks and other fashion apparel for the crossdressing and transgender community. Visit my website, The Occasional Woman or my Facebook page.

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  1. Tasi Zuriack says:

    Lorraine is definitely spot-on about the velvet look…it’s the go to look for this season. You can learn more in my last months post about velvet here Just wish we had a few of those great resale shops here in Merida. What I do is find the look I love and take it to my custom dressmaker. Labor is cheap here so are affordable custom dresses are affordable…yea!