Ask AB: Wardrobe Wisdom for the Holidays

MORE.com’s "Wardrobe Wizard," image consultant Annie Brumbaugh, tackles your toughest questions about size, fit, style, shopping, and holiday attire.

By Annie Brumbaugh

Office Party AttireDear Readers,Thank you for all your wonderful questions. The theme for this inaugural column is dressing for the holidays. I hope that you will find this information helpful as you plan what you will be wearing during this festive season.In January, we will focus on personal style and what is appropriate for you and for where you’re going. Many readers have indicated an interest in this topic. Please send your questions to me at AskAB@More.com. Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday, AnnieAnnie Brumbaugh, AICI, CIP www.abwardrobeworks.comPost-Work Holiday Party AttireQ. Our office party takes place immediately after work. Many people bring "evening outfits" to change into. I don’t like to bother. I’m 49, size 6 petite, and want something that I can incorporate into my wardrobe. Any suggestions for a reasonably priced, fun outfit? — Mary A. Thanks for your great question, Mary. There are a number of ways to change from day to night without changing your entire outfit or breaking the bank.The key to the quick-change act is separates. You could stick with a basic pant or skirt that you wear all day. If you change your top, voila! This can be something simple like the faux wrap sweater from Ann Taylor Loft ($49) in red or black. They also have a deep cowl-neck tunic ($44) that is drapey and chic. These items come in petite and regular sizes. There is also a basic camisole ($24) and a version with sequin trim ($29) to pair with the tops. Camis can be very useful in your wardrobe; they add a layer of warmth and, conversely, an escape route if you get hot. I’d suggest looking on the Web. You can take these ideas and recreate them in any store. Just think about getting a top that will make you feel glam. It can be a sweater, a blouse, or a tunic. Consider the fabric first, and make sure it feels good. Cashmere, wool, rayon, poly, silk, or a blend of these are good options. A little sparkle also goes a long way. How about some great earrings, a necklace, or bracelet? With this quick fix, you might not even need to change your top. Just wear something simple. Banana Republic has some great stuff: rhinestone or crystal bracelets ($18-24), darling diamond (well, cubic zirconia) earrings ($22 plain studs, $26 flower studs). I love the crystal daisy flower at $28. These are real wardrobe builders. There are more elaborate earrings and necklaces too. So, you see that a little bling does not necessitate a big cha-ching. It’s the holiday season, and you’re looking for some fun — but it won’t be fun if you hate yourself when the Visa bill arrives. Believe it or not, dress-up things don’t need to be costly. Just make sure you choose something that you love and that fits and flatters you.One final option is to simply change your shoes. A dramatic high heel says instant party, too. If you don’t have the feet for this approach, just say no and distract them with something on top. Do not let your feet hurt. You won’t have fun if they do.And, finally, don’t overdo it. One or two of the above may well suffice. After all, this is an office party, and you may not need your out-of-character vamp shoes to be a topic of conversation for weeks to come. Experiment a little and always use your judgment. You will know what is right for you and for where you’re going.Check out Ann Taylor Loft online Check out Banana Republic online Fashion for Larger SizesQ. It seems like formalwear for 40 and up is all BLACK! I am sick of it. I want to wear COLOR even though I am 50. Dresses in larger sizes seem to come only in brown, black, or navy. — ShpresaA. I applaud your desire for color, Shpresa, and you must have it! However, the whole outfit doesn’t need to be colorful. I would encourage you to think about separates. How about starting with some simple dark pieces — a tank or tunic with pants or a skirt? These versatile basics can be used in countless ways. Add a floaty duster in a color and/or pattern, a jacket, or a gorgeous shawl. Chico’s could be a good resource for you. For example, I love their plum velvet embroidered tunic (Noble Velvet Kamilla Shirt, $128). Now add some jewelry and terrific shoes, and you are set for many occasions to come. You’ll have much more ease and flexibility with separate pieces than with a dress.Check out Chicos online Q.

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