How to find the holiday party pizazz in your every day wardrobe

Stylist Ranee Kamens with Simplify Me shares her secrets for taking your every day pieces from ordinary to extraordinary for the 2012 holiday party season!

I’ve been working with my female clients on dressing for this year’s round of holiday parties. To me, there’s nothing more fun than playing dress-up, especially when it’s for a festive occasion. Many of us are broke or just don’t want to cough up the money for a whole new outfit right now, and really, you do not have to at all! The way to spruce up or “holiday-ize” any look is with sparkle, texture, brights and accessories. If I go to one more party where everyone is in jeans, I will scream! Ladies, please!

Let’s start at the top and work our way down to the feet:

HAIR:   Do you normally wear your hair down? How about pulling your hair into a smooth, low ponytail with a bow (pulled off the Christmas tree) or a fun sparkly headband? (Claire’s has a sequin row headband for $3.50 and one with a glitter bow for $5.50) Maybe try an up-do with rhinestone barrettes clipped into the messy bits. Are you tired of your hair altogether? Visit Halcyon or any vintage boutique and stand out with a retro hat. That’s always chic. For a sparkly take on a more modern-yet-casual look, check out these hats at Buckle. They also have great accessories and scarves, which takes us to our next category …

Holiday JewelryNECK:  Every woman has some jewelry and some scarves. Take them out of their boxes, go through your drawers (or ask your mother for hers), and put on the biggest, loudest, most fancy or most interesting things you can find. Try a broach on your wool jacket or blazer lapel. Wear grandma’s pearls or rhinestone bracelet. Think “Bling!” Don’t know how to tie a scarf? Watch this amazing video!

BLOUSE/SHIRT:  The blouse or shirt you choose all depends on the whole look you’re going for, but I often pull out the same “go-to” sequined or beaded party tops that I have held onto for seasons. They always make me feel festive and in the mood for the party before I even get there.  Satin tops are also a party fave—nice deep colors, like bright pink, deep red or gold. Think about blouses with bows that tie, billowy sleeves, shiny buttons, pleating, embellished collars, and other details that will bump up your “see-me quotient.” How about lace—another fun and festive holiday-wear staple? Who cares if it’s a summer tank top? Add a simple solid cardigan and go. If you’re wearing a skirt, flip the switch with a favorite rock t-shirt with a simple, staid pencil skirt.

DRESS:  If you are wearing a dress that your friends and family have already seen, try adding a belt to it.  Go to Target or perhaps one of the shops at Short Pump Town Center, such as LOFT and New York and Co., and for under $20, you can get a patent leather, a brightly colored or an animal print belt to break up the dress at the waist or a few inches below. Try a belt with a bow for a girly look or maybe a studded leather skinny belt for an edgier look. A metallic or glittery belt works with almost any color. A belt can help transform a dress, define your waist, and help remind you when to stop stuffing your face with cheese balls.

LEGS:  Another easy way to take your look to “holiday” is through beautiful, fancy patterned hose. Look for a shine or sparkle or maybe just a bright color, like a cobalt blue leg, to accent a black dress.

SHOES:  Like all the rest, I suggest a metallic or a bright color. I love a heel for a party—if you can’t wear heels at a party, then when?

Holiday is the time to shine—literally! There’s no reason why you cannot be dazzling and daring and have a little fun with your fashion. The holidays are the best time to try some of these daring new looks—and who knows? Maybe you’ll find some looks you like so much, you’ll find ways to use them to spice up your style all year long!

Ranee Kamens is a stylist and designer with nearly 20 years of experience in the New York City fashion industry. Now based in Richmond, she started a business called Simplify Me, where she primarily works with local clients and their closets finding solutions to better suit their needs and help them dress and shop for their current body type and style. She helps identify which pieces to keep and which to update. Then, with the remaining items, she shows them how to pull an outfit together. She writes the “Style Cues” column in Belle Magazine, teaches a “Closet Audit” class at UR, teaches fashion classes at VCU, and sells antiques locally.