Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Versatile for the holidays

Lots of opportunities to wear well-chosen separates long after after the celebrations

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TORONTO -- While a shimmering sequinned mini may not necessarily be appropriate attire for the office, not all of the party wear needs to be packed away when the holiday season winds down.

"Nobody is reinventing their closet every season. It's not reality," said Alia Ahmed-Yahia, chief style director for Loft.

"You want to make sure the pieces you're buying for the holidays are hard-working in the sense that you're not buying a party dress just to go to one party."

Making a statement

Chunky necklaces and oversized cocktail rings have long packed a punch as go-to statement pieces. But heading into the holidays, boldly coloured and patterned apparel are also stylish standouts adding eye-catching pop to party wear.

"You normally think of that special piece that you're buying as a really beautiful printed top or a sequinned cardigan -- but pants are so special this season," said Ahmed-Yahia.

Super-skinny pairs are being seen in rich jewel tones and bright hues like cherry red, while pants are also being offered in a range of fabrics, she noted.

"You could really play with colour on top as well, but I think a really interesting special pair of pants in a texture like jacquard, lace, sequins or a bright colour is definitely going to be something that feels very festive for the holidays," said Ahmed-Yahia. "But again, you're also going to be able to re-style it."

Colourful pants emerged as a must-have in the warmer months and have transitioned through fall, continuing through to the holiday season. Expect to see the gravitation towards brighter hues in bottoms carry on when temperatures rise in the new year.

"Colour in pants, especially casual pants, and now we're seeing it in wear-to-work pants, is a trend that's going to continue," said Ahmed-Yahia.

"It's not something that next season you're going to pull out and realize no one's wearing coloured pants.

"You're going to pair it back to something sparkly on top -- like a great neutral black sequinned shell -- and a bright pair of pants. And as we move into spring, you can transition into spring's neutrals," she added. "You're going to see this base palette of beiges, lighter shades, pastels."

Shimmer and shine

Sparkle may conjure visions of a head-to-toe sequinned number, but Ahmed-Yahia says it's all about subtlety in incorporating a touch of shimmer into your holiday -- and post-holiday -- ensembles.

For example, a long-sleeved tee with a touch of sequins can be paired with jeans or dressed up by tucking it into a party skirt, she noted.

Bold blazer

Jacob spokeswoman Cristelle Basmaji said a blazer teamed with a beautiful blouse offers an ensemble wearable during the workday and after-hours -- not to mention the perfect balance between feminine and masculine styles. But once the festive season has wrapped, no need to tuck the tux away.

The longtime formal-wear staple for men has been staking out its spot in women's wardrobes for some time, notably contrast colour lapels on jackets in various hues offering a chic twist on the classic style.

Basmaji suggested replacing a more festive blouse with an all-black top and teaming the white tuxedo blazer with a pair of black pants help ensure your investment piece will get plenty of wear through the winter and once the weather warms up.

Pretty peplum

Fans of ultra-feminine fashion may want to get a little ruffled for the holidays. Basmaji suggesting opting for a dress style with peplum detailing which helps create the illusion of an hourglass figure -- regardless of the body type. Adding a jewelled belt helps to complete the festive look.

The dress can be paired with a blazer as the months wear on. But there may be some women who are concerned this particular peplum style may feel too fancy for everyday wear or outside of formal occasions. In that instance, Basmaji suggests opting instead for a skirt featuring the eye-catching ruffled detail encircling the waistline which may be easier to incorporate into the spring wardrobe.

Lovely lace

Lace has shown its staying power for several seasons, from demure accents on accessories to full-scale apparel creations fashioned from the sheer, patterned material.

"Lace has been reinvented in modern silhouettes, said Ahmed-Yahia. She suggests teaming a pullover lace T-shirt with a sequinned camisole for a little shine to show through, or going for basics with a solid-coloured top.

Beyond basic black, lush cream and winter white, the delicate fabric is also being steeped in bolder shades for the holidays.

Basmaji suggests topping a richly-hued lace dress with faux fur and sporting a bold, multicoloured statement necklace to complete the festive ensemble. But post-holiday, consider swapping out the shrug with an alternative topper for your lace number.

"If you add a nice little soft blazer over top, a flowing blazer or a black cardigan with jewel button details you can definitely wear it again season after season," said Basmaji. "Remove the tights in the spring season... and you can wear this dress over and over again."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 E10

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