Festive Holiday Fashion Design Trends for 2006

by Kate Robb
Fashion School Review Columnist

November 17, 2006

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Ah, the holidays. 'Tis the season of sleigh bells, carols, and hot chocolate. And office parties. And church functions. And cocktail parties. And at least two (ok, three) new outfits. The holidays are a time of giving for sure, but if you're like me, they're also a time to indulge your inner fashion diva. At no other time of the year are there so many social functions compressed into such a short amount of time. If there was ever a time to love fashion design, the holiday season is it.

Those in fashion marketing and clothing design know that people are especially open to checking out new fashions during the holidays. Independent retailers, department stores, and discounters alike bring in new clothing collections to meet this demand. And fashionistas aren't alone in the holiday clothing splurge. This year consumers expect to spend an average of nearly $1,200 on holiday gifts alone, which is up 17 percent from last year. And projections show that people are planning to spend more money on clothes this year than last.

To sail through the holiday fashion maze, consider the following fashion dos and don'ts. These tips will help you to look your best for every holiday function this season.

  • Stick with classic colors. There's a reason grey, black, and red never go out of fashion. They can combine Hepburn style class with Chloe Sevigny edge in the same outfit. This year though, go with deep red. No candy-apple crewnecks, please.
  • Find your inner animal. Animal prints come back in style every few years, and now's the time. Expect to find everything from silk scarves to bangles to knee high boots in your favorite wild print. But these are no 80s style pink and purple zebras. Look for the authentic animal colors.
  • Buy a "little black dress." When fashion design's grande dame Coco Chanel introduced the little black dress in the 1900s, she wanted to make fashion accessible and modern. Merci Beaucoup, Ms. Chanel. Buy this fashion design staple and you can get away with wearing it to every party on your list. Simply switch out the pearls for the leopard print shawl and you're ready.
  • Redefine velvet. Yes, I know you're remembering that burgundy jumper you wore to church in first grade, but there's so much more to velvet. Think hip-hugging formal skirts, extra long scarves, and jacket accents.
  • Buy a cape. The essential cover-all that manages to convey class and mystery in the same sweeping turn is back. Look for lined wool with big designer buttons at the neck. And make sure you perform at least one public, arm-wide spin to announce your presence, a la Mary Tyler Moore.

  • Wear "holiday camouflage." Red, green, and gold are the colors of the season, and they look warm and lovely throughout your house. But they will not look lovely on you in the form of a red turtleneck, green flowing skirt, and gold earrings. First rule of fashion design: You should stand out from the scenery, not blend in.
  • Be too couture. Fashion week or a night at Hyde or Bungalow 8 with the girls is one thing, but couture is too often misunderstood. Remember, your holiday audience may not have spent the collective hours studying clothing design you have. For Uncle Charlie and Aunt Gertrude, your haute couture might leave them cold.
  • Stick with stilettos: Thanks to the fashion design gods, stilettos and their wobbly snow-diving selves can stay on the shelf this winter. This winter, utility is getting a new hip, edgy image with chunky or stacked heels. Go forth in comfort, my friends.
  • Totally give in to comfort. The holidays can be a stressful time of year, but don't give in to the stress (or chocolate) of the season by wearing your favorite drawstring pants to all the festivities. Even if they are in a pretty pastel color and expensive, they're still sweatpants.

If you're looking at your social calendar with a mix of excitement and nerves, relax. Use this time to think about what fashion design choices matter to you. Forget what the marketing experts say and stick to a plan of dressing, giving, and celebrating that suits you perfectly.


About the Author
Kate Robb is a freelance writer and a university professor.

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