Getting comfy in style for the holidays


Dressing up to visit family on Christmas day or to attend the holiday office party is a style balancing act.

You are expected to look polished. But you want to be respectful and comfy as well.

And don’t forget the quandary as to what wear at those New Year’s Eve bashes.

Several local and state fashion experts offered their thoughts on what to wear under the mistletoe or as the clock rings in the new year.

“I would look for materials that work for you,” said Katrina Orsini of Naugatuck, the founder of Hartford Fashion Week. “As far as comfort, a big thing for me is warmth. From mid-November to mid-March, I am practically always freezing, partly because I think I run a little cooler than most and partly because the Italian men in my family refuse to turn up the heat.”

More specifically toward the holidays, said Orsini, who is working on her master’s in History of Design and Curatorial Studies at New York City’s Parsons School of Design, “Velvets are making a big splash in trends right now and it is a great material because their pile weave almost always keeps me warm and the way the material catches the holiday lights at this time of the year always looks chic.”

Wolcott’s Alyssa Anderson, who used to be a prom stylist and exhibited her style on the Miss Connecticut stage, said she looks toward faux leather motor leggings, fur jackets, oversized sweaters, and turtlenecks for her preferred holiday look.

Jessi Mar-Ewart, who hosts “Chat It Up” on AccessTV in Hartford, also cited sweaters as a go-to holiday look — in this case, sweater dresses. He suggested pairing the sweater dress with colored leggings and ankle boots.

“”I am totally loving the sweater dresses too,” said Samantha Anderson, a former Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen and part-time fashion model. Plus, she said, “I’m a sucker for emerald green… So that combo with a pair of tall boots (is a must). I think curly hair is a must for holiday fashion, too.”

“If you opt to wear a dress or skirt, tights can be a great accessory,” said Waterbury fashion stylist Hannah Vitarelli. “I prefer to wear pattern tights to dress up a plain outfit. Stripes, polka dots, or a floral design can add an extra need touch. They are perfect for comfort and warmth.”

Ewart, who also is assistant production manager for New York Summer Fashion Explosion, suggested thigh high boots with a mini skirt or dress as a good wardrobe selection on Christmas day.

Another skirt and dress option, said Vitarelli, is the midi dress. “Midi is the new mini. Try wearing either a midi skirt or dress for a holiday party. They are comfortable and flattering on so many different shapes and sizes. Midi skirts and dresses are a hot season trend, so they can be found in so many colors, patterns, and textures. Pair them with a blouse or sweater and a strappy heel or my favorite, a pair of statement ankle booties.”

Ewart also suggested a trench coat dress for the holidays. Ewart, a board member of Hartford Fashion Week, cited “Popping bottoms with darker tone tops” as a look that can be rocked at those holiday parties. If you’re willing to be more casual, he said, a long-sleeved top paired with some skinny jeans will keep you stylish.

If slacks are your thing, Vitarelli said palazzo pants are one comfortable option. “If you’re someone who prefers to wear pants versus a skirt or dress, palazzo pants are the way to go. They are fun, fashionable, and comfy. I would definitely opt for a statement pair such as a bold color or sequins… Pair them with a comfy knit sweater and a pair of booties or heels.”

As you eye your New Year’s night on the town, Waterbury’s Laurye Natale, owner of Dazzle Boutique in Oxford, offered some insight into that dimension of holiday fashion. Slacks also figure into her suggestions.

If you want to forego the look of a skirt, said Natale. “(A) fashion trend that is still going strong is the jumpsuit… (F)rom simple to full bling – anything goes, as long as it has pant legs.”

And if you are indeed eyeing a skirt or dress for New Year’s Eve, Natale said, “Styles for the upcoming holiday season range from simple classic to full beading when it comes to short cocktail dresses.”

“The LBD (little black dress) is still the standard,” said Natale, “however, you will also see shades of metallics: silver, bronze, gold and rose gold.”

“If you’re not one for the sparkle and shine of metallic fabrics, then navy and deep plum are also trending,” said Natale.

A model at the Kenneth Barlis show wears a mini dress and thigh high boots. (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)