Dressing in comfort is a joy at holiday parties

December 19, 1990|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

One of the pleasures of holiday parties is getting all dressed up in your glittery finest.

Which also happens to be one of the major drawbacks to holiday parties.

All too often, dress-up clothes are the most confining, restrictive, downright uncomfortable garments we own. Despite conventional wisdom, no fashion rule says a certain level of discomfort is required for clothes to qualify as party-appropriate.

With the trend toward entertaining smaller, more intimate groups in more casual, at-home settings, dressing down when you dress up can be pretty simple. Even if you're throwing (or attending) a fancy, la-ti-da do this season, there's plenty of room for comfort.

We're not suggesting you pass up a chance to dazzle your friends with your sartorial brilliance. Or that there is no place for full-length taffeta ball gowns or boned bustiers that lace up like girdles for your lungs. We're simply pointing out that it's possible to be dazzling and breathe easy. Especially this season, when designers' infatuation with sporty shapes and stretch fabrics lends new meaning to "comfort clothes."

The key is to pair the easy-fitting comfort of casual weekend shapes with the elegant glamour of formal-wear fabrics.

Perhaps the least complicated way to go is to wear a big, cozy sweater maybe shot with glittery Lurex threads over a pair of comfy stretch leggings or stirrup pants in a luxurious material such as velour, velvet or even suede.

If second-skin leggings aren't your style, try thinking sweats. Now, we'd never suggest you wear a ratty running suit to a holiday gathering, but we have seen velour sweat pants (not the baggy, full-cut style) in jewel tones of red, blue, purple or green that could easily go to a party under an oversized sweater. Please, pass up the spike-heeled pumps in favor of the easy elegance of suede slip-on flats.

Even more eye-catching allure comes with embellishments such as rhinestone studs, beading or even something as theatrical as feathered sleeves. These over-the-top touches may be especially appealing if you're the hostess.

Advantages to keeping clothes simple?

Comfort, of course, tops the list.

But it also means you can afford to overdose on dramatic, glitzy accessories; long, sparkling earrings are almost mandatory. Other choices include giant rhinestone bangles and multiple strands of pearls or bright glass beads.

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