Holiday decorations should include yourself

December 11, 1997|By Jean Patteson | Jean Patteson,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

The holidays are upon us. We're about to be swept into the whirl of planning menus, writing cards, wrapping presents and decorating the tree.

But what about decorating ourselves?

"Remember, what you put on helps create a holiday mood. In a sense, when you wear something special, you're decorating yourself for the festive season," says Kim Johnson Gross, co-author (with Jeff Stone) of the Chic Simple series of books.

"I'm no different from most women. I'm a daughter, wife, mother. I have a job, community involvements, a social life," says Gross.

"Our books are a response to this rich, full, hectic life. They're about how to simplify our lifestyle without sacrificing economy, comfort or style."

Her own look -- sleek blond hairstyle, chic black dress, simple diamond pin, classic black pumps -- perfectly illustrated that philosophy.

The Chic Simple approach to holiday dressing is, well, simple.

"All you need is a basic dress-up-occasion wardrobe and a collection of embellishments. For me, this means black basics, plus some little black bags, a red lipstick and pearls," Gross says.

"When the holidays come around, you're busy entertaining, gift-buying. You don't need to be reinventing yourself. That's too overwhelming, too expensive. Get just one new item -- a satin blazer or vest -- or change the buttons on a favorite blouse. It makes all the difference."

Before assembling your holiday wardrobe, check your calendar, she says.

Know what special events are coming up, and what kind of clothes you'll need -- casual, dressy, formal.

"Next, de-junk your closet. Try on all your holiday clothes. Keep just the ones you enjoy wearing -- and that still fit. Then go out and get the missing ingredients.

For example, buy the right shoes for that cocktail dress you adore but never wear because you don't have the right shoes.

Her one stipulation: Each item must be well-designed, of good quality, really suit you and make your life easier. And it need not cost a lot.

In her "Chic Simple Clothes" book, she recommends both the Cartier Tank watch ($3,000) and the Timex Mercury watch ($30), because "both occupy a niche of functionality and design elegance that is tremendous."

Here are some strategies suggested by Gross for building a Chic Simple-style holiday wardrobe:

Buy a black dress. "Why black? Because it hides stains, detracts from bad tailoring, makes inexpensive fabric look good, is seasonless, goes great with any other color, can work with any style from classic to funky, lets you stand out or blend in, seduce or repel -- and makes you look as if you've lost 10 pounds."

Look for an evening sweater or two. Gross' favorite is a sweater set in a festive red. For a dinner party, she suggested wearing it with a slim, knee-length skirt. For a gala affair, put it with a long, bouffant skirt in red taffeta. For a daytime or casual evening affair, just add classic black trousers.

Also useful is a black, beaded, cardigan-style evening sweater, which can be thrown over almost anything.

Accumulate distinctive accessories. "They have the power to transform simple clothes into something special, to create a mood, to accent your best features," Gross says.

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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