Holidays mean dressing up
Like Christmas traditions vary from country to country so do the traditions of what to wear for the holiday. The one thing in common around the World is that Christmas celebrations ask for dressing up. No matter whether you spend the day with the wider family, go to church or have brunch at a restaurant. In some countries, even special wear exists for the holiday. Some are tastless, kitschy like the ugly holiday sweater, some are a longterm wardrobe additions that you wear over and over again. Here I am not talking about Christmas jewelry.
In this post, I show you how dressing for the holiday looks in various countries and even regions.
Holiday dressing in the Old World
In Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary), Christmas Eve (December 24) is the day for the gifting and celebrations. The food is more like that of a fasting day like potato salad with Wienners. Typically, this day is celebrated in the close family, i.e. only the parents and their underage kids. In conservative family, Sunday’s Best does the trick. Otherwise a posh casual skirt look is ok. The 25th is reserved for Chruch and family visits with the grandparents and in-laws. An elevated version of Sunday’s Best or new clothing (for kids) is common expectation.
When I was a kid, only St. Nicholas would wear red-white and black. However, not on December 25, but on December 6, the St. Nicholas’ Day. He looks like Santa Claus, however, he was totally disconnected form the holiday. It also wasn’t a day off. Just kids would put their boots outside their room on St. Nicholas’ Day Eve and would wake up to find the boots filled with cookies, a little toy and sometime a piece of clothes. If they had behaved they would find a bunch of twigs. They were supposed to be used by Knecht (knight) Ruprecht to hit the kid for punishment.
Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, the Christmas Child. It was the Child who would bring the gifts.
Half of the family on my partental side are Dutch. I remember my Dutch Greataunts and great cousins wearing black dresses or black skirts with floral blouses with black background and booties for holidays and celebrations of all kinds. Nancy of Nancy’s Fashion Style presents a typical Christmas look, but way more stylish.
Note that in the Netherlands, St. Nicholas is called Sinterklaas. He has the same role like in middle Europe. On the contrary, Santa Claus is called Kristman and comes from Lappland in Finland to bring gifts.
I don’t know about you, but I always google for the photos of what the Royals wore for going to church on the 25th. It’s understated solid colors and occassionally a plaid coat, simple hats and pantyhose for the women and black. Ok, there also exists the (mandatory?) ugly Xmas sweater outfit family photo from The Observer. I wonder whether it’s photoshopped.
In the British tradition, Emma of Style Splash wears an understated look. A black with gold sequin skirt with a black top with trompet statement sleeves. So cool eclectic chic.
Holiday dressing in the New World
Here on the other side of the pond, styling Christmas outfits is complicated. It may even need some planning outfits ahead. It all depends on where you go, what the plans are, who is company, and the time of the day. This may mean changing the look several times that day.
You can find much more about wearing the right look in every life situation in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy my book now.
Casual with family and friends holiday look
When I was in High School in the early 80s, one of my friends knitted a sweater in purple and a pink Santa Claus riding his sled with several reindeers. I asked her why she spends so much time on making a sweater that she can only wear in a time slot of 26 days (Recall in Germany, they celebrate on December 25 and 26.).
In other words, I never understood the ugly Xmas-sweater thing until Andy of Pearl and Pantsuits made me revise my pre-justice. Her version of this traditional All American Must-have looks like a graphic T-shirt with long sleeves, and I love graphic tees. Her outfit is perfect for playing with the kids or sitting on the couch, drinking coco and munching cookies while watching the Nutcracker, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Edelweiss, The Shop Around the Corner (known in Europe as You’ve Got Mail) or other holiday movies.
Cocktail with friends at a resort
This time of the year means travel for many Americans. Either for family reunions or vacation. Both often are at a resort. There the adults often meet at the bar for cocktails after dinner. Robin LaMonte of Hello I’m 50ish is perfectly dressed for after dinner drinks. This look is easy to pack too. It works because of the pops of red with the statement necklace and pumps.
Like in Europe black always works. Suzanne the wardrobe stylist of Ask Suzanne Bell went for a black sequin skirt, classic top and feather embellished sleeve cardigan to create a festive outfit.
Cynthia Scurry of Middle Sister Style wears a sequin top with a layered see-thru maxi skirt. Perfect for a fancy Holiday party.
Like these outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.
Julie, one of the authors of Fashion, Trends and Friends, shows a great outfit inspiration for a party at the office. Note that plaid in any color would work as this pattern is associated with the season.
Nina of Sharing a Journey wears a Southern going-to-church look. She lives in Florida. It looks like she has a White Christmas.
What will you wear on December 25? Have you already made your plans? How is your gift shopping list doing? Just curious.
Welcome to our Stylish Monday Christmas party.
Let’s see what other stylish women are wearing.
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Photos courtesy to these bloggers
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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