LONG OR SHORT?
"If the invitation says 'black tie,' you should wear a long gown. Several big events in Chattanooga have switched to black-tie optional. This allows you to choose cocktail dress or an evening gown. If the event is cocktail attire, short dresses are appropriate. ~ Emily Elizabeth Goodin
Undecided about what to wear to holiday parties this season?
For many women, there's no need to look beyond the closet for the little black dress. The classic style, introduced decades ago by Coco Chanel, is among the hottest styles this season. With a few well-chosen accessories, the LBD can hold its own with the latest trends.
"A sparkly shoe and a colorful clutch will make your little black dress pop," said Emily Goodin, owner of Boutique Couture on Market Street. "But if your dress is the statement, keep the accessories simple - maybe an oversized cocktail ring and simple diamond stud earrings."
Women looking to update their holiday wardrobes will find styles this year are all about glamour. Popular choices are vintage-inspired, fully sequined cocktail dresses and evening gowns in golds, deep greens, reds and charcoal gray, the top color of the season, according to Goodin.
"People are dressing up again," she said. "After a long bout of the tacky Christmas sweater, we're trending back to cocktail and evening attire for holiday parties."
Chattanoogan Barbara Rico, owner of Rico Monument Co., said she tries to add a few new items to her holiday attire each year.
"I follow the trends to see if the latest styles are something I could or would wear," she said. "I love some of the vintage-style dresses with the sequin jackets."
Laurie Shipley, of Chattanooga, a retirement plan specialist at Barnett & Co., said she recently purchased a long evening gown and two cocktail dresses after looking over her existing holiday party attire and finding it "old and boring."
"I'm tired of black [so] I went bold," she said. My long gown is a jersey (stretch fabric) Christmas red that I can accessorize in a variety of ways. The short cocktail dresses [in royal blue and eggplant] are both chiffon overlays, which give a breezy, carefree, yet sophisticated look," Shipley said.
In keeping with another trend, Shipley's new dresses have sequins and beading.
"I guess I've had black for so long, and I do still have the traditional little black dress, but [I] wanted to be festive, have fun and wanted my holiday wardrobe to reflect that," she said.
Some of the season's trendy dresses also have texture such as ruffles, feathers and fringe, Goodin said. One-shoulder silhouettes, straps and even long sleeves are other changes in formalwear.
"We're seeing all different lengths this year," she said.
Whether the style is floor length, ankle length, tea, knee or mini, "choose what fits your body," she said.
For the finishing touches, choose shoes and accessories that complement the look, rather than compete with it.
A simple dress, for example, could be amped up with embellished flats or glittery platforms, while a statement dress would need a nude shoe. Similar rules apply to handbags - perhaps a clutch in a bold color, such as royal blue, or a champagne purse with lace detail, to complete the ensemble.
"Accessories should come in pairs," Goodin said. "In other words, don't go overboard."