It's not just fancy party dresses that women are shopping for this holiday season; they're buying special outfits to wear at home on Christmas morning.
No more looking like they just rolled off the mattress, complete with frantic bedhead and saggy flannel pajamas. As they sit with their family around the Christmas tree, opening presents, these fashionistas want to look their best for just one reason -- social media.
According to Courtney Cross, owner of Southern Charm Clothing in Ringgold, Ga., today's women will post some of their Christmas morning photos on Facebook and Twitter, and they want to look good in photos that may go worldwide.
"With the social media world we're now living in -- Instagram, Facebook, etc. -- some ladies will not only share what their Christmas Day was like, they'll show you what they were wearing," she says. "I first saw this trend last year and I've seen even more of it this year."
But it's not like these women are coming out of their bedrooms decked out in full makeup, cocktail dresses and heels, she says.
"I'm calling it the 'Christmas morning outfit,' and it's mostly pattern leggings with a tunic," Cross says.
But these same fashionistas will head to the stores to update their holiday wardrobes with the latest trends, not just for them but their families, as well.
"It's true that many Southern women favor the classics, but many -- especially fashion-forward women -- like a change," she says.
"Typically, Southern women aren't risk takers when it comes to fashion, but around the holidays we become a little more fashion forward," she says. "I've seen Southerners go much more trendy in the fall and winter sporting styles you'd see in New York and Los Angeles. It's because winter fashions give you more options, especially with the layering and the furs (faux, of course)."
And it's the fur and sequins that many of her customers are turning to for holiday wear.
"You will see classics, such as the red- and green-velvet dresses, but you're going to see lots of sequined dresses paired with a fur vest or a dress with feather accents -- each a look that can take you from a night out to the runway."
Arlene Goldstein, fashion spokeswoman for Belk, says her customers are going for the glitz, too, at least when it comes to clothing. "Check out lace, fur trims, sequins, stones and lustrous finishes."
And glitz is always appropriate for holiday parties -- bordering on being a must -- whether the party is day or nighttime, she says.
"The evening should be elegant but glitz before 6 p.m. is always an unexpected treat," she says.
One holiday tip that she suggests is adding a touch of red.
"Wear red, head to toe, or just add a pop. Either way you will stand out from the crowd," she says. Red lip color will do the trick, as well, she adds.
If you're wearing slacks or a skirt, she advises pairing it with a dressy blouse.
"Tops in sheers and satin, silk and almost anything that shimmers add more than a touch of party perfect style," she says.
And, if your outfit is simple, add bold statement pieces.
"Give statement necklaces and over-the-top earrings along with a mix and match assortment of bracelets some attention," she says. "Experiment with pearls in a range of beautiful shades."
Cross has a slightly different take. Because sequins, feather and fur will dominate this holiday season, accessories should be minimal, she says.
"There's going to be less bling with the accessories because you don't want to compete with the clothing," she says. "Shoes will be nude or black pumps, or some will even go with a short bootie. Jewelry will be simple."
The most popular dress length for the season is cocktail, she says. "You'll see some maxi-length gowns, but most women prefer the cocktail length. Full-length is too formal for some women, even if it's to a black-tie event."
Whether you go traditional or have fun with the trends, most women will purchase a new holiday outfit, Cross says. "It's a tradition in the South," she says.
For the kids
And not just for women.
"Many customers still look for that one special outfit for a holiday picture, but many prefer something more 'winter' themed than Christmas," says Julie Novak, owner of Jules for Kids, an online clothing shop for children, although Novak also has a booth at the Chattanooga Market.
"They want something to wear throughout the season, not just December," she says. "I like to use fun fabrics with snowmen, snowflakes, winter trees, etc., instead of Christmas-specific fabric when possible. I have a large selection of flannel, corduroy and velveteen dresses that provide warmth and make a statement with their fun patterns and colors. My goal with Jules for Kids is for a girl to get as much wear out of a dress as she'd like."
As might be expected, there's less variety when it comes to boys' fashion choices, she says.
"Trends often are related to sports apparel and casual T-shirt themes. Boys dress/special occasion clothes have remained classic with collared shirts, vests, khakis and loafers. Fun accessories like hats and scarfs can give a boys outfit a little more flair for the holidays."
And, like adult fashions, there are also trends in children fashion, she says.
"Unfortunately, they aren't always positive and appropriate for the ages they are marketed to," Novak says. "For example, short skirts and short shorts have dominated girls' fashion recently in a way that makes little girls grow up too fast. Fortunately, there are still classic styles that have stood the test of time and always are a good choice, like smocked or tailored dresses or jumpers."
For the guys
Adult guys have an updated look for the holiday season, says Bruce Baird, owner of Bruce Baird & Co., a men's clothing store in downtown Chattanooga.
Black-and-white jackets are popular this season, he says. "The red tartan is also a great looking dinner jacket. It's perfect for cocktail parties.
"Men now have a more lively dinner jacket to wear to holiday parties."
For super-swank events, tuxedos are still a holiday requirement, he says, but you can update the standard black tux with colorful coordinating vests and bow ties.
"But one of the big looks now is the navy tuxedo. We've sold as many navy ones for the holiday season as we have black ones," he says.
For the guy who wants to keep his holiday style simple, Baird says a Christmas-oriented tie or bow tie will do the trick.
"Christmas ties used to be dog ugly, but they've come so far in the last couple years," he says. "Men's Christmas ties used to be red or green with patterns of Christmas lights or Christmas balls. Nowadays, they are more tastefully done."
Contact Karen Nazor Hill at email@example.com or 423-757-6396.