Christmas Chic: Who Said Holiday Clothes Have to Be Tacky?

Christmas Outfit Collage

Evolution of an Outfit

If I could’ve asked for any pre-Christmas present from Santa Claus, this year, I would’ve asked for a stylist to help me coordinate my holiday gear. Two years ago I bought a pair of red and white fleece lined Christmas leggings from Ross so I knew that part of my outfit was taken care of.

Now all I needed was a top or sweater, and accessories, to complete it. Believe me there’s no shortage of kitschy tops to choose from, including tees at Albertson’s and fluffy pullovers at Fallas. My challenge, however, was to choose something fun and classy enough to warrant its cost and timeless enough to earn its place in my closet.

After going back to Ross again, hoping luck would strike twice, when it didn’t I headed to Fallas. Unimpressed with their joyous offerings, I finally went to Target. and found the perfect sweater to match my leggings and join my small collection of holiday clothing. Emblazoned with an adorable pug in a red Christmas hat, my Bah Humpug sweater helped me pull off a vibrant ensemble that lightened my mood and earned a lot of compliments.

While a stylist would’ve made this process easier, learning how to create an evolving thematic look with a strong subject matter, was the best Christmas gift I could’ve ever received.

Below is my Christmas gift to you, a descriptive list of the various ways I coordinated my holiday outfits over the past three years and some tips on how you can create your own outfit. If you want to see what my ensembles look like check out the collage above.

Keepin’ It Classy for Christmas:

Where Did You Get Those Cool Christmas Pants?

  • Date: December 2015
  • Place: Beethoven Elementary School
  • Outfit Breakdown: Black leather motorcycle jacket + hand-knit white floral cardigan over a white blouse + red and white print Christmas leggings.

Miss Moore, Miss Moore Is That Your Coat?

  • Date: December 2016
  • Place: Baldwin Hills Elementary School
  • Outfit Breakdown: Red vinyl coat + light blue pullover sweater over a blue and white striped button-down shirt and red and white print Christmas leggings.

You Look Very Festive Today!

  • Date: December 2017
  • Place: Leo Politi Elementary School
  • Outfit Breakdown: Green corduroy pea coat + black pug Christmas sweater+ red and white checked button-down shirt, patriotic cat scarf and red and white print Christmas leggings.

The Christmas Sweater Goes Back Into the Closet Until Next Year After This 

  • Date: December 2017
  • Outfit Breakdown: Beige corduroy blazer over white button-down shirt + cream long dress and pug Christmas sweater.

How to Create a Fashionable Christmas Outfit:

  1. Look for Christmas clothes in styles and prints you’d wear the rest of the year instead of disposable, inexpensive garments you’ll be tempted to dispose of easily.
  2. Pair your items with classics, like button-down shirts, nice pants or a simple skirt, then further accessorize with colorful scarves, jewelry or other accents that have holiday prints.
  3. Decide on a color scheme, ahead of time (i.e., red, white, green and black) and work around that as you would any other outfit you would wear for work or a special occasion.

Inexpensive Doesn’t Have to Mean Cheap

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker yesterday about inexpensive clothing. I told her my instructor, for my FSH 619 class Developments and Current Debates in Fashion at Academy of Art University, asked if we’d seen any changes in fast-fashion recently? When I told her, I’d said, “Yes,” and pointed out the new day from Target plaid jacket and blue and white striped shirt dress I was wearing while stating it was a real bargain, she flew into a thinly veiled rage.

“People in this area, of Koreatown, would rather buy as many pants and tops as they can at Ross, then spend more money on one thing that might be “longer lasting” at Target, she said. “Besides their clothes are too expensive.”

Laughing I told her that I didn’t blame them because the skinny jeans, Harajuku Lovers sneakers I was wearing and the Betsey Johnson purse I carried that day were all bought at Ross over two years ago. It’s true that I’ve been mistaken as an extremely wealthy fashionista because I know my way around an outfit, and I always try to upgrade whatever I wear to emulate a Vogue, Porter, Nylon, Elle or Marie Claire layout, but my ultimate goal is to find quality items at a great price with great style.

Still reeling, from both the derision of my outfit and later a compliment about it from a woman on the bus home, I took my trash out the next day and saw a sordid display of discarded garments. On the one end of this issue, I was insulted for treating my fast-fashion with pride while this unknown culprit was applauded for being “poor”. Which one is right? The consumer who thinks about tomorrow or the person who could care less.

As this drama goes on, with both sides fighting for position, the only resolution I see is to realize we have a longer way to go to get back where we should be.20171110_163741-COLLAGE-1.jpg

Doing It Old School in Chuck Taylor Converse

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From about age 5 to 11 1/2 my favorite sneakers were Keds, then I when I started junior high, they were replaced with Chuck Taylor Converse. I’ll never forget how grown up I felt in my navy-blue and white high tops and hideous blue and white regulation gym uniform. In the early ’80’s, while attending San Francisco State University, I was going through a punk rock phase and wanted a pair of Converse to wear with my favorite Levi’s, but I was on a budget. One day, when I was coming out of the Student Union I saw a vendor selling them for less than $50, so I bought a black and white pair. Over the years I’ve worn a variety of sneakers, including Keds, but Converse (usually low tops) have been a constant.
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling in need of renewal, so when I went shopping I looked for something green to perk myself up. A pair of sea foam high top Converse, I saw in the shoe section at Ross, looked so lovely and old school they became my momentary salvation. After buying them and bringing them home visions of all the outfits they’d accompany filled my head. As I put them in one of my closets, next to my ankle boots, I felt good knowing a classic I’d worn since childhood were still as comfortable and versatile as ever.

 How to Wear Converse Today:

  1. Pastel colored Converse provide a nice contrast for a lush white summer dress and light shawl, while still keeping it feminine.
  2. To compliment the angularity of a black slim-fitting knit midi dress, try pairing it with a pair of white Converse, and a rugged denim jacket, for a nice street edge.
  3. Running errands don’t have to catch you in an overly cas mode. You can spice up your everyday uniform by mixing something as simple as a crisp button-down with a pair of cropped jeans and a pair of low-top Converse.
  4. Want to get that black and white look without being too fussy? Try wearing a monochromatic white outfit with a pair of black low-top Converse.
  5. Boho never looked so cool and comfortable than when a long maxi dress is coordinated with a pair of low-top Converse and a suede jacket.

Beautiful Journey: Art, Prada and Bliss

Beautiful Journey Collage

Beautiful Journey Collage created by Victoria Moore

One cool, crisp morning while waiting to catch the bus to work I got into an interesting conversation with a young friend of mine. Bright, lovely and on the verge of entering the big, wide world after a few semesters at West L.A. College she said, “When my mother and I want to buy something nice we don’t shop over here, in the Crenshaw area, we go to another part of town where the merchandise is better.” “That’s too bad you feel you have to go to another part of town to find better things,” I told her. “Not only is it an inconvenience but retailers, in this area, won’t know what their customers want if they don’t tell them.”

Personally I believe one should try to support their community within their community, and while I’m definitely not against getting the most for one’s buck, I do think it’s up to the citizens with vision to help others see the diamonds in the rough they might be missing by immediately heading elsewhere. For years I’ve been that visionary,  starting back in the ’90’s at Clothestime when I helped my customers coordinate an outfit, for the readers of my column Vicqui a la Mode for Florence News newspaper, and as a creator and instructor for the personal style and budget dressing classes I taught at Culver City Adult School  and Westside Extension.

The problem, then and now, is re-educating those who’ve been victims of geographical racism and low self-esteem. How do you do it when one part of town thrives with weeds and trash compared to another where gardens, smart shops and clean streets reflect wealth and prosperity? One way is to find the unique and inspirational in your surroundings, wherever you are.

When I lived in Inglewood, California Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary and The Discovery Shop were  where I got my shop on. When I worked in Watts, California for I Have a Dream Foundation  and The L.A. Watts Times the Watts Towers and Museum provided culture and opportunities. Now in the changing ethnic landscape of Baldwin Village, it’s the mural I saw being created the day I went to visit the Manifest Justice exhibit, The Dollar Tree, Fallas, Target, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and the historical apartment complex Village Green. Wherever I look, in the city, I see inspiration even if it’s just a small landscaped waterfall area in front of  dentist’s office in Torrance, California. Sometimes even having a change of plans motivates me to stretch creatively and see the possible within the impossible.

Waterfall and surrounding landscape in front of dentist's office in Torrance, CA. (19)

Waterfall photo taken by Victoria Moore

Revisiting Prada’s Fall 2014 Collection at Fallas:

L.A. has a lot of things-Hollywood hopefuls, pithy writers, excellent weather and nice beaches-yet lately its style scene hasn’t been supporting the regular folk. If you’re wealthy and rail thin you can shop anywhere, but if you’re the average consumer who only looks to your peers for guidance, you’re limited. The trick is to educate yourself by studying effectively worn fashion in magazines, on television, in the movies, and on the street, learning about the season’s new trends and designers, and then applying what’s appropriate  to your own signature style.

Miuccia Prada is one of my favorite designers, and in Fall 2014, she created a line recalling the ’70’s, complete with skinny scarves added as an accent. It remains one of her best because she also added a touch of Sonia Delaunay in the color scheme. Another look that caught my eye then was a leopard and floral skirt featured in Vogue magazine. I just knew I had to live without one until I saw an inexpensive version at Fallas. Lightweight and soft the first time I wore it to my Writing Group at the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center I basked in the glowing compliments. Two skinny scarves, one leopard and floral, and one navy-blue and white polka-dotted, rounded out my shopping finds for that day.

Black Keith Haring art tee from Forever 21 (4)

Keith Haring Art Tee photo taken by Victoria Moore

At the Movies and Beyond:

Westside Pavilion’s Landmark theater is one of the most luxurious places to watch a movie, and on the day I saw Love and Friendship I pulled out my leopard and floral print skirt, coordinated it with a white v-necked pullover sweater and Michael Kors denim jacket. Ritzy enough to be worn from Rodeo and LaBrea to Westwood and Pico it didn’t matter where it came from, but where I took it and how.

Following a visit to the Forever 21, at the mall, one Saturday I found a snazzy black, red and white Keith Haring art tee, that became the proper separate for my skirt. Funky and edgy it was  classy  enough for work or a casual date at the farmer’s market. By connecting the elegance of couture with the ease of L.A.’s laid-back reputation this simple item became my sartorial bridge across the city.

What Is Timeless Style?

Off-white short-sleeved blazer over foulard print sleeveless blouse What is timelessness? Is it a pair of super trendy skinny jeans all of your friends are wearing? Is it a kitschy t-shirt that you and your daughter take turns borrowing? No and no. If you want to know what true timelessness is all you have […]

via What Is Timeless Style? — Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good