How to Dress for the 2020 Holidays

The year is finally coming to an end, and we have the holidays ahead of us to shine light in our lives as we move on to 2021. True, we may not have crowded gatherings with friends, family, and business colleagues lined up, but we have the opportunity to celebrate in person (in small numbers) and virtually. And we should. If this year has taught us anything it is the importance of appreciating the here and now, and how precious and meaningful it is to radiate light whenever we can.

And what is one of the first things you think about when it’s about to get festive? Clothes!

You may think there is little point in getting all dressed up this year, but I actually see a wonderful opportunity for dressing festively.

The good news is that we don’t have to put up with the stress of dressing for, or accommodating (as we women are more than often called to do) ambiguous codes and non-repeat outfit expectations. Because many times we dress for others. And of course we dress for others! There is nothing more social in register than clothes. And as a stylist, with a background in social sciences and women empowerment, whose expertise is distilling and translating the personal, the physical, the social, into outfits and style, I can only agree that the context is very important. But so are we!

Now the heavy gaze of others is lifted, and we can be festive for ourselves and our intimate group. This is a great opportunity to finally acknowledge that celebration comes from us, regardless of the number of people and events. You can fashion yourself festively in whatever way you want. This is also an opportunity to experience the incredible power clothes have over our mood, self-acceptance and well-being. How liberating and joyful is that? Answer: VERY.

So what about this motto for these holidays?

  • Feel Comfortable.
  • Feel Beautiful.
  • Feel Festive.

What’s Your Style?

As you know, style is very personal and it also depends on your mood. Before deciding WHAT you are going to wear, let’s look at 3 style/mood options you can choose from, with plenty of dressing range in each. Remember to choose items and designs that highlight your best features and bring a smile to your face.

Traditional Classic: Traditional classic holiday dressing favors dresses (but not exclusively) and colors like red, black, gold, and silver (maybe a dash of green). Sequins have all the leeway! Given our changing environment, you may feel like anchoring yourself in long-established customs and, if so, this is the style for you (style is the message!).

Forward Looking: This year has definitely been different and may bring totally different perspectives to what we have considered given and constant. If change is your mood, you may want to go all colorful: bright pink, yellow, orange, purple, and, if all in, with mixed patterns including stripes, circles, flowers, you name it. Implicit and explicit dress codes vary within families and industries, so now you have the chance to have your own festive code, and experiment with colors and patterns and accessories. Mix and match, bring the “cambalache” of this moment to your clothes with a positive embrace (from polka dots all the way to Versace).

Carpe Diem: Yes. This is for you. Yes, you. You who have been treasuring in your closet the “I have never had the chance to wear it.” The too dressy, too shiny, too long, too baroque, too ‘60s, too retro, too, too, too! This is the occasion you were looking for. It is about your self-acceptance only. Wear it for yourself. Embrace it, accessorize it, live the joy. The time is now!

Zoom celebrations?

  • Stay away from white and sharp contrasts
  • Be mindful of sparkles
  • Favor necklaces that are close to your neckline (so they can be fully viewed on the screen)

The outfit you come up with will be very personal and genuine to you. And whatever style/mood you decide to go for, two additional things to indulge in if you are in the mood: earrings and lipstick! (The two quintessentially ostracized items of the mark-wearing pandemic).

Now, what will you wear? If you need help, you can always reach out.


Related content:
‘Fashion After 40’ – Feeling Good About Yourself and the Clothes You Wear [Video]
How the Pandemic has Changed NYFW and the Fashion Industry
Post-COVID Fashion Trends




Mara Kolesas
Mara Kolesas
Mara Kolesas, Ph.D., is a style with substance expert, based in Berkeley, CA, who provides intelligent styling for professionals. She grew up in Buenos Aires where she breathed style from an early age. She went on to a career in political science, studying for a doctorate in New York City, and later lived in Florence, Rome, Berlin and Beirut, where she pursued my two passions: she studied and promoted citizen empowerment, diversity and inclusion, and she explored small boutiques, helping friends find outfits that gave them joy and confidence. Along with her artistic eye and knowledge of fashion, she brings analytical and social expertise to a field with superficial associations. Twitter

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