In case you haven’t noticed, I’m real femme. What you definitely haven’t noticed (because we totally haven’t hung out in ages) is that I’m freezing cold. Yup, right this minute. How could I not be? I live in New England and it’s the dead of winter. Not just that, it’s the dead of winter and everyone expects me to be displaying my holiday splendor in a series of teeny-tiny blingy-shiny crimson red dresses. Sure you can wear a winter coat, but what does that do for my legs? What about my toes?! You know how cold my toes get! So yeah, I’m fucking freezing out here. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t filled with jealousy toward’s my butch date’s wool suit, tie and sweater. She’s not cold at all.
So how the hell am I going to tackle Christmas and New Years without subjecting my toes to the Fourteen Degrees But Feels Like Five Degrees With Windchill air? Well I’ve got four tips that will keep you just a bit warmer no matter what holiday you’re celebrating.
A Warm Dress is a Happy Dress
For too long we have been at the mercy of thin dresses. Who decided that all holiday dresses should be unlined satin or barely-there?! I don’t know, but they deserve a good slap. There are so many great dresses to be found in the world that are lined, velvet, wool or fur trimmed. I particularly like the idea of a wool dress that is covered in sequin. Between the wool and the plastic you’re bound to be toasty. Alternatively, if you’re going someone more casual, a sweater dress is always a great balance across both the casual-fancy and the warm-sexy lines.
Sleeves are the often ignored middle child of the dress world. Ever since that whole Royal Wedding situation, designers have been showing lace long sleeves. Besides the fact that this looks totally glamorous, it’s one of the easiest ways to make your outfit warmer. You can also find a good deal of long sleeve shift dresses that look so effortless they give you instant “oh this old thing” credit.
While many of us picture wedding dresses the instant someone says “long,” the maxi-dress is making a big comeback. I particularly love maxi-dresses because I can hide thermal leggings underneath. Plus, they’re usually pretty loose from the bust down, allowing me to gorge on holiday appetizers without feeling like I’m supposed to spend the whole night sucking in my stomach because I chose to wear a spandex bodycon. Most importantly, a long dress in the winter looks outrageously romantic in a way that short dresses just can’t approximate. This is a good time to take pictures.
It took me a long time to embrace the amazingness that is femme pants. I thought as a femme it was somehow my duty to wear a dress for every special occasion. Plus I was damn near convinced there weren’t any women’s dress pants that looked good on me. This is a load of shit. The coveted secret is the power of high waisted pants. As soon as you start tucking a loose, flowy shirt into pants up to your waistband people know this is your fucking fancy pants look.
Another super secret is to ditch the goddamn belt. I always end up playing with them all night or worrying they don’t match my shoes well enough. So fuck it! Particularly if you can find pants without belt loops you just don’t need them.
I usually choose a good wool-spandex bland for a wide-leg fancy pant. You want the pants to curve up to the fullest part of your butt and then go straight down in back. For a tight pair of pants, I particularly like a stiff brocade. For a dressy tight pant you want to make sure the pants end just at your shoes without crunching up the way skinny jeans do. Additionally, they should lie flat across the front of your pelvis without pulling at your crotch (because that’s just awkward). Remember to have any fancy pants hemmed to the hight of the shoes you’re going to wear them with.
I wish I could go back in time to every winter cocktail dress I’ve ever suffered through and paired it with a little black blazer. Specifically a little tuxedo blazer. A black tux jacket can basically go over any holiday dress and warm you up in no time. Plus, a tux jacket gives you that hint of queer you’re always looking to add to your femme looks.
Similarly, never underestimate the value of a cardigan. A black, white, red or gem-tone cardigan is a great way to incorporate a sleeveless or strapless dress into a winter outfit. I particularly like crew-neck cardigans button-up in the middle or V-neck cardigans hung loosely open. A cardigan is a particularly awesome accessory because there’s a great chance you already own one! Plus this is the perfect opportunity to finally wear one of those cardigans with The Fancy Buttons your mother keeps buying you.
A long wool or faux-fur coat is an unbeatable investment. While I normally tromp around New England in some rendition of a puffy downcoat, I have one beautiful black knee-length designer wool dress coat that I bust out just at special occasions (and sometimes first dates). I think I’ve had this jacket since I was approximately 19, but I wear it so rarely that it’s still in great shape. Plus, long black wool coats never stop looking nice or go out of style. It’s a great investment.
Overdress Your Accessories
Whether you’re planning a barely there mini-dress or a full on parka, you’re going to want to double up on the warm accessories. The most obvious place to start is with your underwear. You might know of Spanx super-panties for their notorious “shaping” effect, but I have a pair because it’s literally the best way to keep your midsection warm without anyone knowing. Seriously, I’m usually burning up by the end of the night in these. Another great idea is wool stockings. Lucky for us, grey and black stockings are coming in huge this season and shouldn’t be hard to find. The great thing about long underwear and wool stockings is that if you go into a party and get too hot, they can be easily scrunched up and stuffed into your evening bag.
Shoes are also a great place to look for extra warmth. You can always maximize your leg coverage with high boots. While suede or leather evening boots certainly aren’t as warm as your favorite snow boots, you can double up on the warmth by sneaking in some half-high ski socks that nobody will even see. If high boots wreck your look, at least treat yourself to some platform booties which still give you good foot coverage. Plus you can probably still sneak ankle socks. I understand, though, that not every look calls for boots. With this in mind, I would still avoid strappy sandals at all cost. Besides being out of season, when that tiny strip of leather is cutting into your freezing toe you’ll be really kicking yourself.
When shopping for your finishing touches, don’t shy away from faux-fur. White and black faux-fur is particularly glamorous and readily available this time of year. Lately stores have been showing little faux-fur stoles that can be worn outdoors and taken off once you’re inside. Similarly faux-fur trimmed gloves are always adorable. If faux-fur isn’t your particular style, there’s no reason to shy away from the classic pashmina or evening gloves. This is the holidays, after all.
The holiday season is stressful enough without having to negotiate what you’re going to wear. Maybe this all sounds like a ton of work. Maybe this just isn’t your year to invest in a whole new holiday look. Maybe you feel like you just want wear your dress from your cousin’s wedding last summer. But for heaven sake be kind to yourself and make a few cold weather style changes. Bundle up, because this definitely isn’t the year for frostbite. Happy holidays and stay warm out there.