Festive dress

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Everyone has their own take on how to dress for the holidays. Some prefer to drag out those Mom-made sweatshirts with jingle bells and ribbons (just to make her happy). They're perfect for ringing in the New Year over a poker game or at the bowling alley.

Others adore the opportunity to be as glamorous as possible, taking advantage of the one night each year to strut their stuff.

But whatever their plans, people will be wearing what makes them feel comfortable, feel good. Fashion is more about expressing a personal style than about looking a certain way. But if your personal style needs a boost this party season, below are a few tips to get you thinking.

These are just some of the common fashions you'll see at this year's parties. The key to style this season is confidence. Make yourself memorable.

It's head-spinningly complicated to follow fashion's evolution these days as '80s power dressing has been replaced by the '90s version of the '70s Huggy-Bear man — with a '30s twist attached. Think flashy and tough accessories, or a big fake fur collar. Jean Harlow meets Shaft. The pimp, like the peacock, rules the roost. Not that we condone their behavior, but their flashy peacock style has maintained respect in certain circles for more than a century. You already have to have a certain amount of bravado to go the flashy route anyway, so the rest should be easy. Now go strut.

Speaking of peacocks, feathers are all over the place. One wonders how this trend emerged, but nonetheless it's here. Peacock-feather fedoras work well with the au courant violets and reds. Inexpensive feather boas feel exotic and can be worn with nearly anything.

Make up your own trend. Find an old jacket or sweater that's lost all appeal and hit the craft store for feathery trim — usually about $3.99 a yard. Tack it on a collar, around the sleeve hems or anyplace else for instant glam.

No one knows what the weather will be like, but just in case, men's suits (again, the pimpier the better) with a feminine edge (we're still girls) are sexy and comfortable.

Try a vampy lipstick of solid black to blend with your leftover reds. Added bonus: it doubles as smudgy black eye shadow.

The gender-blending scene is not even unusual anymore. Be unpredictable for just one night. Mix crocheted tights and fishnets with unexpected colors, plaids and fabric textures. Just when you think it's a bit too tacky to leave the house, you're probably on the right track.

Walk tall, think and stand tall, wear longer (tall) silhouettes ... long, long, long. Those platforms really help. Besides, miniskirts in midwinter Michigan can only be painful (unless of course, you're into that kinda thing). Also, straighter A-line dresses lend a more modern vibe.

Slip dressing is still gorgeous, but ditch the Lolita style and go for Harlow — whether it's satin, velvet or a clingy little knit number. The main vibe is to mix it all up — no, no matchy-matchy.

Another look-of-the-year is Renaissance flashy, with glitter and sparkles in gold and silver. It's not your everyday wardrobe, but for holiday festivities it seems necessary. Iridescent is everywhere — and if the party gets dull, you can always stare at your outfit for amusement.

Colors are also very important. Warm colors are back in — eggplant purple, all shades of blue, violets, creams, reds and, of course, black.

Velvet is hot in all articles of clothing. For variety, try velour, suede, leather and satin. Angora is beautiful and back in — with matching socks, too.

Don't forget to accessorize. Simple getups will benefit from this year's hot Gothic and industrial jewels. A ball gown is just another ball gown without a spike collar, a six-inch brushed steel cross, or stunning rhinestone tiara.

Be the people's princess. Depending on the outfit, you may need just a delicate beaded necklace or choker the same shade as your outfit. If you're going sleeveless, pick up an inexpensive pair of long satin gloves to finish it off. And purses have got to match the belt — to the shoes — to the outfit.

Scarves are also used to replace jewelry. They can be tied around the neck just like in the '60s. Or they can be worn long to accent your jacket or dress.

Still stuck? Red, red and more red — from purses to lipstick. It's a festive color and will make you feel sexy, even if it's just a sweatshirt.

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