In our monthly fashion column, Style Coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Megan LaRussa shares her best tips for dressing stylishly and appropriately for any occasion — while helping women look and feel their best! Today, she tells us her recipe for a perfect holiday outfit as well as ways to shop your own closet instead of impulsively purchasing one-time-wear items at the last minute. Without further ado, we hand it off to Megan LaRussa! 

Style Coach Megan LaRussa Chenoweth

With the holiday season in full force, you are probably running on fumes trying to get everything on your to-do list checked off — I know I am! With gifts to purchase, kids to entertain, holiday parties to stop by, not to mention your normal day-to-day activities, what to wear to your holiday parties can often fall to the end of your list.

Something I feel very passionately about is preventing my style-coaching clients from running out at the last minute and purchasing a “party outfit” because they have nothing in their closet to wear. This means we shop, style outfits and even snap photos of these casual and dressy party outfits long before the holiday season so they are prepared and have one less thing they have to stress about this time of year.

If you are not feeling prepared, don’t worry — I’ve got you covered. Remember — this is what I do every day, so I’m here to help you feel confident, pulled together and ready for those last-minute soirées you have to stop by!

Cheers to making holiday soirées a lot less stressful!

 

I want to save you money and time, so I’m going to teach you how to shop your own closet and style up some festive outfits without leaving your house. While I of course love hitting the stores for some shopping for holiday parties and more, I do not recommend last-minute shopping. I often see the items in my clients’ closets that are not being worn or were only worn once are the pieces that were bought in a frantic “I have nothing to wear but have to go to this event” state.

The first step in having a polished outfit for that casual Secret Santa party with friends, that office holiday party and that upcoming New Year’s Eve bash you’re going to is having the right balance of basics and what I call “personality-packed pieces” living in your closet.

The Building Blocks

A solid basic would be a great pair of dark wash or black jeans, a pair of black pants, a white silk blouse, a black blazer or a pair of black booties, heels or flats. And make sure your basics are up-to-date, so your completed look is polished and current. If you’re not sure what is on trend, here is my list of the Top 10 Outdated Items.

Next, a personality-packed piece would be a printed blouse, a fun pair of earrings, a colorful ballet flat or a textured vest.

Now the outfit formula you need to know:

Outfit Formula: Foundational Basic Item + Personality Packed Piece

(Pro Tip: If you have just basics on, you feel boring, and if you don’t have the right basics to pair with your personality-packed pieces, you have a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear.)

Here are a few visual examples of this Outfit Formula to help you get inspired with items in your own closet:

Basic loafers and neutral pants anchor this oversized sweater, and the pearlized pant adds a fun touch of personality. Image: Anthropologie

Basic loafers and neutral pants anchor this oversized sweater, and the pearlized pant adds a fun touch of personality. Image: Anthropologie

This ruffle-sleeves v-neck adds a femininity, complemented by the basic black pant. Image: Ann Taylor

This ruffle-sleeves v-neck adds a femininity, complemented by the basic black pant. Image: Ann Taylor

Dark was denim, a camisole and a blazer all count as basics, but when the blazer is a gorgeous rich emerald velvet, it becomes your statement piece. Image: J.Crew

Dark wash denim, a camisole and a blazer all count as basics, but when the blazer is a gorgeous rich emerald velvet, it becomes your statement piece. Image: J.Crew

RELATED: 5 Tips for Layering Without Looking Bulky

A black top and black flats keep this patchwork skirt from running the show. Image: Anthropologie

A black top and black flats keep this patchwork skirt from running the show. Image: Anthropologie

Simple black basics lay the foundation for this personality-packed emerald fur vest. Image: Bloomingdale's

Simple black basics lay the foundation for this personality-packed emerald fur vest. Image: Bloomingdale’s

This dress doubles as a basic with personality-packed touches like the sheer ruffle-cuff sleeve and the subtle metallic pattern. Image: Banana Republic

This dress doubles as a basic with personality-packed touches like the sheer ruffle-cuff sleeve and the subtle metallic pattern. Image: Banana Republic

The Focal Point Rule

Now the next thing I want you to consider when shopping your own closet is the focal point rule. A focal point can be a colorful top, a printed blazer, a drop earring, a metallic shoe or a beautiful, fun scarf. I teach my clients that you always want two to three focal points per outfit to feel authentic, pulled together and never under- or overdone. When you style an outfit with two to three focal points, you automatically look ready to rock and roll for any soirée that comes your way!

Check out the outfit ideas below that showcase this Focal Point Rule:

Statement earrings, metallic plaid pants and bow-adorned flats are three fabulous focal points here. Image: Anthropologie

Statement earrings, metallic plaid pants and bow-adorned flats are three fabulous focal points here. Image: Anthropologie

Eye-catching turquoise velvet, lace ruffle sleeves and statement earring make for a creative cocktail look that is sure to turn heads. Image: Anthropologie

Eye-catching turquoise velvet, lace ruffle sleeves and statement earrings make for a creative cocktail look that is sure to turn heads. Image: Anthropologie

A distressed jean, stripes and power boot take this otherwise plain look to the next level. Image: Banana Republic

A distressed jean, stripes and power boot take this otherwise plain look to the next level. Image: Banana Republic

RELATED: The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Fall Fashion

This tweed pencil skirt has a hint of sparkle that catches the eye, and the ties on this red silk shirt provide an elongating focal point. Image: Ann Taylor

This tweed pencil skirt has a hint of sparkle that catches the eye, and the ties on this red silk shirt provide an elongating focal point. Image: Ann Taylor

The half-tuck of this emerald silk blouse plus the snakeskin mules are simple but powerful focal points. Image: Banana Republic

The half-tuck of this emerald silk blouse plus the snakeskin mules are simple but powerful focal points. Image: Banana Republic

Texture and pattern — in the lace skirt and leopard print heel — provide the focal points on this striking look. Image: Anthropologie

Texture and pattern — in the lace skirt and leopard print heel — provide the focal points on this striking look. Image: Anthropologie

Now it’s your turn to take these tips and put them into action. Use these inspirational images to create outfits from your own closet. I encourage you to spend 30 minutes today thinking about what you have coming up the rest of the week, and go ahead and make your outfits for both casual and dressy occasions. Bonus points for snapping a picture of these outfits on your phone! Trust me when you have five minutes to get ready, you are going to love having that photo for quick and easy reference.

For more outfit formula insight, done-for-you shopping, premade outfits for your body type and so much more, I invite you to join my stylish community, the Style Yourself Chic Society!

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