Ahh, the holidays. You can smell it in the air: the hot chocolate, the yummy cinnamon, the major sales to peruse. But even if the lights are twinkling and the champagne’s bubbling, your wardrobe might not be wardrobing. Sigh. Not to fret. This season is brimming with party-ready trends that are sure to kick any early winter blues to the curb. From throwback mod frocks to dainty ballet flats that can be chasséd straight into the new year, the Fall/Winter 2023 collections delivered troves of looks that work well for any upcoming plans you’ve got in store.
“More is always more during the holiday season,” says Jodi Kahn, the vice president of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus. “And some of the fall trends perfectly lend themselves to holiday dressing.”
This December, prepare to sport serotonin-boosting styles that make a big statement. Thanks to Miu Miu’s vintage-esque outfits that are both prim and girlish (and in some cases, pantless) and Saint Laurent’s sharp and sexy suiting, picking a look is less a question of having interesting things to choose from than deciding what exactly you want your wardrobe choices to say. And while options are a fashion girl’s best friend, there are so different routes to consider that it can be a dizzying task to pick from a rolling rack of endless possibilities. That’s why TZR has consulted with industry experts to offer their take on which key trends are reigning supreme — and, naturally, how to pull each one off.
So, pour a glass of something fizzy. Flick on the fairy lights and cue the Mariah. It’s the holidays — it’s time you dress like it.
Red is the color of the season — and sure to endure into next spring, too. The hue was a constant on Fall 2023 runways, appearing in several iterations including the fiery tights at Gucci, head-to-toe suiting at Theory, and statement coats at The Row. It also happens to be a hallmark hue of the holidays, which comes in handy when pulling together an outfit.
Consider wearing red accessories and footwear to shake up any pieces starting to look a little stale. “I anticipate red, a key trend for fall, being one of the most popular [for the] holiday season. Try the bold hue in an accessory like a patent Jacquemus handbag or perfect satin Versace slingback,” says Kahn.
Lisa Bühler, founder of the It girl beloved boutique, Lisa Says Gah, agreed. “I really love a red shoe for a pop of color for a festive look,” she said. “Red shoes feel like a must-have and an easy way to add a punch for the holiday season that you can still use post-events.”
If wearing red is now your full personality, you’re in luck. “I think swapping an LBD for an LRD is a fun update. My favorite red pieces are the Carolina Herrera balloon-sleeved mini dress and the fringe-trimmed knit Simon Miller dress, which packs perfectly for your next getaway,” continues Kahn.
For the fashion girlies looking for a budget-friendly option, rule-breaking red hosiery can invigorate an otherwise simple outfit. “We’re going to see [the usual holiday staples styled in different ways], like sequins juxtaposed with leather and studs, metallic flats paired with red tights,” explains Cat Ward, a content creator whose trend predictions and styling tips have attracted over 275K followers on TikTok.
Channel your inner Blair Waldorf gone bad (worse?) and don a pair of red tights under flimsy negligee á la Gucci Fall 2023. Crimson hosiery can also paired with a chunky oversized sweater, as seen in the Isabel Marant Fall 2023 collection, or mixed with burgundy tones à la Miu Miu.
Major Mod Moment
That’s right, the sixties are back, baby. Striking a balance between prim girlishness and tomboy edge, key pieces like A-line dresses, flats, and suited-up androgyny lend themselves to the retro homage. “Gamine sixties-inspired looks are coming through on the runways and are a fun new option for the party season,” said Emily Gordon-Smith, the content director and sustainability lead at Stylus, a trend forecasting company.
While the trend has been percolating for several seasons, it really hit its stride in the Fall 2023 collections. Miu Miu — and Prada with a demurer take — touted a buttoned-up aesthetic that leaned more mercurial Sylvia Plath than bright-and-sunny Twiggy. Valentino transported its collection to the British youthquake of yore with gender-blurred separates, chunky brogues, and bum-grazing minis; only thing missing was a Beatle. And the closing retrospective at Paco Rabanne was a reminder that swinging A-line dresses paired with pointed metallic ballet flats are as timeless as they are adventurous.
What’s the holiday take on mod, then? If pulling from your closet, think about juxtaposing elements — like a barely there mini with a sharply tailored button-down shirt and metallic flats. Pair red tights to invoke a graphic, color-blocked appeal that harkens to the original ‘60s, Mondrian-inspired trend. “Miu Miu’s sequined gym knickers styled with a roll neck, sheer tights and retro kitten heels sums up the vibe,” suggests Gordon-Smith. “Other key items include tomboy-appeal shirts worn with a skinny tie, A-line micro minis, neat shift dresses and statement-colored coats.”
Holiday dressing often involves pumping up the volume on embellishments, like sequins, to mirror the festive trimmings of the season. But why should this be attached to only a certain time of year? According to Kahn, it isn’t any longer. “If you are to purchase one item this season, I would have to recommend a party-ready flat like a sweet satin pair from Mach & Mach, an embellished ballerina from Miu Miu, or a metallic mesh Mary-Jane from Le Monde Beryl,” she said. To that we say, so long purse shoes, hello happy feet.
In the Mood
Sometimes, you don’t feel like dressing like tinsel. We get it. And fortunately, plenty of designers do, too. The antithesis to styles that exude an energized attitude? Designs with an air of nostalgic romance conjuring Vampire Lestat’s New Orleans lair. Think burning candelabras, velvet curtains, crackling fires, and maybe a poltergeist or two. For the gloomy girls in the crowd, this is your time to shine (or shadow — semantics). Enter rich velvets, bows, lingerie-inspired laces and satins, and functional, ass-kicking boots.
“Gothic romance is set to be a key look as we embrace our inner Morticia Addams and go dark and mysterious for the holiday season,” said Gordon-Smith. “For key items think sheer slip dresses, lacy separates, velvet outerwear and pretty chokers toughened up with leather Goth boots.”
Similarly, Bühler declared that “sheer lace, a novel jewelry piece, and hair accessories like bows,” are sure to be key pieces for holiday dressing this year. “We'll definitely see some lace pants and still a lot of underwear as outerwear — exposed bra straps, hot pants on full display, and bras as tops paired with blazers,” echoed Ward.
Erdem was an excellent representation of the aesthetic, with its long-line sheer dresses covered in ornate embellishment and gauze — not to mention its outsize opera gloves aplenty. The arm covering proved the power of smart accessorizing by turning more than few prim-and-proper midi dresses into witchy silhouettes worthy of a midnight seance in the woods (the addition of edgy knee-high boots helped with that, too). Capes, a gloomy girl staple, appeared in a range of lengths and materials throughout the season; they’re the ultimate choice when making an entrance at a special event. Rodarte went all in on the dramatic style: Its Fall 2023 collection opened a portal into the uncanny with eerie, otherworldly gowns, luxurious lady-of-the-manor frocks, and webbed knits. Sandy Liang, meanwhile, took a youthful channel on the trend, fusing active wear with lace dresses and skirts. The uniting key? Bows, lots of them.
The simplest — and in some cases, most practical — way to dip into the trend, a feminine hair detail can inject subtle youthfulness to an otherwise seductive outfit. The contrast sings. “Hair accessories [are] festive and wrap the look in a nice bow,” notes Bühler.
For this look, a little goes a long way, cautioned Gordon-Smith. Pick one or two darkly romantic pieces, like a floor-length gown and hair bow, and keep any other accessories or layering components simple and understated.
Just about every type of suiting has been a runway mainstay for a long while now. And, to the surprise of pretty much no one, tailored separates provide ample material for interpretation for holiday trends. Whether you’re looking to channel legend Bianca Jagger circa Studio 54 or bowing down to the wonder that was Grace Jones in full power suit glory, there’s plenty to work with.
Kahn says nipped in waists are a favorite among Neiman Marcus customers, and a popular fall trend that naturally lends itself to holiday outfitting. Indeed, suiting manifests in a range of style sensibilities, Gordon-Smith points out. “The slick glamour of 1970s Halston and ‘90s-era Tom Ford for Gucci — in fact, anything Tom Ford — is inspiring a holiday-ready trend built around sexy tailored pieces” she continues. “This comes as no surprise when tailoring per se has seen such a comeback in recent seasons.”
Saint Laurent’s Fall 2023 collection made the case for the return of blazers with exaggerated shoulders and oversized proportions. The Row struck the balance between effortless elegance and ultimate refinement with relaxed menswear-inspired silhouettes. And Christian Cowan brought the house down with his Fall 2023 collection — the opening suit echoing ‘70s glamour — followed by a rundown of the top trends for the holiday season, including sequins, fearless red accents, and sheer, well, everything.
The wonderful thing (well, there’s tons) about a good suit is that it can be mixed and matched. Case in point: “We saw ivory emerge as a chic alternative to black — there is something super refined and refreshing about this neutral in winter,” says Kahn. “Try the look with a pair of beautifully tailored Khaite trousers, paired with their signature body suit or a bow-trimmed dress by Christopher John Rogers.”
And if you’re trying to liven up a neutral-toned suit? Metallic or bold-colored accessories can immediately elevate a look. “Update your favorite tailored suit with a sculptural silver bag from Staud, or Loewe crystal-trimmed mesh pumps, which tick off two trends [at once],” Kahn advises.