Decorate Yourself Score pro tips for what to wear to your many holiday parties!


An attractive and classy young woman standing at the bar of a upper class establishment

It’s that time again—time for twinkling lights, for music and dancing, for togetherness. Time to break out the cashmere and velvet dinner jackets. A vintage wool beret. A stunning fur cape.

In short, it’s that time of year when we dress to feel like the most glamorous versions of ourselves, all in the name of holiday cheer. But if you’re unsure of what to wear for swanky year-end celebrations, these Baltimore-based boutique owners have a few pointers.

When in doubt, overdress, says Ray Mitchener, owner of Ruth Shaw, Inc., a women’s boutique in the Village of Cross Keys. “There’s something about buying a piece just to have it—the fantasy of it—that’s really special.”

Ruth Shaw features fine garments that will make you the belle of the New Year’s ball or the best-dressed executive at after-work cocktails downtown. The designs pack ingenious versatility that will last into the spring. Lace separates with nude lining transform when the slip is changed—or if you go full ’90s with a black turtleneck underneath the top. Eyelet neoprene can go elegant or vampy with the right accessories—which Ruth Shaw carries in spades.

To dress your guy, invest in a well-tailored suit in a luxurious fabric—and then switch out the details, advises Christopher Schafer of Christopher Schafer Clothier in Harbor East. “Men are fickle,” he says. “It’s important to them to have options. But tell them they look good, and that’s when you see them start to feel good in the clothing.”

Schafer’s Aliceanna Street studio offers bespoke menswear designed and detailed in-house and manufactured in New York. He is a brand ambassador for the luxury Parisian textile firm Dormeuil, which uses English wool, making Schafer’s operation a marriage between fine European quality and an individual Yankee style. His rock ‘n’ roll influences are seen in the subtle detailing of a button, a bright orange stitch or a witty silk tie.

For more informal occasions (or if you have more of a rebel streak), Jean Pool at Cross Keys offers denim designed to show off what your mama gave you—for men and women. And owner Scott Wable arranges for custom tailoring, creating an original hem if you’re tall or nipping in the waist after accommodating a Kardashian booty. He says precision tailoring helps transport denim from daytime to anytime.

Jean Pool also offers a selection of women’s clothing that can take you from a formal dinner to a dance club—from Yule log to Burning Man. The inventory is edgy, elegant and user-friendly, like the sheer pastel blouses with feminine beaded appliques that get even sexier when paired with a sexy sequined bralette, or the locally made earrings designed to look like gauged piercings that are in fact made with standard posts—all the look of a punk rocker without the painful body modification.

And don’t forget about outerwear and the power of a statement coat. At Emage Furs on Belair Road, there’s a coat for every style. Owner and president Houda Iskander imports coats from Europe—when she’s not designing them herself. Iskander offers items in shearling, leather and the new and indulgent fur-interior styles for men and women. And even the accessories are to die for, like the adorable cashmere beanie with fox-fur pom-pom or the popular fingerless texting gloves with pearl and crystal beads and fur trim. Iskander even has custom-dyed pieces, so you can go purple for Ravens pride or electric blue for extra drama.

Finally, if you’re more of a world traveler with an eye for brocades and silks, be sure to check out the clothing at Chezelle, a plus-size boutique in the Village of Cross Keys. A pashmina from Chezelle, with swirling paisleys or intricate woven geometric designs, is perfect for the holidays when paired with a cashmere sweater. Owner Patti Bavis-Puller is always hosting trunk shows by exciting new designers where her customers can snag a deal.

There are countless ways to dress for the holiday season, and luckily, the social calendar is usually booked up with opportunities to show off your looks. So go on, indulge in a little retail therapy and treat yourself. ’Tis the season, after all.


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