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How Fashion-Forward Should You Dress for Thanksgiving Dinner? Two Vogue.com Writers Face Off

Last updated: 11-13-2017

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How Fashion-Forward Should You Dress for Thanksgiving Dinner? Two Vogue.com Writers Face Off

Those enamored with fashion are well aware of the dangers of Thanksgiving dinner. Wear that new-season Comme des Garçons piece and your family will mock and ridicule you through the dessert course. On the other hand, an understated sweater and skirt raise eyebrows and evoke comments like, “Wait, I thought you were into fashion?” Here, two Vogue.com staffers share their takes for putting together a fashionable and family-friendly look.

Steff Yotka lets her freak flag fly . . . When it comes to events, I have never been one for an understated look. In the fifth grade, I wore pleather pants, a furry crop top, and 5-inch platforms on a field trip to the Metropolitan Opera—we were instructed to wear tea dresses—which is to say that proper dress codes have long evaded me. In the years since, I haven’t gotten any better at abiding by the rules, though I have developed a playbook of dos and don’ts for blending daring dressing with societal expectations.

The through-line of my holiday dressing rulebook goes like this: Do opt for fashionable pieces that update mainstream classics, and don’t try anything so wacky that even a fashion person would flinch. In practical application, this has found me at the dinner table in hippie Anna Sui dresses, vintage Fiorucci jackets, and one wacky Prada dress layered over a sensible black turtleneck. Yes, family members and friends have on occasion said, “Well, that dress sure is in-ter-est-ing,” but keeping a little fashionable panache sure feels better than showing up in jeans and a T-shirt. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I once wore a cropped suit with neon red socks and men’s brogues—even my fashion-loving parents were not totally sold.

The good news is that this season’s runways held plenty of inspiration for just left-of-center dressing. A personal favorite were the updated band jackets, flitty dresses, and platform sandals at Sacai, which will likely accrue the right mix of compliments and curious glances. Marni’s drawstring dresses and flats are similarly cool, while Louis Vuitton’s deconstructed suiting puts a bold twist on standard fare formalwear. Even Balenciaga’s spandex-laden collection of neon colors yielded some dinner-ready outfits, like Catherine McNeil’s striped blouse and black trousers. Sure, you might want to leave the ottoman bag at home, but let’s be honest, stretch pants that look chic and feel comfortable are sort of the perfect Thanksgiving outfit anyway!

Emily Farra goes low-key and polished . . . No matter the occasion, I’m all about “doing you” and wearing what makes you happy. But something about the holidays makes me want to go the polished and classic route—and not just to avoid questions about my outfit (an acquaintance recently saw my wide-leg jeans and said, a little backhandedly, “Are these something I should know about?”). In my mind, Thanksgiving looks like a Ralph Lauren ad: Fair Isle sweaters, leather boots, a roaring fire, and, in an ideal world, a few horses.

Or perhaps I’m just into keeping it low-key because I often don’t leave the house on Thanksgiving. With most of the cooking done in advance, I usually wake up early to help my mom finish the last chores—still in my pajamas—then set the table, tidy up the (already spotless) house, and eventually change into a festive-but-comfy outfit to wear from 4:00 p.m. till midnight. Once our family and friends arrive, we alternate between watching football on the floor to standing around the stack of hors d’oeuvres to playing with our beloved Yorkie, Raj, in the backyard—not exactly the time to try PVC pants! Instead, my “holiday dressing” formula just looks like a slightly upgraded version of my everyday one: something practical, like jeans, mixed with something special, like a velvet jacket or giant earrings.

Looking back through the Fall ’16 collections, there’s plenty of simple and chic inspiration hiding among the tracksuits and mashed-up prints. Consider the high-low mix at Brock Collection, where Kristopher Brock and Laura Vassar paired jeans with mink jackets and oversize turtlenecks with beaded velvet skirts. None of it looked forced or “try hard,” and I loved that every look was finished with velvet brogues; rarely do I find myself in heels anymore. Rebecca Taylor had lots of velvet, too; the quiet standout was a floral-print velvet dresswith puffed, ’40s-ish sleeves. I’ve worn it to the office with loafers, but I’d feel just as comfortable wearing it with heels for a black-tie event. The velvet dresses at Attico are similarly flexible; in fact, I think anything velvet is a safe bet for Thanksgiving. It’s both of-the-moment and timeless; looks festive but feels like pj’s; and makes a statement without bells or whistles. It’s dressed up, but not—a fitting description of how most cool women want to look these days.


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