holiday fashion illustrationQ: The holiday invitations are flowing. Any tips for stretching my wardrobe through New Year’s Day?


A: Recycling your wardrobe can be a fun and fashionable exercise in creativity. Of course, it helps to start with a clean closet. Take the time to do a winter audit. Find out what items still fit, what should be discarded, and what should be donated to a local charity such as The Salvation Army. Coats that no longer fit will keep others warm during winter months. Donate work clothes to a group like Dress for Success, which provides professional attire to disadvantaged women around the world.

Once you have a clear understanding of what’s really in your closet, it will be easier to mix and match. Here are some inexpensive ideas to help you get through the holidays without resorting to that homemade sweater adorned with trees, bells, bows and a red-nosed reindeer, or those tacky 2010 sunglasses.


Take a treasure hunt: Check your jewelry box for old pins that deserve prime time or hit secondhand stores for funky yet inexpensive accessories. I like to create one-of-a kind necklaces or headbands by stringing one or two old pins on leftover satin ribbon. This trick also works on beaded necklaces. It only takes a few pins to make a bold statement. Guys can turn up the style factor with cufflinks. Again, secondhand stores have plenty of options and the look will instantly update a simple dress shirt, blazer and denim combo.

Tie one on: Turn a long scarf into a stylish obi sash. Here are the directions to tie the scarf properly. It’s an easy way to dress up a blouse or basic sheath. Adding pins to the sash also helps upgrade the look.


Opposites attract: Pair a prim party dress with a turtleneck or basic white T-shirt. Add colored tights, boots or layered necklaces to stand out from the department store crowd.

Play with color: Home décor Web sites pop thanks to fun color combinations that will inspire you to remix what’s already in your closet. Think charcoal gray and caramel, pink and purple, light blue and silver, apple green and chocolate. Guys, try wearing a pink button-down shirt. I promise the compliments will flow. If that’s too much of a fashion commitment, add a tie with pink accents. Not convinced that color is the way to go? Create a slimming silhouette by wearing one color from head to toe. Black always makes a dressy statement. But don’t be a one-hit wonder. Mix textures to create a unique look.

Embrace the cardigan: Take a tip from Michelle Obama and turn that cardi into a fashion statement by adding a belt, scarf, necklace or matching heels. This simple staple works with everything from blouses and skirts to tanks and basic slacks. If it works for the first lady, it should work for you.

Clutch the pearls, girls: Whether they are fake or real, pearls should be a part of every woman’s wardrobe. During the holidays, there is no such thing as too much of this fashion staple, layering as many as you can.

Add a belt: Whether it’s a simple sheath, a suit or a coatdress, adding a belt can change the outfit. Don’t let a wide waistline deter you from trying this look. Belts can be slimming if you focus on your natural waistline and start cinching.

Start buffing: A pair of freshly polished shoes can instantly update an outfit. If your dad was partial to Converse rather than cordovan, get a quick primer on properly polishing a shoe. GQ breaks down the essential steps. Pay it forward by sharing this tip with your friends, fellas. It’s all about filling up your bank of good eco-karma.

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Photo: Tanebeau/iStockphoto

How can I stretch my holiday wardrobe?
Morieka Johnson offers some tips for looking fresh during the holiday season.