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Season of Style

Fashion savvy from your neighbors

Jennifer Oakley
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Ashley Sloan

Ashley Sloan recommends adding some sparkle when dressing for holiday parties. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Dress to Dazzle!” “Creative Cocktail!” “Holiday Chic!” When the envelope is opened and the dress code is revealed, it can sometimes take a decoder to decipher what to wear to that seasonal soiree.

Whether the occasion is a black-tie affair, a Hanukah party, your kindergartener’s holiday program or Christmas cocktails, we’ve found some well-dressed Buzz residents to model outfits from their own closets and offer insight into “holiday dressing.”

 

Ashley Sloan

Ashley Sloan says she "had a hard time deciding which shoes to wear for the photo shoot because I love them so much. This is a common problem.” (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Ashley Sloan, oilfield service lender at Cadence Bank:

“I love fashion because it is a way to express myself and the mood I’m in. I believe it is a form of art that everyone takes part in. And, I love shoes – shoes last a long time and don’t tend to cycle out of fashion as quickly as clothing does, so I’ve built up quite the shoe collection. I tend to splurge on shoes if I feel like they are a good investment for quality, style and being timeless.  An added bonus is finding a pair of shoes that has a matching clutch that really completes the outfit and look.”

Advice for dressing for the holidays?

Have fun and venture out of your comfort zone by adding some sparkle.

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

Dazzle makes me think of something shiny so I would be sure to incorporate something that pops. You can add dazzle with a clutch, jewelry or shoes.

Who influences you when you dress up?

They say women dress to impress other women, and I think that’s true. Women recognize styles, brands and make-up more so than men.

What’s your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

I don’t think you can go wrong with a cocktail dress or skirt at any holiday party. In my opinion, the most confusing attire on an invitation is business attire. Since I work for a bank, business attire to me would mean to wear a suit, but other businesses aren’t so dressy. I still think a cocktail dress or skirt is best for business-attire parties, especially for ladies.

And what is the one thing you would never wear to a holiday party?

I would stay away from jeans unless they are black. Also, avoid brighter colors unless it is red. Throw all this advice out the window if you are going to a tacky holiday party!

Where are your go-to places to shop:

In person: Tootsies, Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic

Online: Gilt, StitchFix

 

Arthur Keller

Arthur Keller says his style icon is his father, who would dress up every day to go to work. “He was a dude.” (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Arthur Keller, principal of Letourneau Interests:

“When I was 21, I started working for Joe Pinter, who owned an upscale menswear store. I would put on a suit and go to class at University of Houston in the morning and then go to work every afternoon. It made me want to succeed in life and enjoy finer things in life. A lot of people hunt and fish, but I put my money in clothes.”

Do you have a favorite accessory to tie a holiday outfit together?

A pocket square with a suit makes you stand out. I am big into shoes. I love suede shoes. I will spend money on shoes and alligator belts. Socks also can always be a conversation piece.

Are there any must-wear colors when planning a holiday outfit?

A must-wear color to wear for the holidays is red. Whether you wear a tie, sweater or socks, red always accentuates holiday attire.

Where are your go-to places to shop:

In person: M. Wiesenthal, Ferragamo

Online: Peter Millar

Favorites: Hamilton shirts, Nick Lopez Tailoring

 

Jana Phillips

Jana Phillips says her advice for holiday dressing is to “always wear some sparkle in your jewelry, purse, shoe or the fabric of your outfit." (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Jana Phillips, publisher and owner of www.houstonhipandhaute.com:

“Fashion is important to me because it allows me to express myself creatively. You only have one chance to make a good first impression – and fashion is part of how I accomplish that.”

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

Wear something that makes you feel special, so when you walk in the room you feel confident. Wear at least one statement piece – jewelry, shoes or purse.

What is your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

I call the hostess and ask her what she is wearing. I do not want to outshine the hostess, so I take my cue from her.

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

Yes. I subscribe to the adage: Take one item off before you leave the house.

Can you recommend any sources to help people with their holiday dressing?

I prefer in-person shopping, and these people are wonderful: Elizabeth Rose at Tootsies, Maria Cedillo at Neiman Marcus, Denise Darnell at Leslie & Co., all of the ladies at Cheeky Vintage, Susan and Elizabeth Hancock at Tres Chic.

Online: The Zoe Report, Net-a-Porter, Andrea’ Bonner of Style on Demand

 

Greg and Kate Scheinman

Greg and Kate Scheinman both share a passion for fashion and look to each other for inspiration. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Greg Scheinman, insurance broker with Insgroup and owner of ROW Studios:

“Clothes are a way to express my personality and differentiate myself, and I believe great clothes inspire confidence. The holidays are an opportunity to push the envelope to be more creative and showcase a bit more individuality. The holidays are fun, and that’s what style and fashion should be as well.”

What is your biggest piece of advice for dressing for the holidays?

Just because it’s the holidays does not mean it’s a free pass to go nuts. Keep it simple, classy, iconic – and whatever you wear, make sure it fits properly.

Who influences you when you dress up?

I always dress to complement what Kate, my wife, wears. So if she’s going rock star, boho or classic, I try to just look good next to her – which is pretty easy since when we’re together, nobody’s looking at me anyway. 

What makes dressing for the holidays different than the rest of the year?

You get a little more creative license around the holidays: hats, scarves, textures that you really can’t wear much of the year in Houston. 

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

You can never go wrong with a well-tailored, navy, two-button suit, Hamilton shirt, Cartier belt and Alden shoes. And no accessories other than a great watch and wedding ring. 

What’s your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

Don’t even try, unless it’s a costume or theme-type party, and then you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons. Otherwise, just be respectful of the intentions of the event and then wear what makes you feel the most confident and comfortable. 

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a:

New Year’s Eve party?

The last two years I’ve been very into the tuxedo jacket and knit tie with ripped-jeans look. I like mixing things that typically don’t go together, like sneakers with suits, which I do year-round.

Holiday office party?

Be the best dressed guy in the room, no matter what your position in the company. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. 

Where are your go-to places to shop?

In person: STAG Provisions for Men for clothing and for Randolph Engineering sunglasses and Chippewa boots; The Class Room; Reserve Supply Company for Railcar Denim clothing; J. Crew for Ludlow suits; Nike

At what age did you become interested in fashion?

My dad was the coolest and always looked great. I just always paid attention, idolized him and tried to follow his lead – so I guess the answer is for as long as I can remember.

Do you shop sales? Do you like to look for a bargain?

Quality costs money, and I’ll definitely pay for a good story behind a brand or designer. I always want to support passionate entrepreneurs. That being said, of course I’m always looking for a good deal. I just got an amazing Theory leather motorcycle jacket at a store in Austin that retails at $1,200, for $300, and it’s my score of the year! 

And what is the one thing you would never wear to a holiday party?

Holidays or any other day of the year, I never wear pleats.

 

Lisa Heim, Kate Scheinman and Joanna Hartland Marks

Lisa Heim, Kate Scheinman and Joanna Hartland Marks (from left) all believe that adding some sparkle to holiday attire and accessories is spot-on. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Kate Scheinman, self-described CEO of the Scheinman household:

“I appreciate fashion because it depicts your specific taste, your lifestyle, your interests, your own individuality. I believe you should own your own style and rock it with confidence.”

What is your biggest piece of advice for dressing for the holidays?

An extra dose of glamour is a must. A beautiful cape, fur collar, dazzling jewelry such as a pearl ear cuff or a fabulous adorned shoe will glam a simple dress up.

Who influences you when you dress up?

The occasion influences me the most. Always dress for the venue and be true to your style. Greg and I like to be in sync with our attire. He is a style maven himself, so I always like his opinion.

What makes dressing for the holidays different than the rest of the year?

The holidays are steeped in tradition. I agree with designer Tom Ford who said that “dressing well is a form of good manners.” Whether you are going to temple, church or a New Year’s party, being well dressed depicts how special it is to you and to others.

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

Wear what makes you feel glamorous or chic. Go for an updo, some ruby red lips, a bit of shimmer on the eyes, a velvet wrap or knock-out necklace. Smile!

What’s your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

Know your audience, consider the venue and always be true to your own personal style.

Do you have a favorite accessory to tie a holiday outfit together?

I love a glamorous shoe!

Are there any must-wear colors when planning a holiday outfit?

I am loving jewel tones for the winter holidays: ruby red, sapphire blue and emerald green.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a New Year’s Eve party?

We have been to New Year’s parties when we’ve dressed to the nines, and we have had many New Year’s celebrations at home with our boys. Consider your venue and always have party hats, noise makers, good snacks, champagne and your New Year’s resolutions. Walking into any of these occasions with a smile is your greatest asset. I’ve seen many a beautiful ensemble lose their luster without a smile!

Where are your go-to places to shop?

In person: Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Zara, Urban Outfitters

Online: Revolve Clothing, Shopstyle, Farfetch

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

No. It is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.

Can you recommend any sources that can help people with their holiday dressing?

Magazines: Elle, Vogue, Porte, Instyle

Blogs: Rachel Zoe, Goop

Online: Cusp, Shopstyle, Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, Nordstrom

Catalog: Neiman Marcus holiday catalog

Do you shop sales? Do you like to look for a bargain?

Do not buy a bargain for a bargain’s sake. It will live in your closet and never see the light of day. Shopstyle has a brilliant feature that lets you set up alerts for when certain brands go on sale.

 

Tom Zabel

Tom Zabel cites classic dressers Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan as style icons. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Tom Zabel, partner at Zabel Freeman law firm:

“I like fashion because it makes me comfortable when I am dressed appropriately for the occasion, and you can express part of your personality in what you wear. I especially like the holidays because it gives you more license to wear color and have fun in what you wear.”

What is your biggest piece of advice for dressing for the holidays?

My biggest piece of advice for men is not to be afraid to wear some color. I always gravitated towards brown and blue in the past, but my wife convinced me that men can – and should – wear color.

Who influences you when you dress up?

I have a daughter who is 16 and a wife who loves clothes, so I would say that it is definitely the two women in my life.

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

I think formal wear always makes a great impression, and during the holidays a tuxedo with a colorful vest and bow tie is a great idea.

Do you have a favorite accessory to tie a holiday outfit together?

I have a huge collection of cufflinks. Last year, I received a pair of Santa Claus cufflinks from BG. It’s hard to hide that is Christmas when you are wearing Santa Claus on your sleeves.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a New Year’s Eve party?

I like formal wear for New Year’s Eve, with an interesting and colorful tie and pocket square.

Where are your go-to places to shop in person:

Saks Fifth Avenue, M Penner.

What can you wear during the holidays that is different than the rest of the year?

I think I tend to wear more red during the holidays. I also like to wear cashmere blazers with colorful pocket squares.

At what age did you become interested in fashion?

I probably really didn’t care about clothes too much until I was in my 30s. I also couldn’t really afford good clothes until then.

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

I think that as long as you are comfortable you should wear whatever you want. However, I would personally never do plaid. I will not wear a tuxedo to a party unless I know that is the main attire for every other guy who is going.

Can you recommend sources that can help people with their holiday dressing?

Rue La La and Gilt offer a lot of great men’s deals.

 

Lisa Heim

Lisa Heim says her favorite accessory to tie an outfit together for the holidays is “a great pair of shoes.” (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Lisa Heim, active community volunteer:

“I like fashion to embellish who I am. It is like a pretty gift. The wrapping is gorgeous, but it’s what is inside that counts.”

Who influences you when you dress up?

Don’t let anyone ever make you believe that women dress solely for men. We actually dress for each other, and other women influence me on how I dress.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a Christmas or Hanukah party?

Wear a festive outfit that is unexpected. It is easy to wear a black dress – just add some pretty sparkle like a piece of jewelry or wear a festive top with some leather pants or a cocktail dress that has a great feature like feathers. Red lipstick? Yes! An awesome shoe? Total yes!

Holiday office party?

Don’t wear anything you will regret on Monday morning. Do you want your outfit to be the subject at the water cooler? Be conservative, yet dress up.

Your kid’s holiday school program?

Our kids love to be proud of their parents. If their program is at a church venue, respect the sanctuary or chapel and wear a pretty dress or pant outfit. If it is in an auditorium/gym/hall, a great sweater with jeans or skirt with boots. Do avoid leggings and gym wear.

Where are your go-to places to shop?

In person: Tootsies, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Zara, The Runway Shop at T.J. Maxx

Online: Gilt, Rue La La, Shop Bop, Yoox

At what age did you become interested in fashion?

My very first time clothing became a priority for me was when I was in middle school and realized I had to have a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

 

Joanna Hartland Marks

Joanna Hartland Marks says Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Kate Middleton are her style icons. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Joanna Hartland Marks, paralegal:

“Fashion is a way for me to express myself. I enjoy the process of putting together an outfit, and I love watching the new trends to incorporate those into my own fashion pieces.”

Who influences you when you dress up?

Whenever I am choosing an outfit for any occasion, big or small, I almost always consult with my twin sister, Hannah McNair. She has a great eye for tasteful fashion.

What makes dressing for the holidays different than the rest of the year?

When dressing for the holiday season I like to have fun with different fabrics such as beads, sequins and crystals. When picking jewelry and accessories, I tend to go with more statement pieces.

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

I immediately think something that sparkles. Doesn’t have to be new; a vintage piece paired with a current piece is a perfect way to make a statement of your own.

What’s your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

Should the invitation read Holiday Attire, it all depends on where the party is located. If it is outdoors I may wear a pant jumpsuit, or if it is a dinner party I always wear a dress or a skirt and top. When in doubt, wear a cocktail dress.

Do you have a favorite accessory to tie a holiday outfit together?

I love a great Judith Leiber handbag. They are each so unique and make a statement without being over the top. Although, this year I am looking forward to wearing my new ruby and diamond ring I received from my husband as a “push present” on the day our son was born.

Are there any must-wear colors when planning a holiday outfit?

Red is a go-to color of mine, maybe because it has been my favorite color my entire life. However, I believe that cream, black with a sparkle, a deep purple or even a beautiful emerald are colors to stick with.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a:

Christmas party?

I like to have a pop of red or green in my outfit when dressing for a Christmas party. If you are wearing black dress throw on a pair of red shoes and/or a red handbag.

Hannukah party?

Hannukah parties tend to be more casual and I love to break out my boots, jackets and jeans. I accessorize with simple jewelry and a scarf.

Your kid’s holiday school program?

My children’s school program is one of my favorite events to attend during the holidays but it is also a casual occasion. So pairing jeans, a red or navy blouse or sweater and high boot are what I prefer to wear.

Where are your go-to places to shop?

Clothes: Tootsies

Shoes: Christian Louboutin

What can you wear during the holidays that is different than the rest of the year?

I do not pair red and green together any other time of the year, even with jewelry. I also tend to wear a more subdued look when dressing for a normal dinner party versus one during the holiday season.

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

Yes! If you look in the mirror and think you are overdressed, try taking off one piece of jewelry or accessory. If your dress is sequin and your shoes are crystal, that is just too much razzle-dazzle.

Can you recommend any sources that can help people with their holiday dressing?

Stylist: Iris Shaftel

Blog: Up Close and Stylish

Do you shop sales? Do you like to look for a bargain?

I am always looking for a great sale. There are many times I can find a top or even a great accessory and pair it with something in my closet to make a fantastic outfit.

 

Staci Henderson

Staci Henderson recommends wearing “rich jewel tones, sequins and beading” this holiday season (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Staci Henderson, philanthropist and fundraiser:

“Fashion is a personal way to express my creativity to the outside world. Putting a look together, including hair and makeup, tells the world how I am feeling or how I want to be portrayed that day. It’s not for vanity or wanting approval, but purely something that brings me happiness.”

What is your biggest piece of advice for dressing for the holidays?

Now is your time to sparkle, but resist the urge to wear earrings that look like actual tree ornaments.

Who influences you when you dress up?

The past. I’m a huge fan of vintage fashion, especially the ’60s. I just love Mod. I’ve been doing a lot of ’70s Halston-style pieces lately too.

Do you have a favorite accessory to tie a holiday outfit together?

I go bold – but only one item. I may do a large statement necklace with a simple dress, or an arm full of bracelets, chandelier earrings – but not all at once.

Are there any must-wear colors when planning a holiday outfit?

No. But wearing red and green together kind of annoys me. Nobody wants to look like wrapping paper.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a Christmas party or a Hanukah party?

I dress the same for both: I’ll throw on a great mini dress or something that hits right below the knee – I don’t find knees worthy of highlighting!

New Year’s Eve party?

New Year’s Eve is my favorite! It’s the one time a year that you don’t have to ask yourself: Is this too much? Bring on the bling!

Holiday office party?

Your workplace is still your workplace, regardless of the season. This is not the place to try out a plunging neckline or fishnet stockings. I dress for company parties as though I was going to a dressy dinner with my in-laws.

Where are your go-to places to shop?

In person: Tootsies, Azuz, Sloan Hall, Wardrobe, More Than You Can Imagine

Online: Yoox

What can you wear during the holidays that is different than the rest of the year?

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s the only time of year I’ll wear a fluffy sweater, like angora and chenille.

At what age did you become interested in fashion?

In kindergarten. During a weekend visit with my grandmother, she took me to a garage sale. I bought a yellow lace mini dress with bell sleeves. I was absolutely smitten, and thought it was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen.

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

Yes. Don’t make the mistake of wearing a pageant dress – it just looks like a costume.

Can you recommend any sources that can help people with their holiday dressing?

I highly recommend enlisting the help of a stylist. They are not just for celebrities anymore, and can help you narrow your choices based on personal style, body type and what works with pieces you already own. My favorite Houston-based stylist is Lisa Powers.

Do you shop sales? Do you like to look for a bargain?

I sure do! I take great pride in finding a deal. I have no shame at all. I tell all my friends if there is a great sale I found; it should be standard girl code.

And what is the one thing you would never wear to a holiday party?

I’m over the ugly Christmas sweater party. Why spend money on something that is unattractive? If it has a tree or a snowman or any reindeer on it, just know that is not OK – and that will earn you a snapshot somewhere with a little black bar over your eyes.

 

Pam Sengelmann

Pam Sengelmann says a little glitter goes a long way so wear beading but keep the overall look clean-lined, classic and classy. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Pam Sengelmann, Salvation Army volunteer and co-owner of La Bodega Global Treasures & Vintage Finds:

“Fashion is my way to express myself. It expresses my individuality, and I like to express myself in unique ensembles.”

What is your biggest piece of advice for dressing for the holidays?

Keep it simple and classic, and only one holiday accent is enough – even if it is just red lipstick, pick a really good red. And another word of advice: Alterations and undergarments can make (or break) an outfit! Make sure they are both good.

What makes dressing for the holidays different than the rest of the year?

Dressing UP! I love a twirly dress, a pretty shoe, girly-ness. Bring out a lace shawl, sparkly jewelry and sparkly handbags. 

What’s your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

I think it is always better to be a bit overdressed than underdressed. It flatters the hosts to know you cared enough and were excited to look nice for their event.

Do you have a favorite accessory to tie a holiday outfit together?

A fabulous handbag or two that my darling husband gifted me with.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a Christmas party?

Add some sparkle with earrings, a handbag, or shoes – but not all three at the same time.

Where are your go-to places to shop?

In person: Cheeky Vintage, Zara, Macy’s

Online: Etsy

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

Yes! You can be too much of everything: too many matchy-matchy jewels, too much bling, too much perfume, eye make-up, done-up big hair.

And what is the one thing you would never wear to a holiday party?

I would never wear anything that has bells or Santa or snowmen on it. And I would probably not wear red either because there is too much red at holiday parties. Having said that if you have a divine, well fitted, elegant red dress, then go for it. Sometimes you have to eat your words because I picked red for this photo shoot! 

 

Pam Sengelmann, Staci Henderson and Mary Catherine Sears

Pam Sengelmann, Staci Henderson and Mary Catherine Sears (from left) are all party-ready with the right amount of glitter and glam. (Photo: nickdelatorrephoto.com)

Mary Catherine Sears, River Oaks Baptist School Development Associate/The Junior League of Houston, Inc. volunteer:

“To me, fashion is more than just putting on clothes. What you wear tells the world who you are and how you feel about yourself. During the holidays, my outfits will reflect the feeling of festivity and celebration that is in the air.”

When the party invitation says “Dress to Dazzle,” what do you think is important to wear?

Dress to Dazzle means look your best. Take extra time with your hair and make-up. Wear the dress, shoes or outfit that you have been saving for a special occasion.

What’s your best advice to figure out how to interpret dressing directions on an invitation?

Always call the hostess or organizer of the event to see what they plan to wear. That always helps me figure out what I should wear.

Are there any must-wear colors when planning a holiday outfit?

I feel like you tend to see more jewel-toned hues with holiday dressing: reds, golds, deep blues, darker shades of green, rich purples and my favorite: black.

Do you have any specific advice for dressing for a holiday office party?

Be appropriate. Don’t forget that your boss (and the person who signs your paycheck) will be there.

Your kid’s holiday school program?

Wear something that looks nice but is comfortable. If possible, refrain from athletic and yoga apparel.

Where are your go-to places to shop?

Neiman Marcus Last Call, Anthropologie, Tootsies, Pomp and Circumstance Boutique, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, DSW, Zara, Muse Boutique

What can you wear during the holidays that is different than the rest of the year?

My Jimmy Choo evening shoes. During the holidays, I will break them out and wear with pretty much anything at night: jeans and a cute top, black pants, cocktail dress, black-tie. They add just the right amount of sparkle.

Can you ever be too over-dressed for a holiday party?

You can definitely over-do it with the amount of sparkles, sequins and accessories you have on. However, with some people going to multiple parties in one night, some may require a dressier outfit than others. In that situation, I think you should go with the dressier outfit.

Can you recommend sources that can help people with their holiday dressing?

Blogs: C. Style, Sunday Beach. Both are written by Houstonians.

And what is the one thing you would never wear to a holiday party?

At a holiday party, you will never catch me in an ugly sweater or costume.

Editor’s note: The Buzz Magazines would like to thank SkyHouse River Oaks for hosting our photo shoot.

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