If you can't tell by now, I am a fan of Talbots and I am especially a Talbots fangirl when it comes to their holiday collection. Each year, Talbots comes out with gorgeous sweaters with a festive feel, pieces with a bit of shine and holiday style to incorporate into your existing wardrobe, and in my opinion, the most sophisticated collection of cocktail and occasionwear for us grown women. And I find them easy to style and wear beyond the holidays. Read below as I share my favorites and styling tips for this holiday season and beyond.
For reference, last winter Talbots had a lady tux and I shared 10 different ways to style it. This is not my first lady tux, you can see me style a Talbots lady tux all the way back in 2017, styled that same lady tux with a satin bra for a sexier version in 2019, with a white shirt and a Talbots brooch as a bowtie alternative, and with a cashmere turtleneck and flats. I've styled Talbots cashmere with a skirt and with dress pants for the holidays, and my daughter for the holidays had matching Talbots Fair Isle sweaters, caps, and puffer jackets. And this black watch Talbots suit from one of their holiday collections has been worn many times together and as separates. I could go on, but you can just see in my Talbots archives I am a holiday collection fan.
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Exploring The Talbots Holiday Collection
Talbots sends influencers they work with a Talbots Holiday Collection Preview where we can see the pieces they will be offering over the season, even if they are not yet available in Talbots New Arrivals. And like every year, I am going gaga on the gorgeous pieces that are right on trend while also being so classic they'll be wearable time and time again.
The Talbots Holiday Collection Preview has plenty of gorgeous outerwear, from casual puffers to elegant Italian melton overcoats, cozy teddy coats and luxe faux fur vests and coats in a range of styles and lengths. There is workwear, gorgeous wraps, weekend style, but I like to focus on the pieces in the Holiday Collection that help us get ready for the end of the year social calendar. You can find which pieces from the Talbots Holiday Collection are currently available at this link, or by going to the “Cocktail & Party” submenu on the Talbots site.
Whether it's an office potluck or a New Year's Eve gala, most of us will have at least one occasion where we may wish to dress in a more festive manner. Even if the end of the year isn't a social time for you, Talbots has such gorgeous and versatile occasionwear and separates for the holiday season it's smart to shop it to have for the remainder of the year.
The Cocktail Pantsuit (AKA a Lady Tux)
I am a big fan of dressy suits for most any occasion, especially in the winter. Why should our legs freeze why men stay cozy in jackets and full-length trousers? Talbots does a fantastic job of creating occasionwear suiting and this red velvet blazer and matching red velvet pants is proof. Red is a HUGE color for 2023, but it's always in style, especially around the holidays.
I would style this suit as-is, with no base layer. I would choose a black bra of satin or some smooth fabric that if it ends up being seen, will look like a corseted top not like an everyday piece of intimates. My personal picks that I own are the Soma Stunning Support Smooth Full Coverage Bra and the Fantasie Smoothing T-Shirt Bra.
If you prefer a base layer, I like the Cashmere Charming Shell in red or even the purple (black is too harsh IMO). The Tie Neck Halter Top would look so chic and remain dressy if you remove the blazer. Or you could do something unobtrusive like the Quince washable silk cami (here I would do black). If you can't match the red, go with a contrast color like hot pink or purple which would still feel festive, especially in a dressy fabric.
The suit is featured with the Woven Velvet Wristlet but personally, I would choose a different bag that would make more of a statement and be more versatile year-round with other dressy pieces. I adore the Floral Velvet Minaudière which would go with so much three seasons of the year; Talbots also has matching loafers that would be a chic and comfy shoe option for this suit!
Personally, with a slim pant like this, a flat shoe would look quite chic. If those floral velvet loafers aren't your jam, check out Birdies. Birdies has a range of velvet flats that have cushioning and some of their styles are available in wide widths.
Wear the blazer with a Breton tee, a holiday graphic tee, a cashmere turtleneck, a crisp white shirt, a silky camisole and on the bottom, a pair of dark wash jeans or trouser jeans, black pants of most any cut (though I'd choose a proper waistband and tuck in the top). Pair the pants with a sparkly or shiny blouse, a lace shell, a dressy sweater or twinset, a cashmere turtleneck or one with metallic threads woven through.
The Sweater and Sparkly Skirt
This is another look from the Talbots Holiday Collection that is eternally chic. A cashmere turtleneck with a sparkly skirt. While this skirt is not yet available on the Talbots site, Talbots has several skirts already available in their Cocktail & Party collection. As for silhouette and length… 2023 is all about fluid fashion my friend. Do what feels right for you. A slim pencil that hits above the knee or mid-calf. A full skirt, midi or maxi length. A slip-style skirt, or something micropleated, or tiered with chiffon or lace. The key is a dressy fabric, and to go tonal (similar color sweater and skirt).
The sweater doesn't have to be a turtleneck, and it doesn't have to be cashmere, but it has to read luxe and sophisticated. A turtleneck, a crewneck, a jewel neck twinset, or one of Talbots' iconic Audrey sweaters are a good choice. They are trim but not skinny, a style you can wear with jeans or work pants as well as this dressy look, and I find hold up year after year with a bit of sweater shaving. No need to size up, I find going with my regular to smaller size with Talbots provides an elegant yet comfortable fit, even over curves.
The way to take a turtleneck sweater from day to night goes beyond just a dressy skirt. It's imperative to make all the accessories dressy.
- Unless you're wearing a full skirt, you may wish to go with a small heel like these kitten heels or these strappy sandals. A metallic will work with most any look and also get you plenty of style the remainder of the year, though satin, silk, and velvet will also read After 5.
- The bag needs to be formal. A small clutch or pouch on a chain in velvet, silk, satin, beading, sequins, faux fur or feathers, or some other dressy textile.
- Add a sparkly statement piece of jewelry. A necklace or earrings, but no need for both. If you want to up the bling, add a bracelet or cocktail ring so there is space between the sparkle. For the holiday season, you can't go wrong with snowflake-inspired crystal earrings and a coordinating stretch bracelet. I have similar pieces from Talbots that are years old and worn every winter with casual and dressy looks.
The Monochromatic Look
The spotlight of this look is the coat, which is magnificent (and not yet available), but what I want to speak about is the sweater and pants underneath. Because a monochromatic look in a festive color can read dressy. In fact, it will read more dressy than the same look in black, or separates in different colors that are made from dressier fabrics. Thank you to Barbie for making this gorgeous shade of pink a THING for 2023; it's a lovely alternative to red for this time of year while still reading festive and formal.
These are the Talbots Weston Pants which aren't a typical dressy fabric, but because they are an elevated wool, they catch the light. And the wider leg swishes and looks dressy. While Talbots has a lot of pink this season, to get the perfectly matching look, search for “Violet Rose” which is the exact color name. Right now Talbots has this sleeveless sweater and this cropped jacket in the color.
However, in the Talbots Cocktail & Party Collection, they have a lot of matched sets that aren't relying on black or red. I am loving the Purple Majesty collection, where they have this adorable taffeta skirt that would create a dress effect with this taffeta blouse, but also look fabulous with the cashmere cardigan and matching shell, the Ruffle Neck Sweater, and the sparkly purple jewelry Talbots has this season. There's even a gorgeous coat in this color!
When it comes to a monochromatic look, there's no need to have matching shoes and bag. Here, you can go with black, or a metallic, or a print, or even a contrast color. Red with purple, pink with red, green with blue, blue with purple, teal with turquoise… you get the idea. Something similar but not the same. Keep the fabrics dressy, and if possible, have the shoes and bag match in the same color (or have one a print incorporating the color of the other accessory). Add sparkly earrings or necklace, ring or bracelet to make it clear it's a dressy look.
The Shift Dress
I hate to even share this look as none of it is yet on the Talbots site, but I am LOVING this concept for holiday style for grown women! Rejoice in the return of the shift dress, whether it is straight or a-line. This is a style that works with a range of bodies and can prove comfortable AND looks chic with hosiery.
The black with gold foil dots is festive and fun, but doesn't specifically read holiday. You could wear this with bare legs and gold heels in April, with tights and suede knee-high boots in October, and for the holidays with a bare, black stockinged, or black tight-ed leg and black shoes. And if it's a loose fit and over the knee, you can totally wear this with a very low heel or flat with a pointed toe out of a formal fabric. If you do wear black hosiery, the shoes should also be black.
What really makes it holiday is the matching bag. And don't think a bag like this can only be worn with the same dress; this minaudière box clutch would look adorable with your not-so little black dress, would dress up a cocktail pantsuit, would look fun with a solid colored dress in a jewel tone or primary, and will glitz up a monochromatic look like I discussed above.
I personally wouldn't style this with the sparkly statement necklace. Gold and crystal earrings, jet beads or earrings… that I think would look very chic and may already be in your jewelry box. I would, however, use my face as an accessory and have a pop of color with a red or hot pink pout or a more dramatic eye (one or the other, not both).
The Formal Fabrics
You can't go wrong for the holidays with classic pieces in formal fabrics. Sequins, paillettes, beading, chiffon, lace, velvet, satin, brocade, faux fur… a simple sweater or pair of trousers is instantly festive and feeling more formal in such a textile. And if you're one who feels most at home in black, it's easy to mix multiple formal fabrics together for a fun look that is surprisingly not over the top. I mean seriously… this look here is a faux fur jacket, a sweater decorated with paillettes, and satin pants with heels and it doesn't feel at all gaudy and totally chic.
This photo features the Talbots Satin Wide Leg Pants which look like a good buy to dress up a range of pieces all year long. Envision come summer with a satin shell or camisole and flat gold sandals, spring with a lavender silk blouse and metallic mules, fall with a sequined shell and kitten heels. The flat front means they will look great with tucked in or loose tops.
Here, the pants are styled with the Pailette Embellished Turtleneck which I think is so pretty and would also look great with ivory trousers or even a pair of dark wash jeans. But these pants would also look great with the Sequin Embellished Jacket, styled with the Satin Boyfriend Shirt (either color, tucked in or left out), a cashmere or metallic thread sweater, or your favorite holiday-themed sweater.
The coat is not yet available, but I am crushing on this Quilted Velvet Jacket. But a jacket isn't necessary to complete this look when wearing indoors. As for shoes, with a black satin wide-leg pant you have a lot of options. You can do a flat, a low heel, or a strappy higher heel. You could do leather as long as it is well-polished, no contrast stitching or soles, and has a dressy sole (no lugs or athletic styles). You can also do most any dressy fabric including patent leather.
Thinking about Holiday Fashion
I know, it feels like Labor Day was just last week but before you know it the holiday season will be upon us. And the closer we get to the end of the year the less chance for selection of styles and sizes. And if you shop now, you will have time for any tailoring or searching for accessories. A lot of these ideas can be created with items you may already own, pieces you can thrift or find on consignment, and expert sewists can also recreate much of this collection.
Fashion is fluid in 2023. Things you've owned for years, if they fit well (tailoring is something everyone does, that's why celebs and high-powered folks look so good, they never wear off the rack) wear them. Look for ways to make it modern. Play with monochrome looks, mixing dressy fabrics, updating an existing look with new shoes or a new bag. Nothing is out of style if it looks good on you and makes you feel good.
If you know social occasions will be coming up, plan sooner rather than later. Just like with holiday shopping, the sooner you start the less stressful the season and the more likely you can properly enjoy yourself. This is the season of comfort and joy, let your wardrobe dress the part providing you comfortable attire that is a joy to wear!