How To

The Busy Girl's Guide to Holiday Dressing

Houston designer Merin Guthrie shares her secrets on how to go from professional to party-ready—just add sparkle.

By Merin Guthrie December 22, 2016

When it comes to holiday dressing, I have one word: sparkle.

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Houston designer Merin Guthrie starts with her Kit travel shift ($185) and loads on the accessories.

And while we Texans have been known to get in trouble when loading on the baubles—there is such a thing as too much—a bit of glitz here and there makes holiday dressing easy. After all, Audrey Hepburn may have mused in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that it was “tacky to wear diamonds before 40,” but she accessorized her famous little black dress with oversized gems tucked into her hair and dangling 'round her neck.

The challenges mount for the modern Holly Golightly, though, as we flit from our desks to the office holiday bash or as we dash from the job site to the school auditorium. Because many of our day-to-days just don’t allow for us to make a pit stop at home for a full-fledged outfit change, the place to start—as any good makeup artist will tell you—is with a strong foundation.  

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Mignonne Gavigan Madeline earrings, $240 at Biscuit Home.

Running a small fashion company means that I’m almost always wearing jeans or head-to-toe black. (I know, I know, so typically fashion.) I start with either a classic black dress like our Kit travel shift or jeans and a crisp white blouse. And then I pile on the accessories while en route to the holiday shindig du jour.

If you’re anything like me, anything you’re going to wear at 7 p.m. has to fit into your oversized purse at 7 a.m. Hence my next piece of advice: think small. One of my most prized ‘instant party’ possessions is a bejeweled headband, like this dazzler from Nordstrom. Fish it out of the bottomless bag, pop it on, and I’m ready for cocktails. I’ve worn it with short hair and long, to the swankiest of parties and to the most casual, and I always snag a compliment.

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Kate Spade Abigail heels, $328 

Jewelry is also an obvious choice, but for something less obvious than the inevitable Christmas light necklace, I’ve been eyeing Mignonne’s amazing, oversized winged earrings at Biscuit for weeks. I also love the bold, unique color and design of Brass Thread’s custom longhorn necklaces (ask my husband, one is on my Christmas list). 

We all know that shoes make the outfit, and nothing is easier than sliding on a bit of glitter in the parking lot before the party. Kate Spade has been making great sparkly shoes forever, from the more demure flash of the Anastasia pump to the all-out glamour of the Abigail heel (it has mink tassels—mink!). Been on your feet all day? Not to fear, they even have gold glitter Keds!

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Elaine Turner Annabella clutch, $179 at Elaine Turner.

Let’s not forget a bag. Nothing gives away your day-to-night outfit secrets like walking in with a giant tote, but there's a simple solution. My best friend always tosses her phone and wallet in a clutch, and throws the clutch in her purse. She’s a genius, and I long ago learned to follow in her accessorizing footsteps. My gold Elaine Turner clutch gets a ton of wear this time of the year, and it lets me leave my massive tote in the car when it’s party time.

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Steve Guthrie cape, $140 at

To take it a bit bigger, I love this brocade Steve Guthrie bolero cape—it folds up neatly and wears well with anything from my go-to black dress to my boyfriend jeans and blouse. Speaking of brocade, I swapped my jeans for our metallic Kit party skirt for my husband’s corporate holiday dinner the other day. And because I’m classy, I did so in the car on the way there like my mama taught me. I’m sure Holly would approve.

Merin Guthrie is the Founder and CEO of Kit, an innovative Made in America clothing start-up changing the way clothes are made. Their e-commerce platform offers custom-fit clothing based on each customer's height, weight, build and muscle mass.

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