Dressing for the holidays is part of the season's fun.
But forget the images you see in fashion magazines and on feel-good television commercials. In Southern California, the weather seldom requires swaddling in a plaid cashmere scarf, chunky fleece-lined boots, nubby cable sweater and peacoat.
And we try to be savvy enough to just say no to a tacky Christmas sweater (unless we mean to wear it in an ultra-cool, ironic way).
So how in this land of seasonless dressing does one add holiday cheer when the weather outside is far from frightful?
We asked some of the city's most influential designers, stylists and all-around-tastemakers what they wear to feel more festive, even when the thermometer rarely stays below 50 for long. We learned that all it takes is one or two special touches — a certain shade of red, a pair of glittery heels or a velvet tux jacket — to be Christmasy without the kitsch.
Raven Kauffman: The accessories designer says, "I always look forward to the holidays because I can't wait to break out some of the many treasures my wardrobe has been acquiring over the years." The collection includes plenty of Tom Ford, and one of her go-to outfits is a silk wool cigarette pant tuxedo from 1998. "I have been dying to wear it with a vintage gold lamé turban this season," she says.
Kauffman also dons jewel tones in the form of a Tom Ford for YSL emerald green silk pagoda-shouldered jacket. "I keep it under lock and key the rest of the year, but Christmas provides the perfect backdrop for it," she says. For the New Year's Eve party she'll be hosting, Kauffman plans to wear a 1940s black silk crepe gown with the gold turban and giant reclaimed bronze cuffs from her line that are cast to look like crocodile. She will continue the look with a smoky eye courtesy of Chanel's new dark anthracite cream eye shadow. "It used to be about the lip, but for me," she says, "the holidays are all about a dramatic eye."
George Kotsiopoulos: "It's easy for women to dress in the holiday spirit with jewel tones and lots of sparkle, but for men it's more of a subtle nuance," says the celebrity stylist and co-host of E! channel's "Fashion Police." As soon as the holidays roll around, Kotsiopoulos brings out his velvet blazers, particularly in red. "Red is such a bold color that most men — myself included — aren't wearing it during the year, so why not take advantage of the holiday season and wear it then? A velvet blazer can be worn with jeans and a sweater for casual parties," he says. "Add a necktie if it's cocktail attire, or for something more formal, simply steal the pants from your tuxedo for an alternative black tie ensemble."
Katie Nehra: The designer-actress infuses her holiday look with a rocker vibe by wearing metallic purple leather pants from her line Simone. Her other go-to items for a festive feeling include silver eyeliner for a pop of sparkle on the face and a Chanel penguin sweater for a stylish and hearty layer.
Monique Lhuillier: As a designer of bridal and special-occasion wear, Lhuillier knows something about putting together a standout look. "Since the holidays are overflowing with festivity and glamour, I love to wear red during this time of year," she says. "There is also a great tuxedo in my collection that is perfect with a silk blouse, which is great if I feel like wearing pants. Either way, it's all about enjoying the season by dressing up and celebrating."
Andy Lecompte: Madonna's hair stylist and the owner of the Andy Lecompte salon in West Hollywood breaks out the accessories to get into the holiday spirit. His favorites include a gray velvet bow tie and a shiny purple necktie, both from Lanvin, and sparkly purple socks from Comme des Garçons.
Anita Ko: During the holidays, jewelry designer Anita Ko looks forward to bringing out her emerald jewelry, some of it family heirlooms she's had reset with diamonds. "I have an emerald and diamond cross pendant that I wear to the family Christmas dinner each year," she says. "The color and brilliance of the stones always gets me into the holiday spirit!"
Kate Somerville: Skin-care specialist and facialist to the stars Kate Somerville is forgoing the bling this season and playing up an understated look of flowing tops, leggings and tights with a great pair of boots. She'll add a glowing tan (using her Somerville 360 Tanning Towelettes) and a bright, bold red lip. Her holiday favorite is Mally Ultimate Performance lipstick in crimson.
Yael Aflalo: The designer and owner of the Reformation boutique on 3rd Street started wearing a dramatic red cloak (from a collaboration between the Reformation and cloak designer Lindsey Thornburg) the minute the weather cooled. "The red cloak was the perfect way to brighten up my somber black outfit in a fresh way," she says.
Lyndsey Butler: The designer of the Veda clothing collection adores traditional holiday fabrics such as velvet, lurex, lace and beaded silks year-round, so for the holiday season she goes the nonflashy route and sticks to monochromatic dressing.
"I do one shade only, head to toe," Butler says. "My personal favorites are navy or cranberry. I love the look of matching my tights to my shoes." Her clothes may be relatively tame, but Butler manages to punch things up with most of her blond hair freshly dyed a cool blue.
John Eshaya: The JET by John Eshaya designer pulls out his Tom Ford black velvet bow tie each holiday season, wearing it with an array of items including jeans and a denim or plaid shirt, a tuxedo or with a cardigan. "I wear it with pretty much anything and everything," he says.
Emily Current and Merrit Elliott: The design duo and celebrity stylists go for bright and sparkly attire with a charming vintage feel. Current favors Miu Miu glitter heels and a 1920s rhinestone headband she picked up at the Santa Monica Vintage Expo. She punctuates the look with a bright red or hot pink matte lipstick.
Elliott also loves wearing a Miu Miu shoe around the holidays, but prefers a cherry red color. She amps up her beauty look with MAC Cosmetics' Dazzlesphere Berry Ornament Mini Eye Kit for the festive colors and sparkle it gives her eyes and cheeks. Matte gold nail polish gives her an understated way to wear the metallic shade.
Irene Neuwirth: The Venice-based jewelry designer just launched a diamond collection at Barneys New York this month, so she has no shortage of sparkly options. Her choice for holiday dressing is a pair of earrings with one-of-a-kind opals surrounded by diamonds. The other thing Neuwirth will be wearing to holiday parties is a statement-making pair of red YSL Trib Too high heels. "There's something about that pop of color which just makes all the difference," she says.
Kevan Hall: Generally dressed in a sharp blazer and jeans, the women's wear designer puts the focus on footwear to get in the spirit, switching out his usual boots for a pair of black velvet Tod's driving shoes.