A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday Season in Style

By Damion Matthews

’Tis the season to add sparkle to your party-hopping wardrobe — and, well, be a little extra. This season, Damion Matthews encourages bold color, haute Hygge, flapper glamour and December decadence.

“The sooner every party breaks up,” remarked a character in Jane Austen’s Emma, “the better.” Surely that couldn’t be said of this month’s festivities — grand, gallant affairs like dinner on the opera stage, “An Elegant Evening” at the Legion of Honor and opening night of the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, in addition to the many luncheons and cocktail parties filling the holiday calendar. Then there’s New Year’s Eve, the most spectacular night of all. If reading this makes you anxious about what to wear, don’t be. This is the time to have fun dressing up! Be playful with your style, dress with a bit of pomp, and you’ll never want the party to end. Here’s how others have done holiday dressing, from the high-fashion runway to San Francisco’s style setters well known to readers of the Gazette.

Gucci, Resort 2020.

Colors of the Season

Mistletoe green, holly berry red and wintry white — colors that not only symbolize the season but also make a bold fashion statement.

Dede Wilsey celebrate Cartier at the Legion of Honor, December 2009.

Dazzle With Diamonds

Where else to display one’s well-earned trinkets than a sparkling holiday gala? To arrive in a feast of finery, with gems flashing, is a sign of one’s joie de vivre, and it’s contagious — fine jewelry brightens the entire mood of the room.

Katie and Todd Traina at “An Elegant Evening,” December 2012.

Cozy Elegance

A romantic mélange of velvet and lace in sensual jewel tones. Scrumptious cashmere knits and woolly tartans. They’re the fashion equivalent of a cozy candlelit dinner, or Cabernet by fireside, and irresistibly right for the holidays.

Marchesa, Resort 2020. Courtesy of Marchesa.

Fashionably Overdressed

Oscar Wilde believed the young ladies of James Tissot’s paintings — subject of the Legion of Honor’s stunning new exhibit — were “too fashionably overdressed to interest the artistic eye.” Nonsense. One can never be too fashionable or too overdressed at this time of year.

Jack Calhoun and Trent Norris, December 2018.

Gallant Gent

For men, now is the time to show a certain gallantry in dress, or at least make an effort. Groomed to perfection, wearing a velvet jacket, with cuffed pants and polished shoes, you’ll project a debonair assurance that will make you wonder why you’d ever wear a hoodie and jeans again.

Anna Mary Scott’s designs for Downton Abbey, set in 1927.

The Roaring `20s

Look, it’s a party, not a board meeting, so welcome the new year — and the new decade of the 2020s — by channeling the frantic gaiety of the 1920s.That staggering accessory you’ve been dying to take out of the closet, or the recherché runway piece you’ve been too timid to wear? Wear them! The stylish set expects nothing less than your best.

Chanel Resort 2020.

Tinsel, Pearls and Gold

Reflect the glories of the season with tinsel’s silver glow, the incandescence of pearls, or the gleam ofgold. Even better when you combine them!

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