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Shop Your Closet for the Holidays

By Cristina Velocci

I’ve been a fashion editor at Time Out New York for the past three and a half years, and when your job involves looking at clothes all day, something funny happens: Shopping for yourself suddenly becomes unappealing. Part of it is the sort of anhedonia I’d imagine an employee at an ice cream shop feels toward frozen treats, but I also can’t rationalize adding yet another pair of colored skinny jeans to my already sagging drawer. Basically, my closet has reached maximum capacity.

Instead of acquiring more and more clothing, I’ve taken to reimagining the pieces I already own, often turning to sources such as Pinterest and StyleUp for outfit inspiration. It’s always a revelation when I discover that the building blocks for a street-style-worthy ensemble were right there in front of me all along, and the exercise has even resuscitated some garments I was sure were headed straight for the donation pile.

The good news is you don’t have to work in fashion to be able to shop your own closet. In today’s consumption-driven culture, chances are your own wardrobe is overflowing with long-forgotten threads that are (quite literally) waiting to be rethought and worn in a different way. And what better time to do so than the holiday season, when your calendar fills up with social engagements as your bank account dwindles from buying gifts. To help you get started, I’ve identified the five essential pieces men and women need to conquer the holiday-party circuit in style—and I’m willing to bet nearly all of them are hanging in your closet right now.


Metallic clutch

Although embellished and bejeweled bags feel like a party unto themselves, a simple streamlined clutch in silver or gold is infinitely more versatile. The shiny finish feels festive enough, yet you’ll still be able to reach for this staple when summer wedding season rolls around.

Silk button-up blouse

Something about a collared shirt with sheen just feels fancy, and while this trusty top can certainly be tucked into a skirt and worn with heels for a night out, it can just as easily be dressed down (and hit every level of formality in between). Try layering it under a sweater, puffer vest or dress, wear it open and unbuttoned as a lightweight jacket, or even tie up the ends for a feminine bow-like finish.

Statement necklace

The great thing about this substantial jewelry piece is that you could throw one on top of a white T-shirt and still look pulled together. It doesn’t need to be blingy, either—any oversize neck piece makes getting dressed foolproof and effortless.

Printed dress

Forget everything you know about the LBD—a patterned frock is the true workhorse of your wardrobe. In addition to being an interesting garment all by itself, you can make it more formal with a blazer, turn it into a skirt by layering on a sweater or tee and transform it into a top by tucking it into a skirt. With some styling magic, the outfit permutations for this one are endless.

"Shop Your Closet for the Holidays" on #Zady #Features #Stories

The Nesika Dress by Portland the Pendleton Collection

Dressy coat

When it’s cold out and you’re running around town from your office shindig to your friend’s ugly sweater party, sometimes your coat is the only thing that people see. Your outerwear choice can also make or break your outfit—think of the overall effect a puffer jacket has on a cocktail dress—so you should consider it an integral part of your ensemble. Instead of reaching for your basic black coat, opt for a more memorable one in a color or pattern to truly stand out.



Pair it with trousers and a button-up to impress your boss at the company soiree, then swap in jeans and a graphic tee to look casually cool around your friends. If you don’t already own one, a suit jacket can easily sub in.

Half-zip sweater

Layering is the trick to creating a complete outfit, and this type of top allows you to add varied dimension depending on what you wear underneath it (a basic tee, a polo shirt, a button-up and tie). Bonus points if it has a Nordic or Fair Isle pattern for added festivity.

Plaid shirt

Beloved through the years by lumberjacks, grunge bands and Williamsburg hipsters alike, this classic garment has major staying power. And for good reason: You can dramatically change your look depending on how you to choose to wear it, whether that’s tucked into khakis with a belt for preppy polish, left unbuttoned over a band tee for casual edge or worn under a sweater with just the collar and cuffs peeking out as patterned accents.

"Shop Your Closet for the Holidays" on #Zady #Features #Stories

Won Hundred Plaid Shirt - a must-own for men.


These textured pants lend richness to your overall look and are more comfortable than khakis or trousers, allowing you to rage all night long. They also embody the cozy feeling of the season.

Leather desert boots

The casual silhouette married with a dressier material make this footwear choice an incredibly adaptable one—especially in brown, whose rich tone tends to match with more than stark black (contrary to popular belief).

As you can see, none of my must-haves are particularly shocking or revolutionary, and that’s sort of the point. All of these pieces have withstood the test of time and will continue to serve as wardrobe foundations for years to come. Challenging yourself to come up with different ways to wear them each time you get dressed will help you avoid falling into a fashion rut and also develop your personal style, so have fun and start experimenting.

Cristina Velocci is the senior associate fashion editor at Time Out New York magazine, where she covers beauty, fashion and home decor. To read more about her work, visit her website.