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  • Laurie Bergman

Deck Yourself Out: Holiday Accessories for the Season

Woman in lavender sweater, cream mittens and scarf, and decorative reindeer antlers on her head

However you like to accessorize for the holiday season, make it fit your own style!

Everyone I’ve ever known who celebrates the winter holidays has a certain “switch” that’s flipped by a particularly festive trigger. For some people, it’s that first run of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas (Is You)” that signals, “OK, let’s GO, holiday season!” For others, it might be the newest Hallmark movie that turns a one-off catch-up with a cup of cocoa into a marathon watching of favorite classics. And I know people who shop for that just-right Christmas tree to fill with treasured ornaments or flip to that much-beloved holiday cookie recipe the day after Thanksgiving. Everyone has a different door that takes them across the threshold into the festive season, and I love hearing the meaningful stories behind each of my friends’ doors.

Collection of holiday-inspired accessories:  scarves, socks, bracelets, earrings and rings

Some of my favorite holiday accessories collected through the years: scarves, socks, bracelets, earrings and rings.

For me, that trigger is the gathering, spreading out (maybe “inventorying” is the right word here) and happy wearing of holiday accessories: jewelry, scarves, hats, gloves, and socks. I have a nice collection that’s come together steadily over the years; it features some pieces I’ve inherited, some I’ve been gifted, and some I’ve purchased for myself. Some have an overt holiday theme and actually get pulled out of a box where they live 11 months out of the year. But I also consider some accessories I wear throughout the year in a more festive sort of light. I look forward to “walking through the holiday accessory room,” so to speak, each year in early December.

You may have your own tried-and-true favorite holiday accessories, or it may be that you may feel simply overwhelmed by all the options out there for the decking of your own self. Maybe you aren’t really an accessories person most of the year, but you want to make an exception at holiday time. If you’re not sure WHAT you really like, or if you’d like to narrow the myriad of choices down, I’ve grouped holiday accessories into 6 broad style categories.

What is Your Holiday Style?

Here are six archetypes (and websites that typify or provide inspiration for each one). Which one resonates with you?

  • Holiday Classic: festive plaids, lace, timeless red/gold/green. (Think Talbots or JCrew for different takes on this theme.)

  • All Decked Out: all Christmas-themed gear all the time! Familiar Christmas characters fashioned into jewelry, scarves, hats and gloves. (Tipsy Elves is one go-to.)

  • Sunshine-y Southern/Beach: tropical prints, metallic accents, muted shades with a holiday feel. (Palmetto Moon is the inspiration.)

  • Outdoorsy/Mountain Girl: cozy wool hats with pom poms, trapper hats, flannel, buffalo check plaid, shearling, warm boots for hiking. (REI is a favorite source.)

  • Comfort and Joy: cloud-like slippers, snuggly wraps, cute slouchy socks. (Soft Surroundings is a cozy spot.)

Feet wearing white socks with reindeer heads with TV in the background

Nothing feels better -- and looks cuter -- than a pair of comfy holiday-themed socks while relaxing and watching your favorite Christmas movie.

  • Sleek and Elegant: silk, velvet, satin, cashmere, leather, suede, tuxedo dressing, a glowing jewel-box vibe. (Saks Fifth Avenue is fun to browse for these looks.)

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I like to be Holiday Classic a lot of the time, but I’m also definitely All Decked Out in my craziest Christmas sweater and Christmas lightbulb earrings for the office holiday party! And Comfort and Joy sounds good for Christmas morning.…” Often, it’s that mix of different styles for different occasions that makes your own holiday style truly yours. So don’t feel like you need to restrict yourself to just one style!

What Inspires You at Holiday Time?

Deciding on your own holiday accessories style calls for consideration about your current lifestyle and preferences, a trip or two down memory lane, and some thought about the types of events you host or attend. Like many facets of creativity, your inspirations may change over time! Here are some of my sources:

  • Friends and family: My late mother Mary Lu is my inspiration in so many ways, including fashion. She loved clothes and had an eye for styling and quality, but she didn’t take herself too seriously. I remember her in the late 60s accenting a home-sewn red brocade dress with dramatic gold-and-crystal chandelier earrings, her auburn hair wrapped neatly in a top knot and tied with a moss green velvet ribbon. Later, she created a small collection of Christmas pins that she wore on the lapel of a black velvet blazer. (It was the 70s, so the wide lapels could easily hold a few pins.)

Photo 1: My mother's red brocade party dress styled with vintage and newer accessories from my own collection: dangly jeweled earrings (pinned to a long black mohair cape for display purposes), a bauble-filled chain link bracelet (pinned to the mannequin) and an opera-length necklace of large faceted green beads. / Photo 2: Emphasis on red! Here I've accessorized the dress with a long alpaca scarf, a red wool beret, my grandmother's gumball pearl clip on earrings (shown on the beret), and an assortment of jeweled and pearly chains. If I were wearing this look to a night-long party, I'd admit that while I like the *idea* of a necklace pile-on, it'd likely feel heavy by the end of the night, so I personally might take off one or two of the chains before I head out the door. But in a different situation, perhaps I'd pile on even more jewelry! Gauge your mood, your destination and what feels right to you as you're getting dressed. And FaceTime someone you trust if a second opinion might come in handy!

  • Social media accounts: I like looking at the holiday layouts of fashion Instagram accounts like @j.cathell and @meginthelou. I also look to my friend Jo Dellapina (@joshopsatnordstrom).

  • Favorite stores: Several department stores, including Nordstrom, let you scroll through a variety of holiday outfits and drill down further into holiday accessories for a variety of holiday occasions.

  • Holiday movies: Do you have a favorite style-setting holiday movie? I think this L’Officiel list from 2022 is short but on point: 6 Most Stylish Holiday Movies. So many fabulous coats and hats!

  • Style icons: For me, no one evokes a successful combination of many holiday styles like the late Princess Diana. She used winter hats and gloves to great effect. Bustle UK explored her holiday looks in the 2020 article “The Princess Diana Way To Dress For Christmas Day.”

  • Favorite memories: From my childhood, I conjure memories of the dream-inducing store windows at Halls Kansas City, the glamourous friends my mother had over one New Year’s Eve, the white rabbit fur hat that tied under my chin (along with its matching muff) gifted to me by my grandmother, the temptingly photographed toy pages of the Sears Roebuck “Wish Book,” and even the traditional appointment TV shows like A Charlie Brown Christmas (I once had a pair of silver globe ornament earrings just like those adorning Charlie Brown’s tree) and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Take a leisurely trip through your holiday memories and pay attention to the details that make you smile. This works not only for accessories you might wear, but accessories and decorations for your home.

Where’s the Best Place to Find Holiday Accessories?

I’ve found that most places of commerce that I visit give at least a passing nod to holiday accessories. (I have found holiday cat-themed socks at my local grocery store!) But sometimes the best finds are close to (or already in your) home. Below are some of my favorite “best places” to find that special holiday piece:

  • Shop your closet/jewelry box and do a little tweaking: Maybe the classic pearl strand can sport a holiday-themed brooch. Or you might have two holiday scarves you can knot together to make a wrap-and-tie belt for a dress that needs a lift. I have a casual red and white infinity scarf with a St. Louis Cardinals logo that goes holiday for the season with the selective placement of a brooch or two.

  • Friends/family/coworkers: At our annual Christmas gathering, the group of girlfriends that inspired Friendsville Square all sport handmade snowman earrings made by Liz, who loves jewelry so much that she has her own jBloom business! Or perhaps an already-scheduled holiday get together might have room for an accessories swap: each invitee brings a piece that no longer suits and takes a piece someone else is ready to move on.

Photo 1: A favorite red beret and girlfriend Liz’s handmade whimsical pearly snowman earrings! / Photo 2: For a few years in the 90s, I enjoyed drawing from my Swedish heritage and acting as Lucia on Santa Lucia Day December 13, making the traditional lusekatter (saffron buns) and coffee and taking them in to co-workers. The star of the accessories show was the headpiece; a wreath aglow with candles. Red ribbon played a supporting role. After almost catching my hair and a cubicle wall on fire as I strolled around wearing a real candle headpiece the first year, I found the battery-powered wreath I wore in this 1994 photo.

  • Second-hand shops: Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and your favorite local thrift store will have goodies that ladies of yore wore and enjoyed. You may have to do some untangling, but the result of that effort will be worthwhile if you unearth a treasure.

  • Your next Target or Walmart run: Take a pass by the jewelry counter, shoe department, and winter accessories displays as you’re picking up pet food and laundry detergent.

  • Favorite boutiques: Check out the fun shops in your area or in the town you’re visiting for the holidays. I found some fun holiday accessories at Ophelia in Farmington, Missouri when my husband and I drove down for dinner the day after Christmas last year. In 2022’s Six Go-To Places for Go-To Gifts post, I outlined a variety of places I (and a few of my friends) like to shop for holiday gifts. Many of these places will have lovely holiday accessories of all kinds that you can gift yourself!

  • Post-holiday sales: Some of my favorite finds have been 50-percent-off January deals not only at boutiques or department stores, but everywhere from the aforementioned grocery store to my local Ace Hardware. (Yes, you can find flashing Christmas bulb earrings at Ace Hardware if you’re leaning towards being All Decked Out.)

  • Etsy: Honestly, what can you NOT find on Etsy? Here’s what you WILL find when you type in “holiday fashion accessories” in Etsy’s search bar.

I hope you’re inspired to have a little fun with fashion accessories this holiday season, whether you choose your aunt’s wreath-shaped brooch, look at new ways to style something that maybe before didn’t seem quite “you,” or try something new, like a wide-brimmed wool hat in a festive color. I would love to know via the Comments about the holiday accessories that mean the most to you or the places you know you’ll be able to find that just-right holiday touch! Cheers, and merry accessorizing!

Laurie Bergman, guest blogger

Laurie White Bergman is a recently retired public relations professional taking the first exhilarating steps into her “next act” armed with an extensive list of places to visit, activities to explore, and skills to learn or rediscover. She lives with her family in St. Louis County, Missouri. You can connect with her on Twitter: @LaurieBergman

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Dec 07, 2023

Laur, you really should consider stylist or fashion blogger as part of your next act! LOVE the looks, especially the one with your Mom's dress. So nice to read your description about her too. And even though I'm not much into bling for myself, I covet that rainbow bracelet!

Dec 07, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much, kind commenter! <3 Laur :-)

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