When Artful Home asked me to showcase a look from their holiday apparel collection, I thought: Hey, count me in!
The Ainslie dress, designed by Lisa Bayne, has everything I love in a holiday dress: it’s bright, bold, and encourages feelings of happiness!
When it arrived in the mail, I pulled it out of the packaging, held it against my body, and looked in the mirror—I felt buoyant. I couldn’t wait to take off my jeans, T-shirt, and cardigan and slip it on over my head. In an instant, I knew that my body and this dress were a match made in heaven.
Confessing my heartache over dresses
There’s something you should know: I secretly pout about not being able to wear dresses. I can’t find a dress that hits my waist where it should. In so many dresses I try, the waist wants to creep closer to my midriff, and after wearing one for ten just an hour, I can’t wait to get home to take it off. That’s not how you want to feel in a holiday dress!
I have this idea that party dresses would look like the ones soap opera stars wear in workday office scenes. (Example: Phyllis in the Young and the Restless.) Maybe you’ve seen it: slinky, backless, leg slit, or with wide, deep plunges in the neckline. I marvel at the dresses, but this body of mine isn’t going to recreate that look anytime soon.
So, boo-hoo me. I’ve got it hard.
(I’m not alone: Other image consultants have their challenges too!)
The Ainslie Dress destroys the notion that I can’t wear dresses
I looked at myself in the Ainslie Dress and realized—I can wear a dress! I can be happy in a dress, especially a holiday dress that has all my favorite things in it: plaid; red; crinkle fabric (oh my gosh, do I ever love crinkle fabric); three-quarter (on me) sleeves, so I can decorate my wrists and others will enjoy the bangle action just like I do; and a pretty neck detail. It has an A-line silhouette, so my waist feels respected just as it is. It’s okay exactly where it is. It’s great when I can wear a dress that feels like it was made for me instead of struggling to get into someone else’s dress.
Waistline Wisdom from Lisa Bayne, CEO for Artful Home
Here’s more waistline wisdom from the Ainslie Dress’s designer, Lisa Bayne. She says, “I believe that clothes have to feel great on our bodies and make us feel like a million bucks. Just because some of us have lost our waistlines does not mean we have lost our sense of style.” Preach!
Lisa also gives women what they demand: pockets! The side on-seam pockets means I can stow a lipstick, handkerchief, or room key and leave a purse behind if I want to. Or I’ll add sparkle by wearing my silver lunch bag.
A dress that celebrates the neck
I love the neck detail on the Ainslie Dress. I love that this lightweight fabric is crisp and has body, so the neck stands up all by itself. While my neck has lost some of its elasticity, this collar makes up for it. Author Nora Eprhon claimed to hate her neck—I don’t feel the same way about mine. I’m okay with it; in fact I quite like how it keeps my head up. But I must admit: I feel like my neck is in great hands with this stand-up, wide-banded collar.
Dressing up the dress
A big part of my personal style is fun elegance. Even when I’m wearing jeans and a sweater, I want to add some sparkle and shine. This dress has a subtle, built-in sheen, and the bold plaid is very playful. I’m adding fishnets (fun) and some low-heeled patent leather Mary Janes by Paul Green (elegant for me). This dress would also be pretty with a fancy flat, but for holiday events, it’s a special treat for me to wear shoes with a little lift.
I kept my jewelry pretty simple. I chose to wear the Dotted Pebble Dangle Earrings by artist Wendy Stauffer. You can also find her work at Artful Home. Then I added a few thin bangles in mixed metals and my gold ring with tiny diamonds in it.
Next year I may bring the Ainslie Dress down a notch and wear it with black leather leggings and booties. But not this year.
Where I’ll wear my holiday Ainslie Dress
I’ve always told my clients that they can wear their special occasion pieces the whole month of December with no apologies or explanations. It’s the holidays! It doesn’t matter if their friends are less dressed than they are—December is the season of light. Let’s celebrate all month long.
I’ll wear this dress to client appointments in December. I’ll wear it to my friend Joan’s annual holiday dinner party at her house. The guests are all women who met in a breast cancer support group in 2004, as well as their partners or a plus-one. It’s a beautiful, festive evening. The ladies finish the evening off with a holiday ornament exchange while the men cheer them on.
I’ll wear this holiday dress when we go to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for the annual holiday concert.
I’ll wear it on Christmas Eve when I cook dinner for the family and we do our holiday readings.
I’ll wear it on December 25 when we go to my cousin’s house for dinner.
A final observation about being in the right clothes
I see this with my clients, that when I find them clothes that feel right to them, right from the start, they relax, and their bodies express ease. Any struggle or grievance they had with their bodies disappears. They relax into themselves.
When we’re relaxed, stress seems to fall away. We’re here in the moment enjoying the splendor of life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel worry-free in your clothes? I think when we feel good in our clothes, we manage all things with more clarity and sharpness. The holiday season can become a stressful blur, but when you’re happy about how you look, problems don’t seem so great. Joy comes into the picture.
The holidays are about peace, love, and acceptance. I want to carry those feelings into the season, and I’ve got a jump start knowing I’m going to be wearing the Ainslie Dress.
Thank you, Artful Home, for taking me on as a brand ambassador, for all you do to support women, and to Lisa Bayne, for understanding that we want to enjoy style at every stage of our lives.
Have you had a minute to think about what you’ll be wearing this holiday season? Toss out some ideas for all of us, okay? Let’s spread some love around!
P.S. Thank you Perham photographer, Kristen McMartin, for taking these great photos! And thanks Lexy Ziemann from 125 Apparel in Perham, MN for paving the way for us to shoot some photos at Karvonen’s Furniture across the street.