Holiday parties are a festive way to end the year. However if they are in a corporate setting, it can be daunting. Last month I sat with style and wardrobe consultant Mara Kolesas, founder of Good Fit Style. Mara is not a typical style consultant—she has a past career in academia and on issues of empowerment, equity and inclusion, and she works to bring out your unique style, to make you feel comfortable in your clothes and to help build your self-esteem by creating a “visual representation” of who you are.
During a misty morning in Berkeley, we discussed fashion. At the end of our conversation I came away with her four guidelines: think about your body, research the context of the event, be comfortable and shine by paying attention to the details.
Epifania: In regards to color, how can one be festive if the traditional holiday colors do not look good on them?
Mara Kolesas: That is a great question. Not all colors look good on everyone. If you have a cold skin undertone, the bright red and gold won’t be so flattering to you. You can choose muted versions such as burgundy or copper. You also have to keep in mind that dark colors conceal (and therefore wear them to hide your least flattering features), while light colors enhance (and therefore wear them to highlight your best features). I am not a fan of “theme” dressing, but you can wear red or green without overdoing it. Even if it is Christmas you don’t have to look like a Christmas tree.
E: How do you celebrate your youth but still keep it professional?
MK: Build your outfit around an elegant professional piece (the famous little black dress, for example), and elevate it by adding a statement accessory and curating all details. Shoes are a wonderful way to add some color, interest and fun to your outfit. You can have some sparkle in jewelry, in a clutch, or if personality and context appropriate, a shawl in lurex or sequins. I love them!
E: How do you highlight your features in a classy way?
MK: Well, if you have breasts, you can wear a colorful top, but to keep it professional make sure the neckline is not so low or deep. You can balance that interest with long thin earrings for example. If you like your legs, you can wear a miniskirt going one to two inches above your knee, depending on your height. Always remember to think about your body, and about what looks good on you, because not all fashion is for everyone.
E: What are some details people tend to forget?
MK: After you are dressed, it is crucial to pay attention to the finishing touches to have the ultimate polished and professional look. Your hair, nails, makeup should be neat. I advice to favor subtle make-up, as natural looks better and more professional! If you feel whimsical, choose a fun color for your nails.
E: How do you decide what to wear?
MK: After you think about your body, you have to get the details about the event. Where is the event being held? Is there going to be a formal dinner? If so, you want to make sure your outfit isn’t tight when you sit down and allows you to eat comfortably. Is there going to be dancing? Is it at a bar? Is there a theme? Who’s attending? Your peers, or the executives as well? I usually work through these questions with clients to narrow down and define outfit options to convey the best fitting look. Always remember to feel yourself with what you wear. As Iris Apfel, the style icon, put it, “The greatest fashion faux pas is looking at the mirror and seeing someone else.”
Come Back Next Month for Another Fashion Chat With Mara: Closet Organizing
Mara is a style and wardrobe consultant and the founder of Good Fit Style.Based in Berkeley, CA, she is available for virtual consultations. Mara grew up in Buenos Aires, where she breathed style from an early age. During her career in political science she lived in New York, Florence, Rome, Berlin and Beirut, where she expanded her passion and sense of fashion and style while working on minority empowerment, and diversity and inclusion. With her artistic eye, analytic abilities, multicultural sensibility, and knowledge of fashion, she helps women and men define and express their visual voice with the clothes and accessories that are a good fit for who they are. Mara is also involved in various projects that promote social empowerment and the transformative power of clothes.