Outfit Tutorial: How to Recycle Your Holiday Clothes and Wear Them Post-Cheer

Do you ever feel like your December wardrobe is a metaphor for Jason Alexander’s life? He played George Costanza’s character on Seinfeld and effectively went on—while Julia Louise Dreyfus became VEEP, and Michael Richards became problematic and Jerry Seinfeld drank coffee—to remain the neb in the glasses. He was “typecast,” I learned sometime several years ago when I told someone, as if by phenomenal, independent thought that “I could never see George past Costanza.” And now I tell you that for a long time, I could never see sequins past Christmas. Sequins or velvet or plaid or this one bedazzled headband.

But to typecast my clothes runs counter to the newfangled agenda I know a lot of us are trying to push wherein we actually wear the clothes we own. So shocking, right? Shocking!

Anyway, in the spirit of pushing, I took apart a classic holiday look featuring a tartan blazer, velvet shorts, a shiny headband, and sequin blouse, then styled each of the garments to eradicate the doldrums of January.

Here’s how that went.

Tartan blazer with velvet lapels by Racil

I wore this to a holiday dinner at Il Buco in Noho in Manhattan on December 13th of last year with a silver lamé crew neck blouse, cropped black wool trousers and white patent leather booties. The year before I wore it with “fancy leggings” (e.g. the ones with zippers down the front) and a pair of gold sandals. I’ve had the blazer for three years, but have never worn it outside the parameters of holiday party season. I recycled it with:

A striped button-down shirt with a frilly collar, black leggings, tube socks and a pair of sneakers. The logic is that the most obvious solution would have been a pair of jeans, but I have a curious aversion towards blazers and jeans–the combination is too predictable or something, so instead I thought to myself: what is the most likely way I’d take a relic of holiday party dressing and turn it on its head? I went into errand-runner mode, resigning myself to an old graphic t-shirt and leggings but that was also kind of obvious, so I exchanged the t-shirt for stripes on thick poplin et voila: what to wear to work on a Friday if your boss is OOO or you simply work at Man Repeller.

Velvet shorts by Alice & Olivia

I wore these to a party held at someone’s home over metallic tights that my husband is never slow to tell me maintain a shelf life of exactly two nights a year between December 10th and 18th, and paired that with a black taffeta sleeveless, turtleneck bubble-hem top. I don’t have a visual, but imagine if I cut three holes into a black garbage bag made from taffeta for my head and my arms then tucked the bag trim into itself to create a bubble effect at the hem. I recycled it with:

Ye olde grey henley, a cardigan, and chunky sole brogues. Call it a marriage between the doldrums: pajamas (the henley) and the grandpa cardigan, and cheer: a classic rich fabric plus some jewelry-2-boot.

A shiny headband by Zara

I almost wore this with a mid-length red suspender dress styled over a white poplin button-down shirt but honestly took it off before I left home in the spirit of that motto about taking one thing off before you leave the house, which I had previously never, not once, stood behind. I recycled it with:

Two layers of camel knits, some wool khaki pants and a pair of tiara-wearing sneakers. I’ve worn this outfit before, once with black kitten heel boots, once with white patent leather boots. I’ve never worn the whole shebang with sneakers, but do regularly pair blouses and collarless jackets with these pants and then add sneakers. In creating a casual sandwich — that is, pairing the pants with the sweater and sneakers, I set out to make room for a puffy headband to join the conga line.

The sequined top by Altuzarra

Welcome to the most prototypical holiday party feature: a bevy of sequins to cover your chest. I wore with a turtleneck underneath it, the velvet shorts and tartan blazer, both pictured above and, if you can believe it, the very same headband we just spoke about. On my legs were sheer tights. My shoes were black satin sandals covered in rhinestones. And this is what I wore to dinner at a fast-casual restaurant in Nolita on Monday, December 16th, 2019. I recycled it with:

Not quite straight, not quite wide-leg baggy jeans, a pair of beige suede round-toe boots (I describe them as a cross between the classic Chelsea boot and a work boot; they’re not as soft as an English Chelsea boot, but definitely not as rugged as a work boot either), and a chunky gray knit worn like a sash over my naked upper body. The logic? Create a dichotomy! Look like you might be going to do manual labor on the one hand, impersonate Donna Summer on the other. Add a sweater as a sash to further confuse and net out exactly where January wants you to be: definitely not typecast, but kind of in purgatory.

The end. What do U think? Will ye try it? How many more times can I speak in slices of old English before you call thy out? And finally: here’s another outfit tutorial, in case you care.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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