Our Co-founder and Publisher, the ever-fly Barbara Sullivan, shares that December’s holiday season is the only time of year she rocks a bright red mani. “It looks festive, and every year I search out the reddest, purest red for that gala touch,” she says. Pear Nova Red
Even if red isn’t your jam, check out Elle’s list of 13 Black Owned Nail Polish Brands. We love the idea of kicking up our heels and kicking it up a notch as we celebrate Kwanza, Christmas, Epiphany, Hanukkah, the closing note of the old, and the ringing in of the new.
FIRST – CHERISH THY BELOVED SELF
How to dress for the holidays? It’s entirely up to you. We do know a few soft souls who are just plain worn out as the curtain comes down on 2023: one is recovering from chemo, one who planned to retire has spent the last 12 months slaying a work schedule that would annihilate a woman half her age. And another just had to bury her grandbaby, age 16. So, these friends have already told us that they will be spending December resting, praying, taking long soaks in the tub, remembering to breathe, and being exceptionally gentle with themselves in this un-gentle world. If there is someone like this in your life, and we bet there is, offer nurturing and quiet support. The jingle-jangle of Christmas can feel harsh when you’re grieving, or just flat-out exhausted. Gift her something cashmere. Drop off a warm homemade casserole. Check-in faithfully, but let her be quiet for a while. Maybe by Mardis Gras, she’ll be feeling a little more sociable. Or maybe not.
If you’re feeling frisky, we think the holiday season is a great time to break away from your same-old same-old. Many of us these days follow the lead of our grandbabies in terms of fashion, and go “minimalist.” This is a sweet, clean, almost innocent look, and of course it’s low-maintenance: simple protective hairstyle, short, groomed nails, diligent skincare instead of piling on the makeup, and little to no jewelry: simple, small post earrings, a sleek watch, maybe a slender, lightweight ring or bangle.
SHOW YOUR GLOW
It can be a bit monotonous, TBH. But here’s one important takeaway: if you’ve been caring for your skin all year, the holidays are the time to really get your glow on. One approach is very “extra,” and we’ll go there in a minute. But let’s also say this: glowing skin and a great smile sometimes are the most captivating adornments.
If you prefer a quiet luxury approach, consider sweeping your hair up and exposing the nape of your neck. A sleek headwrap always does the trick.
A cool alternative to the joyful noise of traditional African prints is…you guessed it…basic black. Add a temporary tattoo at the back of your neck—maybe a glittering snowflake—and slay with elegant understatement. The nape is an area of our skin that always looks smooth and velvety, so show yours off with even a simple clip and a “messy bun” updo, or some pearl-studded bobby pins.
Maya Angelou famously wrote “Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.” Separate from the headwrap option, rocking your crown – adorning your head – always feels like a celebration. Beyonce herself is fond of jeweled diadems and headpieces that connect with ancient dynasties and a Black woman’s innate sense of royalty.
But no need for anything too elaborate, since the holidays are all about enjoying yourself. There is literally nothing in your closet as versatile as a turban, especially if you’re between hair appointments. Wrapping the head is an art form mastered by our ancestors, but to make it easy on yourself, snap up a turban that’s already wrapped. Choose a fabric with a bit of stretch, for a sleek look. Adorn the center with a favorite brooch if you’re craving some super sparkle.
And: temporary hair color! These are easy-to-use sprays, chalks, and powders that shampoo out. Note that if your hair is white or blonde, staining ingredients in “temporary” dyes may leave a color residue on your light tresses. It’s a freeing, fun, wild feeling to dash out into the sparkling snowfall or glittering winter sky with purple, blue, green, or hot pink locs!
Cherish your feet. As we age, the pad of squishy fat on the soles of our feet thins out. Just another of life’s ironies. While you may stress about your middle getting thicker, you’re losing the natural insulation that cushions the bones of your feet and absorbs the shock and impact of walking, running, jumping!
Sexy stilettos may call when you’re in the holiday spirit. But if not, you can still sparkle plenty! Let’s say that you love wearing Uggs (we do, too). Or maybe another comfortable, low-heeled boot. Grab a sparkly necklace—maybe hologramic aurora borealis beads – and fasten it over your boot for painless but sexy shimmer. And, you can even purchase special boot “necklaces” specifically made to add something extra to shoes and boots. Someone we know wears a pink, jeweled dog-collar around her winter boot!
One of our favorite holiday practices is a girlfriend party before the holidays for a “Bling Swap.” Plan a relaxed afternoon or evening gathering with a small group of your favorite besties where everyone brings a minimum of five holiday attire items to lend. These items might include a fur coat that spends the year tucked away in a closet, hats, fragrance, body glitter, some truly fantastic earrings and other jewelry, a slinky sequined dress that no longer fits you but is perfect for your BFF, a feather boa, maybe some killer heels you can only wear once a year. Serve refreshments and take lots of pictures— maybe even use these photos for a holiday story on social, or a digital scrapbook!
However you choose to greet the holidays and enter the new year, please be gentle with yourself and others. Family gatherings, travel, reviewing the past, and preparing for the new year ahead can all trigger anxiety, so be sure to build in some dedicated periods of solitude, silence, and rest between all of the party-hopping to keep yourself fresh and energized for all of the good times to come!