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What Do You Wear To A Family Christmas?

Iona asked, in these comments, what do people wear for family Christmas? I believe in to each their own at home. All about the ugly sweaters? Have at it. Fair isles and kilts? Good look, of type.

But that’s not what you’d see at Carnochan Christmas. We’re neither casual casual in jeans, nor fancy fancy in heels and jackets. It’s pretty much nice pants or comfortable long dress. Plus flat shoes, of course.

We also tend toward the usual neutrals and muted colors. The house is full of red, green, sparkles. We do not need to serve as extra Christmas trees. One year I did get myself up in a short-sleeved chartreuse cotton sweater, cableknit  interspersed with clear sequins. Scratched my tender inner arm, however, and Christmas isn’t Christmas if you’re itchy. Never mind.

This year I’ll probably wear the black silk pants of Thanksgiving again, maybe with gray and white striped t-shirt and patent flats. My sister won’t be at my house this year, but, I wouldn’t be surprised if she wore something gray too. I’ll generally add a pair of dangling earrings, often with color, she’ll opt for more subtle jewelry, with more evident marks of the maker’s hand.  The outfits below would be as casual as we’re apt to get for dinner. Entire mornings, of course, are spent in pajamas as we open stocking presents.

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We have dressed up more, other years. An ankle-length deep brown silk velvet shift still hangs in my closet, waiting for another formal holiday. My mother, just a couple of years ago, wore a fawn brown jersey caftan with strands of turquoise beads, native American-made earrings, and Ferragamo flats. I know. She’s very good at this.

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Family Christmases cry out for suede kitty slippers, don’t you think? “Ha!” my mother would have laughed, “I like those!”

Have A Very, Very Merry Christmas In Comfortable Shoes (Here Are Some Similar Goods.) All The Best To You And Yours!

Dresses, Pants & Tops (The Talbots silk pants do come in black, I promise, ShopStyle just doesn’t show that picture. Never mind, burgundy can count as a neutral!)

It’s Really About The Shoes & Jewelry

Have a wonderful holiday, if you’re celebrating, may your days be merry and bright!



Note: The Hawaiian earrings in the collage are from Na Hoku, in, um, Hawaii. The native American earrings come from this site in Arizona, they say they buy directly from the artisans. Affiliate links in the widgets may generate commissions.


49 Responses

  1. Our family Christmas will be busy, fun & scattered, so a red hoodie cable knit sweater dress and leggings. It has to go for an early morning walk on the Cape, present opening with the folks, a drive home, present opening with the offspring, dinner at our house and then taking dinner guests to my sister’s for dessert!

  2. Our Christmas includes little kids and playing on the floor with Legos. I’ll probably wear jeans, a nice sweater (not ugly) and short boots.

    1. @AK, I actually recall a friend stepping on a Lincoln Log on Christmas morn and having to spend a serious length of time in a cast! Oh, the hazards of Christmas!

  3. Question, Lisa: How do you wear flats, with sheer socks, without? socks keep getting “scrunched”, bear is too cold…?? Happy Holiday to you!

  4. Merry Christmas!

    It’s just the three of us and the dog for Christmas this year. Dress is casual but I insist on my tradition of using the silver and good china. Christmas morning’s hot cocoa tastes so much better in a beautiful cup!

    You are right on trend with the Rose Quartz Serenity color of the year, the Lana and Melissa Joy earrings! Beautiful.

    Have a lovely holiday!

  5. Cords and cashmere for brunches with the family. I used to make more of an effort, but since the nieces and nephews are still in sweats and t-shirts, I don’t bother any more. I have lots of fine-wale cords in fun colours (red, mustard, fawn, forest) and tons of cashmere turtlenecks, so i can mix and match. I throw on a silk or cashmere scarf, maybe a down or fleece vest (we keep our houses on the cool side). Add some flats and I am good to go.

  6. For Christmas Day if I’m cooking… slim cords or my black leggings. Flats, bare feet, coz I’m not going out. And a nice, light, loose (a must!) sweater that looks good under my apron! But before the guests arrive… it’s jammies all the way!
    Have a good holiday, Lisa.

  7. They are forecasting a record muggy 80 degrees in SC. I am thinking my lightest weight dark denim trousers (because two Weimaraners and a big beagle-y mix), my sheer, pointelle pewter-silver Gap cardigan and a tank of some sort underneath. Flats always, plus the parental backyard is sort of a sandpit and I will probably get dog toy retrieval duty.

  8. Oh I haven’t had a “what are you wearing” conversation in quite a while. I will be wearing khaki shorts (which will actually be appropriate with our bastardized El Niño weather) a red Fair Isle sweater with a white button down and will remain positively barefoot the entire time. Merry Christmas!

  9. Christmas morning opening presents…always in pajamas, with large mugs of steaming coffee while the breakfast strata bakes in the oven, smelling oh so good! Christmas Day when spent at the relatives is in black Eileen Fisher pants (All the better to eat in!) and a chic, simple sweater and NO shoes, EVER! At home, it’s probably black jogger pants and a sweater that someone gifted me that morning…NO shoes! Jewelry would be optional, but mostly of the artisan variety. (Your mother’s outfit sounds perfect!)

    1. @Mamavalveeta03, My VERY pregnant eldest daughter (who lives in Chicago with her husband and my 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter and is due Dec 26th!) just texted me and asked me to send her the recipe. Apparently, it’s not Christmas without Strata!

  10. I’ll probably wear skinny ponte knit pants and a sparkly top…flats and my apron which I will take off just before dinner. I am cooking and hosting so I do not dress up as much as if I were a guest.
    Love the sounds of your Mom’s outfit!
    Happy Holidays Lisa!

  11. All I can say is my table is always way more dressed up and colorful than me.
    I’ll undoubtedly be wearing gray though as well.

  12. Christmas Eve (early Children’s church service at our local hippie methodist church, then dinner at my aunt & uncle’s house) – Green plaid tunic blouse, skinny black high waisted jeans, motorcycle boots. Christmas Day is ultra, ultra casual in my family – army green joggers, black thin sweater.

  13. Believe it or not, Na Hoku is here in Virginia, too, at Tysons Corner Center in McLean. Don’t know why but it has been here for several years.

    1. @Jane, That is interesting! I guess, now that you mention it, I did know they had some branches in the continental USA. And I have no idea how they choose their locations.

  14. It will be nice casual here at home but when we get up to Boston and have our annual Christmas afternoon tea at the Taj (formerly the Ritz Carlton), I will be wearing my Bettye Muller green plaid sling backs with chunky low heel and a teal green velvet jacket. Have a very relaxed but happy Christmas!

  15. In upstate New York, probably cords and a cashmere sweater, in Knoxville, something much like you show, slim pants, a top or sweater, ballet flats. Since I am in Florida where it will be in the 80s, and the kids already think I am overly dressy most of the time, it will be shorts. For me that will mean tailored black slim shorts, a linen tank, and silver and black patent Mephisto Helens. With pearls. I can’t seem to help myself.

  16. Sounds great for me!
    Not decided yet myself. We are going out for lunch on Christmas Eve and it is unusually hot for this time of year,so it might be silk taupe skirt,black EB cashemere turtleneck,black Tod’s patent ankle boots,gold/ diamond necklace.
    I am cooking dinner (monkfish brodetto)-I always cook in something like ponte knit pants or leggings and sweater, and change before guests arrive,something simple ,as a hostess (as Hostess said:-))
    Going to church on Christmas morning. Dinner at my parents,relaxed ( without shoes!)
    Boxing day is at my friends,still no idea,maybe black velvet MM trousers with lace top. No high heels!
    Merry Christmas!
    Be happy and have fun!

  17. It is supposed to be really warm in Dallas on Christmas Day. I’ll be cooking—so I will probably wear some nice knit (zip up) black pants with a short sleeved ribbed turtleneck sweater. We’re going to have our more formal meal Christmas Eve and then brunch a a casual chili with cornbread meal on Christmas Day.

    1. @Susan D., I love short sleeved turtlenecks, especially with a rib to them. Some day I’m going to have to try some of your cornbread recipes.

  18. We will actually have a cold, wet Christmas Eve and Day in SoCal this year – low of 37 even!
    Pajamas all morning, sip coffee and read the newspaper, maybe watch a Hallmark Christmas movie until kids arise around noon most likely. After present opening, will wear wool slacks with a tunic sweater top.
    I wish you a very Merry Christmas celebration, Lisa!

  19. Growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were fairly formal. Nice dress for the women, suit or jacket and tie for the men. After my parents died, I tried to keep up the tradition, but was overwhelmingly outvoted by the rest of the family. This year, I will be at a friend’s house, probably wearing a sweater, ivory slacks and flats. Unless it really is 70 degrees and then I would have to re-think the sweater.

    Opening presents on Christmas morning, we all had cozy robes.

    1. @DocP, Ah, I don’t think it was ever jacket and tie for the men, my father hates ties;), but we try to keep at least the sense of making an effort. Love the idea of winter white (ivory)!

    2. My father wore a tie to work every day, so not much different than his usual daily outfit. We got dressed this formally for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and family birthdays, especially if the birthdays were at an old New England inn. I do miss the sense of occasion.

  20. We do our celebrating on Christmas eve. I just love your choice of outfits for the holiday. I prefer simple but better than everyday for my look although when I was young it was more formal. I do, however, dress up my little girl and she is all too happy to do it. Christmas day is spent in PJs or the like.
    Have a lovely Christmas!

  21. LOVE the FERRAGAMO………….LOVE THEM!I once drove in front of their house in FIESOLE and a PEACOCK flew right over me so LOW I thought it was going to land on my car!
    MERRRY CHRISTMAS!I awaken today to the thought……..WHAT AM I WEARING TOMORROW NIGHT!??

  22. Either red plaid pants or gold satin full skirt, just short of knee length (with pockets! Squee!!) with a black T-neck and black tights. Probably my Marc Jacobs mouse shoes ’cause the kids will like. Large chocolate-gold beads ’cause they mesmerise my grandson. And by ten minutes after I put it on, certainly smears and spots from this grandbaby hand or that. . .
    Merry Merry Christmas to you and yours, Lisa. We all know you’ll be elegantly garbed no matter how casual. xoxo

  23. Oooh! Thanks Lisa!
    It will just be my husband and I this year so very casual and cosy at home. Sweater dress and leggings for me. LL Bean slippers. Pink frilly apron from Anthropologie for the kitchen time… if we were with family it wouldn’t change much really; switch the slippers for boots, add some jewellery. Merry Christmas!

  24. Whatever it is I’m wearing this Christmas day, it must be something with an expandable waistband to accommodate the traditional Christmas feasting that accompanies the day’s festivities.

    Merry Christmas to you Lisa!

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