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ALL DECKED OUT: Holiday fashions get fancy and bring sheer joy

Fashion is never so glamorous as during the holidays. “Don we now our gay apparel,” goes the lyric to the famous song. There’s just something about this time of year that makes women want to dress up.

“It’s the end of the year; it’s time to let loose,” said designer Karen Hipwell of Marshfield, the owner of Karen Warren, Ltd. “We want to look good, we want to feel good about ourselves and forget the year’s stresses.”

Some of the holiday fashions at Hipwell’s new boutique in Hanover include silk metallic organza skirts, in festive colors like silver, champagne, red and emerald green. “We pair the skirt with a black silk or velvet top that’s perfect for the holiday,” she said. She advised wearing dressy black shoes and choosing jewelry carefully. “The more covering the top, the daintier the jewelry, and vice-versa,” she said.

Customers search the racks at Karen Warren boutique in Hanover. photo by Gary Higgins

Carolyn Regan of Canton likes the brilliance of fine jewelry with simple, elegant evening wear. For a white-tie event at the Dedham Country Club, she accented a floor-length, sleeveless black dress with sapphire-and-diamond earrings and a matching bracelet. But she also finds ways to indulge her love for creative fashion around the holidays. “I like fun, interesting things,” Regan, 42, said. For a less formal event, she wears a simple skirt with a striking turtleneck. “The (sweater’s) front is black fur, with a sheer back and sleeves,” she said. Asked where she buys her stylish attire, she chuckled. “All my shopping I pretty much do in New York.”

Camille Austin finds her fashion inspiration closer to home. The Quincy resident likes shopping for holiday clothes at Chico’s at South Shore Plaza in Braintree, and Ann Taylor Loft in the Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham. “I like to get festive,” said Austin, who is the assistant to Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. “I always try to get something velvet, and pair it with something shimmery and glittery.”

One of Austin’s finds for a Christmas party this year was a pair of black satiny pants. She wore them with a long camisole accented with glitter, and a cropped sweater that showed off the camisole’s sparkly hemline. And while Austin favors black for many events, New Year’s Eve is a different story. “I always wear white or off-white,” she said. “It’s a new time, clean, everything brand-new. I like that.”

For those who don’t go to many holiday parties, other events offer abundant reasons to get dressed. Mary Beth Callahan, a preschool teacher from Milton, recently attended a winter solstice concert in New Bedford. Underneath her “beautiful black coat” – a puffy down jacket by Cole Hahn – she wore a black knee-length swing skirt with a matte red jersey top, both Isaac Mizrahi designs from Target. But the standouts of her ensemble were a Chanel-style choker of cream and silver beads, and red Christmas plaid tights. “I always try to find something that’s very different, and comfortable,” Callahan said. “I probably wouldn’t have picked the typical holiday colors, but I liked the tights.”

The splurge of her outfit was a pair of Givenchy boots from the couture section at Zappos.com. She described them as “high-fashion engineer boots,” with black leather rising almost to the knee, a square heel and toe, and an ankle strap. The fashionista’s footwear was a nod to New England’s December weather. “I would have worn black shoes, but it was snowing,” Callahan said. “I had to get a little practical in the boots.”

Customers search the racks at Karen Warren boutique in Hanover. GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger Warren Hipwell holds a festive dress. Designer Karen Hipwell says holiday fashions allow us to “forget the year’s stresses.” Satin and silk provide holiday sparkle.

By Julie Fay

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