Sweatering It Out: Sweaters
Rug Rats: Babies
Drama Teens: Boys & Girls
Mommie Dearest: Women
Badass Dads: Men
Friends, Lovers & Significant Sinners
Seasoned Seniors: Grandparents
Last Resort: Resortwear
Finding the perfect present for a stylish woman can be one hellish task. She may know exactly what she wants (and expect you do, too), but the truth is, she's always a mind-boggling mess of contradictions. How do you cater to her great expectations? Assemble a careful selection of separates and accessories that are every bit as classic as they are of-the-moment. Dramatic, yet demure. Tough, yet romantic. Whimsical, yet practical, too. You see how it works?
There are two ways she can stir up drama this festive season: One, make a drunken play for her cute boss during the holiday office party; or two, snatch up Mint's asymmetrical black skirt ($308, Poker Face, 128 SW 3rd Ave., 294-0445). Smarties will go with option No. 2--not only will she be able to face her co-workers during the New Year, but she'll also make out with a versatile wardrobe wonder that works harder than she does. Cut on the diagonal, with slashes and ruffles and more movement than an elf on a sugar high, Mint's tropical wool skirt travels from day to night effortlessly, all the while draping around her calves like a dream. Perhaps her boss will be making the pass at her instead.
Is she feeling a little devilish this season? Wants to open her gifts early, binge on fudge and sit on Santa's lap even though she's pushing 30? Then she'd better dress for the occasion in a sleigh-stopping red Diane Medak dress ($80, Mimi & Lena, 823 NW 23rd Ave., 224-7736). Cut from a silky rayon/jersey fabric, the sleeveless faux-wrap style falls below the knee but still hits below the belt (if you know what we mean). This contemporary Californian designer, known for her figure-flattering pieces, does women a special favor by adding sexy side-shirring at the waist to cleverly disguise any tummy bulge. So go ahead and let her binge, the little vixen.
Lace Is More
The most eye-catching woman at any holiday party is not the sequined slut who spends all night desperately posing beneath the mistletoe. No, it's the mysterious beauty in the ladylike, form-fitting black lace top. This season the winning version is by Anna Sui ($120, Odessa, 718 NW 11th Ave., 223-1998). Cut from stretch lace fabric and lined with delicate, pale lilac, the Victorian-collar top manages to be simultaneously demure and flirty. With just a few romantic ruffles and enough stretch to dance all night, the top is sophisticated but sexy as hell (just like that bad girl who gets all the attention).
You may hardly need an excuse to feel her up, but no one's going to question it if she's wearing For Joseph's super-soft suede coat ($375, Girlfriends, 904 NW 23rd Ave., 294-0488). Cut straight and sleek, in the deepest shade of red, this six-button beauty falls below the knee and nips in slightly at the waist for shape. Supple texture makes it something special to amp up her little black cocktail dress, while the classic cut is simple enough to wear every day. And she will wear it every day, because no one else will be able to keep his or her hands off her, either.
Show her she's still Jenny from the block with New York milliner Jacqueline Lamont's leather Otis cap ($196, Halo Shoes, 1425 NE Broadway, 331-0366). Part rebel, part pop star, this urban favorite lends street cred while warming her head. Crafted from the softest leather and lined with Lamont's trademark printed silk, the menswear-inspired classic is at once a sophisticated luxury item and funky hipster hat. She can wear it low and slightly askew to achieve the same downtown devil-may-care look that Lauryn Hill and Cindy Crawford sport when they model their own Lamont hats.
Ho, Ho, Hosiery
Pantyhose. A basic necessity--and a basic pain in the ass. Tight, itchy, uncomfortable and prone to snagging--it's almost cruel to suggest you palm them off as a gift. Unless, of course, you're giving the costly international hosiery of choice, Wolford's legwear ($38-$48, Jane's Vanity, 521 SW Broadway, 241-3860). The world-renowned Austrian hosiery gods manage to produce fun, sexy, comfy and highly durable stockings that last long enough to justify the steep price, which many women wouldn't spend on themselves. This year, match her back-in-black wardrobe with Wolford's oversized fishnet, "The Eighties," or racy "Las Vegas," with a tuxedo stripe down the side.
Back when she was too cool for school, her favorite boots were embellished with silver skull buckles and clunky soles for navigating slippery sidewalks. Sexy was not an issue. But now? Now it takes a two- or three-inch heel and a sharp toe to achieve the same satisfied strut, made easy with Materia Prima's high-heeled bootie ($238, Zelda's Shoe Bar, 633 NW 23rd Ave., 226-0363). With a single silver grommet detail, Goffredo Fantini's leather three-quarter-length boot is just as tough as the ones she favored while smoking clove cigarettes downtown, but with decidedly more grown-up sophistication. Even better, non-skid rubber soles give these thin heels the same practicality rating as those clunky old castoffs.