Six Dresses, Holiday Edition: Making the Holidays & New Year Extra Special, One Dress at a Time by Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
I launched a series of social media posts called Six Dresses in October 2020 to celebrate my birthday, and to get me out of my yoga pants and back into the dresses in my closet that I used to wear pre-pandemic. I did another Six Dresses series for Thanksgiving, digging deeper and sharing parts of my life I had never revealed before – one dress at a time.
As Christmas approached and I looked to my closet for holiday inspiration, I saw dress after dress like specters, phantoms of my former life. Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, each dress holds a memory. That’s why while decorating for Christmas, my husband and I decided to shoot Six Dresses, Holiday Edition.
Dress One: Sunday, December 20, 2020
“I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight ... I've never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance ... You took my breath away ... I’ll never forget the way you look tonight ... The lady in red.”
I was not that lady. Not because I don’t like the color red, but because in my past, I feared it would have drawn too much attention to me. There was a time when I had to worry about things like the color of the dress I was wearing; if it would draw too much attention.
So why am I now wearing a red dress? First, it’s Christmas week, and that calls for crimson. Second, I am at a place in my life where I can not only wear bold color, but it’s encouraged.
My husband bought this dress by Max Studio for me. At first, I resisted wearing it. It felt too bold, too ... red. I held back, the color just not feeling quite right. But when he asked me to wear it on Valentine’s Day, how could I say no? Red is the color of love, after all. So I put on the red dress. And at that time and place in my life, it was exactly right. My husband took me out for a romantic dinner and, in his mind, he was Chris De Burgh and I was his “Lady in Red.” Not that he saw me in a new light; rather, I was finally in the light, where he believed I should be.
These days, I don’t reserve red just for holidays. I see it as a power color that gives me confidence. Because red also symbolizes courage and passion, I have even worn red dresses to pitch my business in front of hundreds of people.
What are you holding back? Fear can be a deterrent, but it also can be a propellant. Take that fear and flip it. Rather than hold you back, let your fear fuel you forward. Rock the red, my friends, just because you can. And, just to see what happens when you do.
"Not only is red a power color, it is the color of the root or base chakra, which symbolizes your foundation, your tribe, your sense of survival, safety, security. When your foundation is strong, the rest of your energy centers can better be in alignment. You are beautiful!" – Shannon R.
"Red is my favorite color. I always have something red on. I once wore red to a wedding and was told that a guest wearing red is bringing bad luck in the couple. Pshaw! I don’t believe that because red has been my calling card for years. I got married on Valentine’s Day and almost wore a red dress. I wore white with red shoes and carried red roses. My rehearsal dinner dress was red." – Julie D.
Dress Two: Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Who says you can’t garden in a cocktail dress? This has been a really tough year. We’ve suffered dramatic change, disruptive chaos, disease, death, despair. We’ve lost so many and so much. We are disconnected and grieving. There have been some silver linings along the way, and we celebrate those as the highlights they are. But we may never have been more eager to turn the calendar page to a new year as we are right now.
To get through the rest of 2020, we’ve broken out our Christmas nutcrackers. In German tradition, these toy soldiers are symbols of good luck, frightening away evil spirits and serving as protectors. In times like these, our traditions, customs and routines matter more than ever. They help us feel safe, and we need that sense of security as we deal with all that’s going on around us.
So I put on my emerald green cocktail dress by designer Vince Camuto, a velvety frock that’s taken me to a holiday party or two over the years. This year, though, I’m wearing it in the yard while listening to Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker and planting our nutcrackers in our holiday pots, praying they work their protective magic.
Go ahead and garden – or do whatever makes YOU happy – in a dress or something else you haven’t worn all year. Because, Christmas!
"My favorite! Beautiful! I love velvet and gem tones are my favorite, especially emerald!" – Ann Marie H.
Dress Three: Thursday, December 24, 2020
I remember one holiday season where the snow got so high, you could barely walk through it. But my dad kept his promise to take us to buy a Christmas tree. We kids put on our snowsuits and Dad led us in a line, forging a path through the snow. We followed Dad like ducklings in snow boots, taking turns pulling our toboggan sled behind us.
After what felt like hours of trudging, we ended up roaming a temporary forest of “planted” evergreens. Our search for the perfect tree resulted in a smallish fir that Dad assured us was just right, though I’m sure he picked that one because it would fit best on the sled. We loaded it onto the toboggan and made the trip back, more slowly because of the added weight. By the time we got home, we were exhausted.
But we got the tree into the house and into a stand in the living room. We decorated it with lights, ornaments and a shiny star on top. We put our wooden nativity set on the red tree skirt beneath the tree. We were ready for Christmas.
After everyone left, I stayed with the tree. I lied down on the floor, inhaling its fresh pine scent. I scooted underneath it next to the nativity scene, where Jesus was surrounded by Mary, Joseph and the three wise men. Lying on my back, I looked straight up into the heart of the tree. I saw twinkling lights, shiny ornaments and, if I strained really hard, I could even see the star.
I closed my eyes and breathed it in. All I heard was the thought that kept repeating in my mind: “I believe.” I was thinking not only of Santa and baby Jesus, lying in his manger next to me, but also of myself. By then, I had learned that belief was a necessary foundation. I had also learned that the quote “If it is to be, it is up to me” was mostly true.
“I believe” became a mantra for me. It encompasses not only the faith and hope needed to survive, but also the determination and will needed to thrive.
There’s no better day than Christmas to say “I believe.” And there’s no better year than 2020 to feel it. This Christmas, I believe we are heading into brighter days.
I’m underneath my Christmas tree again, and I see the light. Look up with me. If you strain really hard, you will see the star.
Red lace dress with bell sleeves by White House Black Market.
"For sure 'I believe' because we always have hope. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas." – Cassandra C.
"Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I BELIEVE, too! Merry Christmas!" – Kelli P.
Dress Four: Sunday, December 27, 2020
Kicking off New Year’s week feeling kind of sassy in one of my all-time favorite dresses by designer BCBGMAXAZRIA. I really like this brand because confidence is the cornerstone of their designs: “We want all women to feel beautiful and empowered, no matter what they’re wearing.” The brand is named for “Bon Chic, Bon Genre,” a Parisian expression that means good style, good attitude. Amen!
This BCBG dress pairs a billowy purple silk top with a black pencil skirt bottom. Its unique design has made it an in-demand item among my family and friends. When my daughters were younger, even they asked to wear it to events and dances. Then, their friends asked if they, too, could borrow it.
Not unlike the book and film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this magical dress made its rounds through a circle of teenage girls who all waited for their chance to wear it. And just like the pants in the movie, the dress seemed to fit each girl perfectly, giving her the confidence to be her best self. Now that’s a good dress.
Today I’m pairing it with my platform combat boots by Mix No. 6 to kick off New Year’s week in style. It’s helping me feel bold and brave as we prepare to see what 2021 has in store for us. I’m filled with hope that better days are on the way.
Do you have a “magical” confidence-booster in your closet or drawer? Why not put it on this week and let it do its thing. It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2020 and start anew. Good things ahead, my friends!
"Always a stunning person ... inside and out. Wishing you and your family all the best for 2021, my friend." – Ian G.
Dress Five: Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Getting ready to kick 2020 to the curb, in this sparkly dress that’s tailor made for New Year’s Eve by designer Ralph Lauren and these over-the-knee stiletto boots by designer Stuart Weitzman. These are my “big girl” boots that I wear when I’m feeling particularly fierce. This outfit has taken me to a holiday ball or two, but today, it’s facing off against an awful year that’s run its course and needs to go.
Life has thrown some pretty hard punches this year, and many of us have hit the floor. But we are resilient, and we will rise. On our own time and in our own ways, we will mourn and we will carry scars. But we will persevere, because we are bold and we are brave, and because we must.
So I’m putting on my big girl boots and I’m kicking some 2020 ass, because it deserves no less. I hope you’ll join me. Let’s do this, 2021...
"The boots!!!!!" – Susan H.
"Yep, kicked 2020’s ass right out the door and never looking back. Here’s to a better 2021!!! (It’s got to be, right?!)" – Ellen S.
Dress Six: Friday, January 1, 2021
If you’ve been following my Six Dresses posts, you may remember that I found three dresses in my closet that still had the tags on them. This is that third dress, by Dress the Population. When thinking about why I hadn’t yet worn it, I realized that all three had one thing in common. They were a bit “much,” and I hadn’t yet found the event – or the moxie – to wear them. This dress, with its billions of beads and sequins, barely-there straps and daring design is, well, extra much. Let’s just call it EXTRA. And I wasn’t ready to be that extra (in a good way).
Which is why it’s the perfect dress to jumpstart a new year. Especially one that follows a year that was extra (in a bad way). But we got through 2020 and all its pain. While 2021 may start off feeling like nothing has changed, I disagree. Everything has changed. Our survival is an accomplishment to celebrate. And positive change is coming. We made history in several meaningful ways and we’ll soon see our advances get to work for us. 2021 will be a much different year.
So I put on my most extra dress, my most extra (ass-kicking) Stuart Weitzman boots, and even my faux fur evening jacket by BCBGMAXAZRIA to be extra-extra. Because I want to share my thoughts for the New Year with you.
Starting today, let’s start each day with positive intent. Let’s wear what makes us happy and follow our hearts, then share that joy with others. A better year starts with each of us, and we can create a ripple effect.
Let’s make 2021 the year of being extra:
- Let’s be extra curious and keep learning.
- Let’s be extra open and keep growing.
- Let’s be extra innovative and keep creating.
- Let’s be extra flexible and keep pivoting.
- Let’s be extra collegial and keep collaborating.
- Let’s be extra generous and keep giving.
- Let’s be extra accepting and keep healing.
- Let’s be extra safe and keep protecting loved ones.
- Let’s be extra healthy and keep practicing self-care.
- Let’s be extra thoughtful and keep looking out for each other.
- Let’s be extra aware that everyone is fighting their own battles we may know nothing about.
- Let’s be extra kind and give each other grace.
- Let’s be extra loving because it’s the right thing to do, doesn’t cost a thing, and will make the world a better place.
Extra Happy New Year, my friends.
"What a great message!! Love it, Elisa! Happy 2021!!" – Grace Y.
"Extra extra read all about it! Love your positivity and love! Love all around! May 2021 be full of hugs! Happy New Year, Elisa!" – Doron W.
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