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Written by: Laura Cassar (local mom & wife, children's book author and Village cheerleader)

Sure, the holidays are hectic, that's part of what makes them great! There's so much to do and people to see!  No matter what is on your social calendar for the month, The Village of Rochester Hills has the perfect outfit for any occasion. With a dozen different events in mind, we offer you The Twelve Dresses of Christmas (hum along, if you want.)

On the First Day of Christmas my book club hosted a really fun Girls' Night Out…..

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A lot of book clubs might keep in casual January through November, but most turn up the" festive meter" for December to celebrate another year of quality reading. The Loft has the perfect sleeveless medallion jacquard dress, with fitted top and flared skirt for this GNO. In navy blue, the dress is thick, warm and comfortable. It is $89.50. Here Ashley, Loft manager, completes the look with necklace ($49.50) and bracelets ($24.50 each).  

On the Second Day of Christmas my true friends gave to me a tree trimming dinner party….

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When it's time to deck the halls, trim the tree and indulge in roast beast with friends,  Evereve's Free People Dynamite Denim mini-dress ($128) fits the bill! Personal stylist Cindy gives the dress additional holiday spirit with a Free People Parisian Night cranberry slip ($78) and gold/silver tassel necklace ($38). That great thing about this outfit is that it can be mix-and-matched to be worn again and again. 

On the Third Day of Christmas my dear friends gave to me a dozen Christmas cookies….

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A holiday cookie exchange is a great excuse to get together with friends to consume massive quantities of chocolate and sugar too! This Buffalo plaid party skirt from  Talbot's is an adorable retro look that makes me want to throw on an apron and channel my inner June Cleaver! The skirt ($149) has slash pockets and front pleats and pairs well with a crisp white wrinkle-resistant blouse ($74.50.) (Wrinkle-resistant was probably a Christmas dream come true for old June!) The black bracelets complete the look for $39.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my neighbors gave to me a progressive dinner party….

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Whether traveling around the world, or just around the neighborhood for a progressive dinner party, Chico's special Travelers line offers the perfect, wrinkle-free outfit. Store manager Mary is ready for an evening of food and friends in this glittering navy and gold outfit. Flattering crepe navy pants ($79) are topped with a gold shimmer tank ($55) and striped navy and gold sweater ($109). A big, bold necklace ($79) adds the finishing sparkle. 

On the Fifth Day of Christmas my child gave to me an elementary class party….

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It's a special treat to relive the magic of Christmas through your child's eyes. Whether you're the Room Mom or just a cheerful volunteer, Gap has great outfit options for you. Sales associate Jenny helped me pair a blue and black plaid wool skirt ($59.95) with fun zipper pockets and a soft grey ribbed turtleneck ($39.95). Plain black leggings for $29.95 make the outfit cozy and comfortable enough to participate in any reindeer games the classroom may offer. 

On the Sixth Day of Christmas I helped my world by attending a charity event….

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It's the season of giving and there is no shortage of galas, balls and cocktail parties to help make the world a better place. Lane Bryant's venetian red dress ($99.95) with a lace overlay would bring holiday cheer to any black tie event.  The three-quarter sleeves are trimmed with eyelash lace and the belt is a self-tie ribbon. Sales associate Beth accessorized with stone statement necklace ($34.95) and earrings ($14.95). The lace up strappy heel ($59.95) completes the look.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my company gave to me a casual holiday party…..

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Is your company holiday party more fun than fancy? Ann Taylor's boiled wool flounce dress ($139)  in winter blue is too! Sleeveless with a deep V-neck, the jewel tone is sure to set a merry tone to any event. The double strand pearls add the finish touch for $59.50.

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my company gave to me a super fancy holiday party….

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Sometimes you've got to go big or go home. White House Black Market certainly helps you do the former. Their lace bodice jumpsuit ($170) will rock any holiday event, and best of all, it's comfortable! The store carries every accessory you need to take your outfit to the max with helpful staff like sales lead Austin to put it all together for you. She completed my look with a shrug sweater ($58), statement necklace ($65) and gem stud earrings ($25), sparkling bracelet ($45) and a satin envelope clutch ($78). You'll be looking for excuses to wear this outfit!

On the Ninth Day of Christmas it was finally time to get together with the extended family…..

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It's time to see the family and whether you're fighting over the best White Elephant gift or trying to get your fork out of the fondue, Francesca's little black dress ($48) will see you through. With a strappy gold lace bodice matching the gold lace strips on the skirt, you'll look as pretty as your favorite Christmas ornament. A black and gold necklace ($24) enhances the neckline.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas I remembered the reason for the season and went to church….

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Ann Taylor's lace shift dress ($139) with short sleeves and a back keyhole is an absolute classic perfect for Christmas services. You cannot go wrong with it, anytime or any place. The gold and pearl necklace ($69.50) says timeless.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas I attended a holiday brunch…..

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It's been a whirlwind but the end is in sight! One more decadent Christmas brunch before focusing on New Year resolutions! And lucky you, J Jill has a perfectly stylish and comfortable outfit for the occasion. Assistant manager Susan wears a Pure Jill sueded dress in 100 percent cotton ($99) with fleece-lined footless tights ($25). The dress is also available in red, green or black. Susan adds a splash of holiday red with her color block scarf ($39) and a little sparkle with her long necklace ($49).

On the Twelveth Day of Christmas I celebrated the New Year…..

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Just when you think you're done, well, there's New Year's Eve! Banana Republic has the ultimate metallic dress ($198) to ring in the New Year. The color, a warm silver, is fantastic but it's the cut, with a camouflage effect around the middle, that is so kind after a month of holiday calories and cheer! Shimmering sequins and chiffon trim, plus those double spaghetti straps, send out a clear "let's party" statement. No one else need know you plan on spending the entire next day laying on your couch in your oldest pair of sweat pants!

Happy Holiday from The Village! We hope they are merry, bright and well-dressed!

Michiganders know that before the cold weather sets in, we're treated to one of the most spectacular displays of fall color anywhere on earth. It seems that everywhere we look, nature is bursting with a brilliant palette of greens that first become gold, ease into orange, and climax with a range of reds that intensify from rose, to ruby, and eventually, crimson.
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Our traditional fall wardrobes change color, too. After Labor Day, white is retired, pastels are put away, and brights are restricted. But why should we succumb to this approach just as the landscape becomes so muted and drab? One of the foundations of great style is knowing how to break the rules. This means you purposely pair burgundy...with peach. Navy blue can be bold...when teamed with teal and turquoise, and camel longs to become more playful...with something unexpected...like violet and carnation. 
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Talbots has long been respected for their consistently stylish interpretation of classic fashion. But take a look at where they're headed this fall...with this Double Face Wing Collar Jacket, in particular.
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"Fiesta Pink" is the vibrant shade and cropped is the cut. "No-Close" styling assures that this fashion is always fluid and the fit, flattering. It easily goes from indoors to outdoors, and can be casual by day, cocktail by night. Wear this now to add interest to any fall ensemble, layer-it-up when the snow flies, and continue to "work it" as spring buds begin to bloom.
This is the season to ponch-up your wardrobe...with a poncho.
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Everyone can wear this versatile outerwear option. They're surprisingly warm and will withstand blasts of cold, but won't overheat you for a dash indoors. Ponchos are all the rage because they drape and flatter every figure and are not cumbersome and constricting like traditional coats. Have you every tried to maneuver yourself into your car seat in an over-sized overcoat? It can sometimes be an effort that requires a degree in engineering.IMG 1159
 
The Appaloosa Plaid Poncho from Evereve will accommodate your mobility and enhance your style because it has the added fashion feature of being reversible. Bold plaid on one side is paired with a colored-coordinated subtle houndstooth pattern on the other. You can commit to one...or the other...or even show them off simultaneously by tying an asymmetric knot on one side to expose both patterns.
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It gets better. This fabulous, functional feat of fashion is 100% hand-washable acrylic...and retails for only $38.00 at Evereve!
 
And here's the best part...YOU can win the poncho and shirt to layer. Simply post your favorite part of autumn on our Facebook page
Investment dressing always makes cent$. Tried and true pieces that transcend trend and that can be repurposed and re invented are ultimately a bargain. For fall, though, the term inVESTment dressing takes on an added dimension. IMG 1113The vest is being interpreted in countless ways and clearly the most interesting application is as outerwear. We're not talking about the short, puffy, down-filled version. To the contrary, this season, long lengths and fluid lines are the signature look for the "en-trend-y".
 
IMG 1111The Shawl Collar Sleeveless Coat from White House/Black Market epitomizes the design concept of "flow follows function". It's perfect for layering and looks great with virtually anything: skinny jeans, wide-leg pants, midi and mini skirts, turtlenecks, and even hoodies. The Color Camel is cool again, too, and easily integrates in any wardrobe scheme. Take a look at our lovely model, Tombi Stewart. She managed to make the Sleeveless Coat both inner and outer wear and effortlessly transitioned it from edgy to prim and proper. Her fashion formula: a versatile garment + a little imagination = a grand entrance.
 
Think you need to add this piece to your fall fashion wardrobe? White House Black Market has it and you can even try to win it on our Facebook page.
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That's a wrap! ...is the phrase every model wants to hear during a fashion shoot because it means that the job has been completed...the moves, looks, and attitude were perfect and the resulting images...stunning. 
 
 IMG 1038This season, "a wrap" is undoubtedly the single-most versatile wardrobe addition for any woman. It's functional, flattering, and fashionable. It's a garment that can be whatever you want it to be...outerwear, inner wear, casual, cocktail...and the proof is in this editorial photo spread.
 
The Icebreaker Women's Bliss Wrap is created from lightweight merino wool and is therefore a year-round option. It's wrinkle and odor resistant, easy to care for and perfect for travel. But as practical as all of these qualities are, it also possesses genuine charm.
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You can throw this on, dash out the door and achieve drape-y perfection with zero effort. By buttoning one edge up and
onto the opposite shoulder, you can opt for asymmetric drama. Tie it in the back...or the front...wear a loosely-slung bow...or "raise the stakes" with an empire waist.
 
Where will you find such fashion-forward thinking? You may be surprised know that the Icebreaker Women's Wrap is from Moosejaw.
 
Or, as our model Tombi Stewart put it, "THIS is from MOOSEJAW"???!!! Win this fabulous fall fashion piece on the Village Facebook page by sharing how you "wrap up your day." 
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denimIn the past, a haberdashery was where gentlemen went to have all of their wardrobe needs attended to by expert clothiers who understood the importance great style and tailoring. It's a fact that the well-dressed man has advantages in life, but the effort required to achieve such status can be complicated in this day and age. There are lots of places to buy menswear, but most of them only have specific and limited offerings: high-end (and often intimidating) designer boutiques, "stuffy", old-school suit retailers, casual men's stores (whose idea of comfort means that everything they sell is oversized), and "fast fashion" where trend often triumphs over taste.

It's no wonder that most American men find the effort to attire themselves to be a frustrating process, instead of an easy and enjoyable experience. The Village of Rochester Hills is pleased to announce the addition of J. Barbaro Clothiers to the "neighborhood" and the timing couldn't be better.casual_shirts

Menswear is changing. Luckily, these changes are incremental and great style for men has always been about nuances in design and subtlety in detail. Hipsters in every major city around the world have embraced "the classics" in exciting new ways. Plaids and argyle, Oxfords and bow ties are part of the new uniform. Perhaps the cut is a bit trimmer, or the color more vibrant, but men are stepping up their style. And, there's a confidence that comes with it, no matter how forward-thinking or conservative your fashion comfort zone.

Furthermore, workplace dress codes are changing too, but as some of them become "relaxed", the rules and message can be confusing. Remember, the sharp dressed guy is more likely to get the promotion, so Casual Friday isn't a day to slack-off. Comfort can still look cool.

tiesTraditional business attire isn't going away anytime soon, though. There are certain expectations for Business Formal environments and occasions. Business Traditional is another category and Business Creative is an emerging one.

None of this has to be confusing, though. The team at J. Barbaro Clothiers consists of experts who are educators. They'll help you make the right purchases that can be multi-purposed and easily transition from business to casual and day to night. They combine all of the benefits of having a wardrobe stylist and a personal shopper and a master tailor in one, relaxing and creative environment. Their goal is to build a relationship with you, as you build your wardrobe. Their wide selection of labels like Canali, Eton, Joe's Jeans, Robert Talbot, Jack Victor, True Religion and Robert Graham will insure a signature look that will get you noticed and inspire others.

You may not be hitting The Red Carpet soon, but George Clooney will. He's always on everybody's best-dressed list and it's no coincidence that he started out out as a suit salesman in his younger days. Matt Lauer still buys his suits from the same men's store that he worked at during the summer in his high school and college years. That's a great testament to "knowing your customer". Even if you're not on-camera, you might be inspired to know that a former haberdasher, a guy who owned a little men's clothing store in Kansas City, Missouri never took for granted the the power of a good suit. He eventually closed his store, but went on to pursue other opportunities. His name was Harry S. Truman, the thirty-third President of a the United States.

lane bryant-2 copyOne of the hottest trends in the fashion world is the reinvention of iconic design houses. The fading luster of certain luxury retailers has been brilliantly reignited by a handful of talented, young visionaries. Over the years, Gucci, Burberry and Lanvin are just a few examples of high- end brands that suddenly went from matronly to modern.

Another trend in forward-thinking fashion is accessibility. That's why designers are so eager to launch limited editions in affordable stores, in addition to their runway collections.

You might be surprised to know that Lane Bryant is the latest name to embrace these concepts. They've transitioned from "established" to "exciting" and their newest location at The Village of Rochester Hills is a showcase for this new fashion philosophy.assymetrical lb

Renowned designer Isabel Toledo is on board, too, and her exclusive collection merges the hottest trends into figure-enhancing looks for women of all shapes and sizes. Her education as a fine arts major in painting and ceramics gives her an elevated approach to translating color, pattern and form. Short isn't prohibitive--especially when asymmetry is added to a hemline. Her bold geometry isn't complicated, nor is it compromising. Cropped tops are all the rage and her take on this trend is a versatile and bold bolero that works for anyone...of any size...in any season.

Your style sensibility doesn't have to be "sensible" at Lane Bryant. Bold floral can be figure- friendly and fun, too. Ruching, or draping fabric and sewing it into artistic folds can add comfort and look cool. Ask any red carpet-watcher and they'll confirm that plunging necklines and overexposure have been replaced by sheer panels and detail as the new standard in sexy. And in the era of "statement accessories", Lane Bryant is also the perfect place to meter the dose and adjust the scale of your shoes, bags and jewelry. This is something that everyone needs to get right, regardless of dress size.

may-14-floral-topFull figures made Mae West and Marilyn Monroe screen goddesses. Oprah Winfrey, one of today's most admired women also routinely shows up on best-dressed lists. Adele reigns supreme among the current crop of pop music divas and was recently named one of the world's "most beautiful" by People Magazine. These women have made being plus-size...a plus. Take a cue from them and a trip to the new Lane Bryant at The Village of Rochester Hills to discover your Learning Curves.