FILE - In this June 4, 2014 file photo, British model Alexa Chung wears a long skirt at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition preview party in London. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP, File)

Jon Furniss

FILE - In this June 4, 2014 file photo, British model Alexa Chung wears a long skirt at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition preview party in London. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP, File)

Reach for a skirt for the holiday party circuit

By Leanne Italie

Associated Press

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NEW YORK – December is a busy month for holiday parties and that inevitable task of trying to make your wardrobe stretch without breaking the bank on fancy dresses you’ll wear rarely the rest of the year.

Why not turn to skirt dressing instead?

“Skirts are definitely happening for cocktail dressing,” said Meg Cuna, the fashion expert at the style site Popsugar. “It’s a less traditional way to dress for the holidays but it gives you so many more options and combinations to work with.”

Look no further than Kim Kardashian and other influencers, including Lydia Hearst and Alexa Chung, for ways to elevate a skirt.

“Skirts are great way to get the most variations out of your holiday party pieces,” said Connie Wang, fashion features director at Refinery29.

Some tips on how to dress up a skirt for the holidays:

MIX AND MATCH

Wang suggests wearing a stiffer skirt on top of a flowier dress. Try a slim pencil in a below-the-knee style over a slip dress.

“It’s a creative way to layer. Or cinch a longer-length skirt and a fitted top together with a wide Wonder Woman-style belt for a femme fatale silhouette,” she said.

Last year’s peplum-style skirts and high-low hemlines have been replaced by long, sinewy silhouettes like the below-the-knee pencil, long, fringed styles and pleated, asymmetrical crepe skirts, Wang added.

“Wear them with high-necked cropped shirts or an off-the-shoulder blouse and your flashiest shoes,” she said.

Or pair a mini skirt with a feminine blouse that has a bow at the neck and wear a killer pair of sky high boots, Cuna suggests.

Go for prints, and pay attention to fabric. Choose silk, brocade, lace or cashmere touches, she said.

SIMPLE ELEGANCE

Skirts can lend a simple elegance over the bling of a beaded or sequined cocktail dress. There’s a ‘70s vibe that plays on fabrics over embellishments.

“I’m sort of loving the feminine skirts and the cozy tops, especially when it’s starting to get a little chilly out,” Hearst said.

For cocktails, Chung added: “I’d wear a leather pencil skirt and I’d wear some kind of big frilly blouse and a stiletto.”

ELONGATE THE LOOK

Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president of Neiman Marcus, said you can’t go wrong by lowering hems.

“I really love a maxi and I love a midi this season. I think that a longer hemline looks really good to the eye. Something that has a little bit more fluidity is really the news,” he said.

Where your hem falls “depends on what legs you’ve got,” Chung said. “A mini skirt’s wonderful if you want to feel racy. I’m 32 and the hemlines are getting lower.”

ACCESSORIES ARE KEY

Downing is a fan of chunky heeled boots.

“I like to see the leg covered right now,” he said.

If sparkle is what you’re after, try a sequin knit skirt with bright crystal jewelry.

“Crystal jewelry for day looks so chic,” Downing said.

If you’re looking for focus, glamorize from the waist up. Wear a gray flannel suit skirt with suede boots and a top with a touch of embellishment.

Scarves never go out of style. A skinny one with beads or fringe – looped once around the neck – can dress up a skirt outfit, Cuna said.

INDIVIDUALIZE THE LOOK

There’s freedom in skirt dressing, Chung said, and a slice of midriff is definitely on the table.

“I don’t believe in any limitations or rules, so if you’re comfortable with showing some skin then go for it,” she said.

Grab a choker to dress up a skirt look, Cuna said. They don’t have to cost a lot and come in metals, velvet, suede and an array of colors.

“It’s nice to bring in some shine around your neck with everything from gold chains to wearing a statement piece,” she said. “We really love a pair of statement earrings right now. Just comb your hair back in a really simple low ponytail and let a pair of giant, sparkly earrings be the centerpiece of your look.”

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