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Fashion by Felicia

Felicia Caponigri | Tuesday, December 6, 2011

There are some seasons of life that require something more of us. It is not enough simply to go through the daily motions, to pass the same people with the same smile. Instead, these seasons require imagination and a full-bodied commitment to being absolutely fabulous. 

Welcome to Christmas! The decorations are up, Starbucks has red Christmas cups, and the holidays are calling fashionistas to our favorite activity — shopping! It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. 

However, let’s face it, as multi-talented as we women of the 21st century are, we seem particularly subject at this time of the year to a certain ailment I like to call “styling-under-the-influence.” While it does not involve any eggnog, this ailment still packs a punch. The usual instigator is the unexpected holiday party, relatives you only see once a year, an overzealous desire to wear anything sparkly and/or finals overdrive, not to mention the pressure to buy gifts for everyone.

It results in some seriously challenging fashion moments. The results of “styling-under-the-influence” include but are not limited to: wearing your mother’s reindeer and candy cane sweaters from 1982, dousing yourself in glitter to match the gold party dress you bought after a close call with your Chemistry exam, tying red bows in your hair with the ribbon your mother was planning to use to outfit the column in your living room in proper candy cane fashion and forgetting your coat in the midst of all the shopping rush causing you to turn into Ms. Frosty the Snow-woman (this last one is particularly altering, trust me). 

While it may seem we need the elves of Santa Chic to help us fight this plight, in reality we have an accessory that takes us to new imaginative heights, vaulting us into a time of yesteryear when there was nothing to disturb us from tranquil sleigh rides. Ladies, I give you the muff.

A precursor to gloves, the muff originated in the 16th century and was a hit with both men and women. Usually made out of fur (although of course today please feel free to go faux), the muff is made in the form of a cylinder, lined with warm fabric on the inside, with just enough space for you to delicately fold your hands and walk gracefully into a coming snowstorm. With the advent of gloves the muff’s popularity declined, but resurged in the ‘40s and ‘50s (I’ll never forget Zsa Zsa Gabor’s as she skated along in the musical film “Gigi”).

Instead of being relegated to pockets like gloves, the best part of the muff is that when you are not using it to warm your hands, you simply let it slide oh so gently down one of your forearms, showing it off to its best advantage. As you wave to your family at the airport, your barista as he prepares your Christmas cappuccino or goodbye to a pesky college requirement never to be taken again, everyone will comment on the grace and ease of your salute. With your trusty muff on your arm, come what may, you will be elegant. And if that’s not in the spirit of Christmas, then I’m not Fashion’s Mrs. Claus. Happy Holidays!

Contact Felicia Caponigri at fcapognig@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.