Make This a Mad Men Thanksgiving

The hardest part of hosting a holiday meal isn’t the menu or the seating — most often, it’s deciding what to wear. How do you strike a perfect balance between festive and comfortable?

This year, take a tip from Mad Men’s Betty Draper and opt for a great dress.

Not so long ago, dresses were a housewife staple; a day dress was simple and elegant and feminine. Today, we think about dresses primarily for occasions or events, not just for Tuesday or carpool or running errands. A dress is a step up from our normal casual wear, not a way to polish our everyday look a little bit. But a dress can be all of the things we look for in casual wear — practical and comfortable and functional — as well as being a little prettier than jeans and a t-shirt.

Or, god forbid, yoga pants.

When you’re entertaining, a dress is the perfect what-to-wear solution. For Thanksgiving day, do all your last-minute prep work in your yoga pants and t-shirt; you don’t want to get butter or flour on your dress, after all. Once you’re done chopping and cutting and mixing, clean up and put on an easy dress to greet your guests; you’ll feel more like you’re hosting a party if you’re dressed for it, even if your dress is casual and practical. Here are five simple tips to help you look your best on Thanksgiving day.

Keep it light. Even though it might be cold outside, it will be warm in the kitchen, and as the hostess, you’ll be splitting your time between checking on your guests and checking on your Butterball turkey. While very summery fabrics (linen, for example) are out of season, a crisp cotton or silk blend dress is perfect for a day of cooking. Short sleeves, or a sleeveless sheath, are also appropriate.

Layer up. Look for a style that can accommodate a cardigan or jacket; you can take this outer layer off in the kitchen and toss it back on when you return to the party. A shirtdress or sheath with a beautiful cardigan really works that Betty Draper vibe, too, if that’s what you’re after.

Choose flats. Thanksgiving isn’t the day to pull out your three-inch heels; instead, opt for a low heel or a simple flat, since you’ll be on your feet for much of the day. Bare legs are fine, even in November, but if that’s not your style, think about a pair of cool tights, perhaps with some pattern. Panty hose, however, are too much for this look.

Add some bling. Put on some beautiful earrings or a big bold necklace for an elegant finishing touch. Even if your dress is simple, go all out with over-the-top jewelry; big necklaces are huge this year, and they’re a simple way to dress up even the most minimalist silhouette. But don’t pile on the rings and bracelets — they’ll get in the way when you’re cooking.

Don’t forget your apron! Here’s the real secret to making your elegant hostess look work: Keep your dress covered when you’re in the kitchen. That way, any incidental spills or splatters stay off of you, and you’ll come to the table looking fresh and pretty when the meal is ready. And since everyone always wants photos of the cook in the kitchen, go all out on a really cool apron, one that you’ll be happy to see in photos.

Of course, I’ll be wearing my Butterball apron over my Betty Draper dress. What about you?

2 Comments

  1. stacyfrompgh
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I dissuaded my hostess (twin sister) from wearing a wrap dress. I felt that not everyone would be dressed up and we don’t want to make our guests feel underdressed. We decided on changing into nice shirts with our jeans or cords–that way, all will be comfortable. Happy turkey day!

    • Posted November 26, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      In the end, that’s what matters — that everyone is comfortable.

      Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.

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  1. [...] At the Butterball Blog, I solve your what to wear for Thanksgiving dilemmas. [...]

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