Holiday style 2012: What to wear at the season’s big parties

BCBG on Union Street has many festive options for the holidays photo: courtesy

Sometimes, the best gifts don’t come in the biggest boxes or have the most extravagant bows. Sometimes, the best gifts you can give are the ones you give to yourself. This year, when you’re staring into your closet wondering what to wear, consider this your time to play Santa. Whether you need a show-stopping dress for a night on the town or cozy sweater for an intimate family gathering, the Marina and Cow Hollow stores have something for you. The best part? It comes without the chaotic rush of downtown. Skip the lines, beat the crowds, and treat yourself this holiday season. Even grownups deserve a little time under the tree.

2068 Chestnut Street (at Steiner), 415-775-3423,
Most of us forget that what lies beneath gives shape to everything that follows. Owners Shelly and Michael have made a living out of the underneath of it all, and they’ve done so with class, taste and unparalleled style for more than 17 years. From the barely-there sexy little things to body-shaping Spanx, from kinky costumes to comfy robes, Chadwick’s of London is sure to have you shipshape for whatever ensemble you’re donning. If you’re channeling sensuality, look for pieces with dramatic lace, peek-a-boo cutouts or ultra-feminine detailing. The wide variety of Blush’s bra and panty sets are as seductive as they are functional, and at around $55, will have you feeling like a million bucks for a real bargain. Or, if you’re in the mood for curling up with a hot cup of Joe, Chadwick’s plush P.J. Salvage Robes ($110) are the perfect coffee mate. Whatever your pleasure, treat yourself, and take ladylike to the next level starting with the most basic sum of your parts.

2124 Chestnut Street (near Steiner), 415-441-6727,
It’s time to sparkle and shine, and if you’re looking to put on the Ritz this holiday season, Two Skirts can put the twinkle in your step quite literally. This boutique’s self-proclaimed “boudoir experience” lives up to its expectation. The seduction is apparent, both in its alluring selection of high-end merchandise, including J-Brand, Red by Valentino, Moschino, Tracy Reese, and in its carefully culled accessories, spotlighting designers like Miriam Salat, Erin Hakansson and Anna Beck. But there’s something more that draws Two Skirts’ sophisticated shoppers back time and again — it’s that je ne sais quoi of boutique shopping that cannot be duplicated. From the private quarters of their drapey dressing rooms to the comfort of their cozy couches, Two Skirts is a place to get lost for hours, where sales associates turn into confidantes, and fellow shoppers turn into instant friends. This year, if you’re planning to party, slip into something sequined. Standout pieces include Joie’s capped-sleeved beaded top ($328) or Parker’s sparkly black slip dress ($365) or navy blue blazer ($345).

2176 Chestnut Street (at Pierce), 415-440-5701
It seems that the holiday party has already begun at Heritage Row. Owner Jenny France is the host to this chic soiree, and the enthusiasm here is infectious. The intimate two-story space is decked out in dainty dresses, floor-sweeping skirts, cozy knits, and outerwear rendered with a casual cool. France dresses women with her adage, “for work, play, night, and day,” so Heritage Row could be your one-stop shop. Seamlessly cut Stacy brand jeans, BB Dakota leather jackets and Aryn K breezy tops line the walls, punctuated by a seasonal selection of dresses. Expand your repertoire
for femininity with stand-outs like Lavender Brown’s A-line minidress in black ($158), MinkPink’s polka-dotted shift dress ($106), and Patterson of Kincaid’s long blush maxidress ($250).

1823 Union Street (at Octavia), 415-567-7465,
Max Azria is a multihyphenate of glamour: As founder, designer, chairman, and CEO of the mega brand BCBG, Azria operates a powerhouse of style that translates his Parisian roots into the American vocabulary. BCBG, short for “Bon Chic, Bon Genre,” means good style, good attitude. Whether one facilitates the other or is a direct correlation, it’s working. Azria has captured the essence of the modern woman, leaving the femininity in the details. Subtle nuance of cut, color and line speak unquestionably to the girl in all of us. Whether you have been naughty or nice this holiday season, BCBG has something in stock for you. If you want to lace up, the stunning ruby red Rochelle dress ($498) or the sleek black Beaute jumpsuit ($268) are obvious choices. If you’re looking for the signature BCBG take on tailored glamour, then the white tuxedo-style Seann jacket ($288) paired over their gilded Selby sequined leggings ($348) will stop holiday traffic. If you’re naughty, nice, or a little bit of both, BCBG wants to transform your attitude with good style. And don’t worry, your secret’s safe with them.

2095 Union Street (at Webster), 415-563-2323,
This corporate conglomerate proves that it is more than capable of the personal touch. This comes in handy, especially during the holidays when that personal touch has implications far extending the splashy slogan on a Hallmark card. Since its San Francisco inception in 1976, Bebe has become a retailing heavyweight, carving a sartorial niche by exuding not a brand but an attitude. Bebe is all about the confident woman: The clothes here are not for the faint-of-heart or the self-conscious; they are much like the woman the brand exemplifies — bold, fearless, sexy, and undeniably fun. Make an entrance this year in their holiday collection, featuring the Rita jacquard peplum bustier ($98), geometric sequin-blocked dress ($169), and the gold chevron sequin flare dress ($169).

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Jessica Wolfrom is a freelance writer and Bay Area fashion blogger with a love affair for all things vintage. Find her at, or get in touch at [email protected]