By Colleen Jurkiewicz Reporter Published Dec 15, 2012 at 5:32 AM

Everyone wants to look their best during the holidays. Unfortunately, it's easier said than done. There is no busier season, and fashion might well take a backseat for many of us.

In addition, Mother Nature seems hell-bent against style, between Wisconsin's wind (destroying your perfect coiffure), snow (ever tried to get sidewalk salt out of suede boots?) and rain (make-up doom). 

But there’s no reason this season to sacrifice style for comfort. We’ve consulted Milwaukee’s fashion experts for the skinny on what’s hot, what’s not, and what you can’t live without this holiday season.

Andrea Peiffer, manager
Ma Jolie
5800 N. Bayshore Dr., Suite B120, (414) 961-8210
2583 N. Downer Ave., (414) 961-8200

‘Tis the season to be sparkly, says Peiffer. For holiday cocktail dresses, black lace, sparkles and maroon/wine hues have been big trends that she’s observed as manager of Ma Jolie’s Bayshore location. Fashionistas also like to put some dazzle in their outerwear, too – one of the store’s hottest sellers has been a shimmery silver Flash Geo parka, form-fitting and trimmed with real fur.

As for the store’s famous offering of premium denim? "Darker washes for denim are always big in the winter, and DL’s four-way-stretch is big," she says. She reports that some customers have also been drawn to the blinged-out slacks: Ma Jolie carries a pair of waxed denim jeans by DL 1961, as well as a festive green-colored jean by !iT. Straight-leg and skinny jeans are selling well because they fit easily inside thigh-high boots.

And of course, "boots have been really big," she says. "Frye (boots) have always been good sellers for us, and Uggs always sell well with younger people."

In particular, the Frye Heath pair with square toes and an outside zipper has been flying off the shelves, as well as the Phillip equestrian-style model with an outside harness.

Peiffer says that Ma Jolie’s male customers can’t get enough of Schott NYC coats, particularly peacoats (although interestingly, the peacoat is not as popular a trend for women). Accessories like messenger bags by Bed Stu and Frye are big sellers, as well as watches by Meister, Mistura and Wewood (crafted from 100% wood and a tree is planted for every watch sold).

What her customers want more than anything? Quality, says Peiffer. "The reason Frye bags do so well is that it’s expensive but it’s an investment," she says. "It lasts, and it’s an updated classic. I’ve had customers come in with Frye bags from the ‘70s."

Bjorn Nasett
Wardrobe stylist, make-up artist and hair stylist

If you want to be fashion forward this season, says Nasett, it’s all about looking backward.

"The romance of the past has made an appearance again on the fashion scene. Vintage-looking clothing and accessories bring back a feeling of comfort, nostalgia and – most of all – glamour."

His favorite vintage style? "Empire-waist sheath dresses that can be changed with just a few accessories or by adding a wonderful jacket with a peplum or other vintage detail."

Nasett also adds that the Christmas season is the perfect time to shine - literally. "For holiday parties the foolproof recipe is shiny and luxurious.  So think in terms of rich fabrics like satin, heavy silk, or sequins.  For knits, go with metallics or cashmere."

And of course, he emphasizes accessories as "the key to creating a stunning style for yourself"

"I am in love with long 'lavaliere' type necklaces," he says. "They hang mid-torso and are reminiscent of the 'twenties look,' which is totally on trend in fashion right now.  Layering it with gold chains and other necklaces is the way to make it memorable and chic.  With long pearls, you can wear them long or wrap them in many different ways – lots of options there."

So why the vintage mania? Does the plethora of period movies this season, like "The Great Gatsby" (now pushed back to a May release date), "Anna Karenina" and "Les Miserables," have anything to do with it?

"Of course," agrees Nasett. "Because great romances about fashionable lives will always create a stir, as people long for the simplicity and sentiment they conjure up.  Vintage themes are never out of style – as long as they're updated so that you don't look like you're in costume."

Sofia Wacksman, vice president of trend
Kohl's Department Stores 

"Whether day or night, dazzle this holiday season with pieces that shimmer and shine," says Wacksman. "This season, a little bit of shine goes a long way. Dress casually by adding sequin flats or a shimmer cardigan, or dress up any look with pieces such as iridescent jackets, appliqué dresses, metallic handbags and embellished heels." 

Also, count on fabrics to keep you updated. Interesting textures were huge this fall, and winter is no different.

"Effortlessly update wardrobes for the holidays with Kohl’s wide selection of apparel in luxe fabrics like velvet and brocade," Wacksman advises.  Apply the textures to accessories, too: "Dress-up an otherwise casual look with blazers, jackets, blouses and dresses, in rich materials including lace, faux-leather and faux-fur."  

Wacksman says that the "gift to give" this season is the embellished sweater, "which is perfect to wear throughout the holidays. Kohl’s offers additional wish-list items, including faux-fur outerwear accessories, statement and bib necklaces, statement jewelry like cuffs and bangles and fashionable clutches."

Erica Grabczyk, director
Groom for Men
330 E. St. Paul Ave., (414) 298-2076

What have Milwaukee’s most stylish men been putting on their holiday wish lists? Erica Grabczyk of Groom for Men has the answers.

This season is all about accessorizing, she says – and that has been especially true for men.  "Now more so than in the past, we're seeing lots of layers and more form fitting shapes," she says. "Guys are layering a T-shirt with a button-down shirt and a vest or sweater. Add a scarf and they're looking good."

Outerwear can also be a great way to accessorize your guy. "Outerwear runs from stylish casual (think military wool grays, browns and khaki colors) to dress coats (three-quarter lengths, not the old duster of the past) in grays, browns and navy," she says. "I'm seeing really handsome brown leather gloves, not bulky but form-fitting.

"Men are really just stepping it up a notch and not making excuses for why they want to look good."

The favorite stores and clothing lines for Groom clients? "Harley's For Men, Mark Pasch, Mark Berman & Sons, Ma Jolie and Simon & Olivia are great places to find fashion forward gear for a man. I'm pretty much a sucker for almost anything Ben Sherman," she says.

As for gift ideas, "we're giving our gentlemen of Groom a hankie with our logo on it. Green and classic. There is also the shaving craze of late: Groom retails brushes, stands, safety razors and blades - loads of different shave creams and gels, as well as face, hand and hair needs."

Grabczyk says the best place for quality leather goods like watches and iPhone holders is Ma Jolie, and that Simon & Olivia is great for "classic, clean-looking messenger bags. Nothing screams ‘manly’ like leather and mahogany, to quote Mr. Burgundy!"

And for the sportsman in your life, look to Les Moise and Moda3. " Les Moise and Moda3 are perfect, for both young and old. From watches to snow boards to sunglasses and skiing, they both have great selections. And for the woodsy dude, there's always Laacke and Joys. A really cool tool for the guys this year is the 43 function multi-tool from Baladeo. There's so many fun outdoorsy stuff to get a guy!"

Emma Meulemans, lead trainer
Roots Salon
1700 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, (262) 780-1429
5711 Broad St., Greendale, (414) 235-9415 
525 E. Chicago St. (414) 988-4165

Just like with fashion, hair and make-up is all about rich tones, says Emma Meulemans, lead trainer at Roots Salon in Brookfield.

"Blondes are adding in golden lowlights to counter-balance the bleached-out sun look and brunettes and redheads are adding shine and rich tones to their existing colors," she says. "I’ve also noticed hair parts are more playful this season. Texture is still huge, so go with a natural wave as a base for your up-style or tease fine hair after curling for a more tousled look."

As for make-up, Meulemans suggests burgundy and red lips as well as "holiday shimmer" on the eyes and cheeks. "Lip stains are perfect for holiday parties as they stay one when eating and drinking," she said.

Here are some specific looks Meulemanns suggests for holiday parties with friends, co-workers and family.

For a party with friends, "these looks can be more fun and playful – or if you’re going out on the town, more sultry and sexy," she says. "They’re your friends – they have to love you, right?"

She suggests "letting the curls flow" by wrapping your hair around a 1-inch curling iron – "for a more beach wave look. You can also part your hair down the middle of a more carefree appeal." For that vintage feel, Meulemans suggests a deep side part with some brushed-out curls.

"Be sure to use a heat memory spray when curling so your hair stays all night," she says. "My favorite is Redken’s Spray Starch. Finish with Pureology’s Strength Control Hairspray, which is non-dulling and will hold your look’s shine and shape."

And don’t be afraid to be daring with your make-up.

"Go extreme with bold or smoky eyes, incorporating some glitter and shimmer tones for a holiday feel," she advises. "Another idea would be to go with a strong black eyeliner and a bold red lip. Find a red shade that works with your skin tone. A consult with a makeup artist can help you choose the perfect shade. However, in a pinch, a deep, rich red, with subtle gold undertones tends to work on all skin types."

How about for the office party?

"I’d go a little more traditional or conservative with this look," says Meulemans. She advises that a "classic style like a low chignon or bun. Even a French twist would do the trick. You can modernize these looks by adding texture. Simple moves like diffusing your hair before you put it up or teasing the roots can create texture without adding much time to your styling."

For texturizing products, Meulemans recommends prepping the hair with Guts by Redken. "Spray it at the roots, concentrating near the crown, before you dry your hair that day," she says. "If your hair is already dry, use Powder Grip (also by Redken) to dust your roots. This will create a better base for teasing. When you’re finished with your style, throw in a little sparkle by adding a barrette or headband."

Go neutral with your make-up. This is a work function, after all – not a rave. "For makeup, I’d suggest more natural tones, emeralds or purples. To add some flare, go in with a sparkly eyeliner that compliments your eye color."

And finally, what’s a girl to do to stay stylish when she’s helping prepare Christmas dinner for the family? 

"When I’m with my family for dinner, I’m usually helping to set the table, cook, and entertain family," says Meulemanns.  "A great option for this occasion is a dressy ponytail. They have been coming out strong this season and will continue to have a presence well into spring.

"To make it more than the everyday pony, start by curling the ends of your hair, prepping with Redken’s Iron Silk or a heat protective spray. Once you are finished curling, work on teasing the roots at the crown. Pull everything back loosely into a low or high ponytail, depending on your preference. Wrap a 1-inch piece of hair from the ponytail around the hair tie to hide the band, or use a clear ponytail holder when securing. Finish the look with a firm hold hairspray like Pureology’s Supreme Hold Hairspray."

Colleen Jurkiewicz Reporter

Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.