As the holiday season kicks into high gear, so do the invitations to holiday gatherings, from the ugly sweater parties to more formal affairs. But you don’t need to resort to just red and green at your next holiday fete. Here in Maine, it’s less about chasing the winter trends and more about feeling comfortable in what you wear.

If you’ve got plenty of parties on the docket, the key is to be practical. You don’t need to buy a new outfit for every event. Dustin Otton from Portland Dry Goods tells us finding the perfect go-to sweater is half the battle. “Find something classic with a good fit. A wool crewneck will look good with or without a collared shirt and under any jacket. We point our customers to Scottish and Irish knits ranging from simple raglan standbys to chunky cable knits,” he says.

A holiday sweater is key for ladies too. Have a little more fun and find one with simple embellishments, like a jeweled peter-pan collar or leather trim.

For more formal fetes, finding a dress that flatters and make you feel good is key. Kristen Ockenfels, store manager of Helene M, recommends brands like Donna Morgan and Nicole Miller from her store, for silhouettes that look good on every shape. She also sees a twist on classic red and green with dresses in emerald hues and purples, with pops of chartreuse for good measure.

“If you’re going to wear a dress, don’t forget tights. This is Maine and it’s cold out!” she says.

For guys, stick to the one-to-three-part formula if you’re in doubt. Keep one element dressy and the others casual, like a dress shirt and tie with jeans and sneakers. And don’t be afraid to ask what others are wearing to the event, though no one ever looks down on a guest that’s sharply dressed.

Since our holiday shopping lists are long enough as it is, accessories are easy, affordable ways to update existing outfits.

“Buying a new necklace or pair of chandelier earrings is a sure way to jazz up any outfit. Scarves are also good for this reason,” says Ockenfels. “If you buy something at a lower price point, I think it’s always good to branch out – go for something that could be a good conversation piece or something you normally wouldn’t wear. Change is good!”

This extends to the gentleman as well, with bowties, neckties or a tartan pocket square that aren’t just delegated to suits.

“And don’t forget fun socks,” says Otton.

There aren’t too many hard and fast rules about what not to wear this holiday season, though fit seems to be at the top of every one’s list. Too high of a hemline, too low of a neckline are very rarely in vogue – especially when it’s freezing outside.

As for those of you with ugly sweater parties on the agenda, hit up your local Goodwill or vintage store. My go-to’s are Find, Moody Lords or the Portland Flea-for-All for just the right amount of kitsch at the right price.

Laura Serino is a blogger for