For 10 years Clinton Kelly has been responding to fashion emergencies on “What Not to Wear,” so with the holiday season in full swing we turned to him for some advice on how to deck the halls in style – and you can start by putting that tacky Christmas sweater in the donation pile!
“I have some rules for Christmas sweaters,” the 43-year-old tells omg!. “I think that you are only allowed to wear them if you are actually a grandmother who is in the process of baking cookies with your grandkids and you have no intention of leaving the house [laughs]. That’s the only time I’m going to cut you some slack on the Christmas sweater.” However, there are a few exceptions. “I’ve actually seen some holiday-style sweaters that I don’t mind that much,” he admits. “I saw one with a reindeer – not an appliqué reindeer, one that was knit into the sweater. I don’t mind them so, so much. But when you start getting into three-dimensionality – snowmen, pompoms, bells, batteries! – I think you have to draw the line.”
So now that we have the don’ts established, how about the dos? “Nothing says holidays and celebrating like shine,” says Kelly, whose TLC fashion series returns to TV on January 3. “There’s something about the dreary weather of the winter that requires a little shine to bring some life into the situation. As far as clothing, I would recommend instead of the classic bright red Christmas sweater, go with deeper, richer tones – this season oxblood is a really big color and that’s perfect for the holidays. So instead of doing the literal red or green, look for shades that are a little bit off of those.”
And don’t forget a little bling. “I think statement jewelry is a must this holiday season,” says the style pro. “You take your basic black dress or cashmere sweater and you layer on some beautiful jewelry – whether that’s a statement necklace, big bold cuff, or dangly earrings. And feel free to mix and match your metallics. That’s something people get caught up with – ‘Does this gold and this silver go together?’ Yes, it always goes together, but especially for the holiday season.”
Kelly’s holiday plans involve spending time with his husband, Damon Bayles, and their families – and feasting on good food. The main course at his house will be inspired by a recipe he learned from one of his chef pals from his other show – ABC’s “The Chew.” “Michael Symon just showed me how to make a delicious slow-baked ham that has a jalapeño glaze,” shares Kelly. He’ll also be making his Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onions and Puff Pastry (see the recipe), which he created with Sargento. “I decided I was going to make this really good version of the classic green bean casserole. I took the base of what you would make with a mac and cheese – I basically made this amazing cheese sauce with Sargento cheese – and I put fresh green beans that I blanched, and baked that with a puffed pastry crust. Amazing!”
Speaking of “The Chew” – the daytime food and lifestyles series which also stars Mario Batali, Carla Hall, and Daphne Oz – we had to know which one of Kelly’s co-hosts he would like to makeover. “I’m so not answering that question,” Kelly laughs.
Well, then at least tell us if he approves of Batali’s famed footwear – orange Crocs, which he wears everywhere from the red carpet to the White House. “Here’s the thing – for Mario it’s a look,” says Kelly. “The man has successfully trademarked himself with the ponytail, the polar fleece vest, the shorts, and the orange Crocs. It works for him. He’s turned himself into an icon, into a brand, and he’s made millions of dollars off of his look. Who am I to say that look is not working for Mario Batali? It’s obviously working for him. He’s got a wife, he’s got kids – he’s a happy man. You know, that’s what I say about other people’s style,” Kelly continues. “If you have a style that you’re happy with – that is really working for you – knock yourself out. Who am I to tell you to change your ways. I’m really more concerned with people who aren’t living up to their potential – and I think he’s living up to his life potential.”
So maybe that holiday sweater doesn’t have to go in the donation pile after all. If you really want to wear it on Christmas morning, knock yourself out! And have a happy holiday.
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