4725mag's daily fashion essentials: experiments in dressing for the holidays

It's five days until Christmas. Where did this year go? This past week, it's been a full agenda of having a good time - a work party, a blogger brunch and the Christmas equivalent of Friendsgiving dinner with a bunch of pals.

On this rainy Oakland Sunday, I'm taking it upon myself to keep warm and dry by sharing my favorite outfit of the past week of party with you. Just you.

I've tried on a million, ok a couple of hundred, combinations of sequined, faux furred and be-glittered items from my closet, but this is the one that just felt the most right. The most festive without straight up draping myself in baubles and also the most luxe. With layers of gorgeous texture and a little polyester thrown in for good measure. 

Feline fine, rawr.

So this ensemble is truly built around this sweater. Doing my feel-good bit for charity this holiday season, I invested in this cashmere sweater (yep, this is an investment piece I've worn a massive one time) by Charlotte Olympia and Karen Elson. A hearty chunk of the price of this sweater is donated to Save The Children, a charity from my native Britain. So in purchasing this you can look good and feel good.

You think I'd want to keep it simple and let this puppy, or should I say kitten, shine. But I felt like because it can hold it's own so perfectly, I could have even more fun with what I paired it with.

So firstly jewelry. Lots of jewelry. Playing with both matte and shiny golds, minimal and more overtly glam styles, faux emeralds and textured spikes, I played off the gold accent in the sweater by dousing my fingers and ears in even more gold.

I went with an assortment of pieces, some I've had for a long time and some more recent purchases. I picked up the hand crafted, muted gold, stackable rings shown above center from Kitkitdizzi in Nevada City, CA. and these circular earrings below, from OAK + FORT, were purchased over my cyber week/weekend shopping binge and are still available.

So what do you pair masses of jewelry and an emerald green cashmere, gold sequined sweater with? You layer a vintage plaid shirt - that for the record, cost $1 from the San Pablo flea market - underneath it, obviously. And then tuck both of them into a leather skirt.

Mine is from Banana Republic, bought earlier this year but I've linked you a bunch of currently available options - that have NYE written all over them - above.

Ok. Now we need a bag. But not just any old bag - something with a personality all of its own that can hang with Bruce the cheetah that's adorning my chest. Cue this Yves Saint Laurent clutch.

I scored this at the Yves Saint Laurent outlet outside of Florence (yep, the one in Italy) 11 years ago, and I dust it off both when I want to make a statement and when I just need a neutral clutch. It can be the star of the show and it can sit back and not selfishly compete with an overall look. It works for a bunch of different occasions and that night was one of them.

Sooooo, now I've just got to put some shoes on and I'm good to go.  But I'm at fork in the road - do I grab my black Chelsea boots and call it a day? Or, do I play with the element of sparkle I have going on up top and balance it out with some sparkle my tootsies can call their own?

Um, clearly, I'm going with the latter.

These party boots from ASOS in a cool silver feel like the perfect, plussed up version of a neutral this outfit needs to top it off a treat. As a whole, I love the clashing colors and textures of this experiment in dressing. It should feel like a big pile of wrong, however, it just feels so right.

The moral of this story? Pattern mix, texture mix and embrace accessories. You'll wade through a few hot messes, but when you get the balance just right, you've struck personal style gold. And, NO ONE at the party will be wearing the same thing as you. Guaranteed.

Now, go party safe and party stylishly, see you in 2016. Warm and happy holiday wishes,


4725mag eats: our foolproof and potluck perfect holiday side dish - brown sugar + nutmeg sweet potato mash

If you're anything like us and our family + friends, the holidays are all about sharing the responsibility and more to the point, the work. No one is ever expected to provide an entire feast from start to finish. If you're invited, you're bringing something. Even if it is just a six pack of beer.

This is one of my go-to dishes for these occasions. It is easy to make, its flavors are warming and apt for the season and it feels indulgent but you're still filling your daily vitamin A, C and fiber quotas. 

Ingredients, serves 12:
- 4 large sweet potatoes, about albs
- 1/2 a cup of raw brown sugar
- 3 tbsp of butter or if you're making this vegan, veggie shortening
- 1 tbsp of freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp of freshly ground ginger
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon
- 1 tsp of coarsely ground pepper
- 1 tsp of sea salt 

Equipment needed to make this recipe, and life in the kitchen in general, easier:
- Hand held blender and large mixing bowl, or a food processor
- 2 QT baking dish
- Baking sheet 
- Mini grater for the fresh ginger and nutmeg 

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, wash any filth off your sweet potatoes and then prod those suckers generously with a fork. Once your oven has reached 350, cook them on your baking sheet for 35-45 minutes, or until they're soft to the touch. These look a little shriveled and unappetizing (especially that phallic one), but bear with me - the more wrinkled they are, the easier it is to literally tear their skins off to leave you with mashable, soft and brilliant orange sweet potato meat. Just let them cool for 15 minutes first though so you don't also lose the skin off your fingers trying to handle these hot puppies. 

Besides, this gives you time to portion out your nutmeg, ginger, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Feel free to pop to Safeway in your sweats to buy the ground nutmeg and fresh ginger if grating it yourself feels (rightly so) like too much work. 

Now, melt the butter in the microwave for approx. 30 seconds - or the stove top if you're so, more health consciously inclined. When it is fully molten, stir in the nutmeg, ginger, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Once that's done, the potatoes will have sufficiently cooled and it's time to tear their skins off. This will be super easy to do, they will literally fall off in your hands. It will take about 5 minutes, it will feel oddly satisfying and it will set you up for the final, hands-on stage in making this dish. 

Pro, *ahem*, tip: If you're using a hand held blender to whip up this mash, just add one naked spud to the molten butter and spice mix at a time. Going at this pace will ensure you don't get any big chunks that aren't properly and smoothly mixed in. 

If you're using a food processor, you have the luxury of throwing everything in at once. 

Now, spoon your deliciously whipped brown sugar + nutmeg sweet potato mash into your baking dish and finish her off at 350 for another 30-40 minutes for the top to brown ever so slightly. 

As this magic happens, get your glad-rags on before topping this off with another good crack of black pepper and heading out to your gathering. 

Final "pro" tip: Don't forget to take a serving spoon with you. No matter how wonderful your host, they do not have 12 extra big spoons hanging around their kitchen. This minimal effort on your part will give them one last thing to think about and will be super appreciated. 

We hope you and yours enjoy this as much as me and mine to. Bon appetit!


4725mag's on-point interiors: Danish design pop-up hosted by Oakland's Japanese kitchen + barware importers, Umami Mart

Typically, in Umami Mart's own words, "a curation of bar tools and glassware from Japan, as well as a bottle shop dedicated to sake and Japanese beer", this Oakland based boutique is stocking a gorgeous collection of ceramics and holiday trinkets from Danish makers Studio Arhoj for your holiday gift shopping pleasure.

Striking a rare balance between simplicity, modernity and personality - for the record, I've never found myself thinking that ceramics have personality, but these do. In droves - these functional and decorative storage pieces will bring life to any kitchen or bathroom counter top. 

Looking to add a hint of kitsch-yet-sleek (thanks to that muted gold) and effortlessly stylish Scandinavian design to your holiday decorating? These tree ornaments have you covered. 

So fricken cute, they're sure to please everyone in your family. From young kids to maybe even putting a smile on the face of a critical aunt or a curmudgeon-y, bah humbug-ing and probably drunk, twice removed uncle. 

Beautiful pen holders-come-vases will make for a lovely little gift with all year round appeal. Better still, buy a couple and have an insta-gift for that birthday gathering you're going to be invited to with little to zero warning in the spring. 

Stop by Umami Mart between now and December 24th to check out this unique collection for yourself. We can almost guarantee that you will not leave empty handed.