Celebrity Stylist Ilaria Urbinati’s Guide to Holiday Dressing for Men

The holiday’s can strike fear into any able-bodied man’s heart. Mom asking why you’re still single. Dad asking when you’re going to get a promotion. Your siblings being generally annoying. Maybe the weather cooperates, maybe it doesn’t. Regardless you will likely have a number of different occasions to dress for – Christmas or Hanukkah meals, reunions with friends, New Year’s Eve with that special someone – and you’ve got to look on pointe. In many cases you won’t be seeing these folks until the next holiday season; so leave a good lasting impression. We go straight to the source – celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati – were we get the top tips,  ‘how-to’s’ and examples on some of her guys.

iliaria urbinatis some effort.

Many would argue that the holidays are a good excuse to put in a little more effort – do you agree?

There’s a lot going on as far as parties and what not so it’s a good excuse to get dressed up and put in some effort.

How do you not embarrass yourself at an office holiday party?? How can you look professional without over doing it?

I don’t think you can ever overdo it in a simple winter suit, and you can dress it down with no tie and a more wintery rugged pair of boots.

Any opinions of the infamous holiday sweaters? Did your parents torture you with one when younger?

No way, I grew up in Italy. There’s no ugly Christmas sweater tradition in Italy that I’m aware of! Everyone got dressed up in my family – for Christmas dinner and so on – no excuses.

I do love a good sweater – I remember a few years back Burberry did some amazing well-fitted Fair Isle men’s sweaters that were my favorite holiday sweaters. They were like a stylist take on the Christmas sweater. J. crew always makes some good ones too. Any well fitting Fair Isle is always cool for the holidays.

illaria urbinatis different dresses

How do you dress for holiday parties if you’re in the tropics? How can you be festive and weather appropriate??

That’s a tough one. It’s hard not to look like a silly santa in Hawaii parody. I would say just embrace the island life and just stick with that, like with singer Ross Lynch below. Lighter materials are key.

illaria urbinatis reds suit with black shoe

For women – the holidays usually mean adding sparkle or glitter – is there a men’s equivalent that instantly signals festive?

Just wearing reds or greens drives the point Home in a more subtle way. I just dressed Dwayne Johnson in an awesome red Burberry sweater for a very festive episode of Ellen that airs this week. And Kevin Hart came on with him and his stylist put him in an awesome red wool Paul Smith suit. They both looked very Holiday party appropriate and still handsome without looking silly.  And again – can never have too much Fair Isle! A good woodsy flannel works too.

Any big trends in holiday dressing right now?

I’m obsessed with velvet suiting for men in general right now. You’ll be seeing it a lot from me over awards season, I’m guessing. And Alessandro Sartori at Zegna just did some gorgeous brocade suiting and even bomber jackets that I styled on Garrett Hedlund and James Marsden that I loved. The trick with brocade is to keep it close in tones so it’s not too loud.

menswear illaria urbinatis suit

Is holiday dressing an excuse to throw on some jewelry or accessories? Some would argue the right accessories can dress up an outfit – do you agree?

I always love a little man jewelry all year round. David Yurman is my go-to. I love a simple gold chain, some rings – even pinky rings. I love a little 70’s Guido (I can say that because I’m Italian).

New Years Eve weddings have become a big trend. As it’s a wedding and a super flashy evening – how should guys dress for these?

Usually a tuxedo is appropriate here. Depends on the wedding’s dress code. A dark suit or tux with a topcoat is always elegant and handsome. Can’t go wrong.

illaria urbinatis one suit and dress shoe

Many people travel for the holidays – do you have any packing tips to share? 

Don’t over pack – that’s first. Most people go visit family and end up longing around in their PJs the whole time anyway. I think a couple of good sweaters, one coat – something classic like a pea coat that goes with everything is good. A solid pair of boots like some Redwings or Wolverines – I also like RM Williams and M Gemi. And one suit and dress shoe is plenty. Plus of course some nice loungewear that doesn’t look too much like you’ve wandered in off the street.

illaria urbinatis shoe

Any brands that you think are nailing the holiday offerings?

Ralph Lauren for some plaids and some cable knit sweaters. Isaia has some insanely gorgeous winter coats. Burberry did amazing plaid pants this year that I’m obsessed with.

illaria urbinatis gorgeous winters suit

Is there an item most guys are missing in their wardrobes that you think they should have? One item that for whatever reason, guys don’t think of purchasing that might up their game?

A velvet black bow tie always ups the ante on a simple tux. The tux doesn’t have to be velvet. And every guy should own a great watch. My go-to’s are IWC, Montblanc, Breitling, Vacheron Constantin, and Panerai. And of course a vintage Rolex is always dope. Ok I have a lot of watch go-to’s. Shinola makes some great affordable ones as well that make great gifts. I did a collab with Montblanc on a leather weekender bag that works great as a gym bag or a carry-on. That’s always a good fancy gift.

illaria urbinatis watch

I’m dreaming of a deep green velvet tux….

Check Her Out

Ilaria Urbinati was born in Rome and raised in Paris. She started out in fashion at eighteen working for her aunt, designer Laura Urbinati, growing to become a buyer and manager for Laura’s West Hollywood boutique. During her 3 years at the store, Ilaria helped make the store a fashion icon—it was the first store on the west coast to carry designers like Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons and Helmut Lang. From there she became the buyer and manager for Satine, where she helped transform that store into a Los Angeles hotspot by introducing brands like Stella McCartney and Roland Mouret, while throwing events that drew top celebrities and industry tastemakers. She continued on to buyer and manager of Milk, where she again traveled to fashion weeks in New York City and Paris to secure the up and coming trends for the boutique. In the fall of 2008, Ilaria opened her own store, Confederacy, where she served as COO, co-owner and buyer. The store was an instant success, catering to prominent celebrities and musicians in addition to the growing fashion scene in Los Feliz. Her increased demand from freelance and celebrity clientele skyrocketed, and she made the decision to close the store at the end of 2013.

Along with her retail experience, Ilaria has achieved great success in design collaborations. She teamed with Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes to create a limited edition line of suits. The line was written up in every major men’s magazine including GQDetails and Esquire, in addition to being the most prominent line worn by Ryan Gosling’s character in the feature film Crazy Stupid Love. There was such a demand that the line sold out almost immediately, prompting Ilaria and Albert to collaborate on a second season, which also quickly sold out. Ilaria also co-designed Rebecca Minkoff’s women’s line for 2 seasons, as well as styled her runway presentations. She has also collaborated with Gucci and Ferragamo on custom designs for Bradley Cooper, Armie Hammer and Chris Evans.

Since establishing herself as a force within the industry, top magazines and photographers began looking to Ilaria for their shoots and campaigns. Ilaria styled fashion stories for American magazines like GQWELLEInStyleV MagazineLucky and Details, as well as international publications like M: Le magazine du MondeL’Optimumi-DGQ Italia and InStyle UK. She has collaborated with photographers such as Ryan McGinley, Carter Smith, Norman Jean Roy, Mark Seliger and Guy Aroch, among others. The press also took note of her talents, writing profiles on her in WELLETIMEWWDLos Angeles Times MagazineThe New York Times MagazineVMANL’Uomo VogueE! Online and Good Morning America, to name a few.

With such outstanding fashion credentials, it’s no surprise that Ilaria has exploded in the celebrity world. She was Head Costume Designer for the first season of The L Word and has custom designed tour wardrobe for music clients Plain White T’s, Alanis Morissette and Lady Antebellum. Her consistent and ever-growing celebrity clientele includes Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans, Bruce Willis, Ryan Reynolds, Armie Hammer, James Marsden, Will Arnett, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, James Van Der Beek, Ty Burrell, Ian Somerhalder, Theo James, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Ben Affleck, Shailene Woodley, Nina Dobrev, Leighton Meester, Juliette Lewis, Marisa Tomei, Lizzy Caplan, and Laura Dern.