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If there's one time of year that begs for a new outfit, it's the holidays. Pull off this season's fabulous formal trends with tips from an expert.

Believe it or not, it's that time of year again. It's the time of year to dust off your dancing shoes and prepare for another festive season. If you're in the market to shop for something new to wear to all your holiday events, then heed our helpful advice before you hit the shops. Robin Keeler, fashion director at Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre, offers up helpful tips for finding the perfect holiday dress.

"Designers are currently having a love affair with dresses," says Keeler. And for every body type, she says, there is a flattering dress. "A fitted garment reveals the form of the body while loose garments disguise the shape underneath." But no matter what, nothing makes a dress look richer than a great fit.

The styles
This year, dresses remain strong, says Keeler. The looks are classic and confident, harkening back to a time gone by. Drawing inspiration from dresses from the ‘50s and ‘60s, this season's dresses have a retro flair but are updated with modern touches, details and embellishments. "Styles are curve-conscious and ultra-feminine," says Keeler. "Think fuller skirts, classic lines, refined."

The trends
According to Keeler, short, knee-, midcalf- and full-length dresses are all on trend this season. "The most popular length will be just above or just below the knee," she says. "This length seems to complement the majority of women. However dresses will go from the floor right up to mid thigh."

Popular fabrics run the gamut from silk and satin to chiffon, crepe and organza -- the usual holiday suspects. And when it comes to colour, Keeler says elegant jewel tones, shimmering metallics and claret red will all dominate, however black is still a party favourite.

The black dress
The versatile black dress is a holiday classic. "Day to night, the little black dress can be classic, elegant, sleek, sexy and slimming," says Keeler. But before you decide on any old black outfit, she offers the following advice:

-Look for details that flatter your body, such as waist details to optimize an hourglass shape, and pick a length around the knee for the most versatile look.

-Keep the legs bare or wear very sheer hose for the dressiest look.

-The little black dress carries accessories well so don't be afraid to embellish.

-The black dress is the perfect choice when you don't know what to wear or can't decide!

Holiday dresses: 7 dos and don'ts
Robin Keeler offers seven tips to help you find the party dress that's just right for you and how to wear it with style.

Do try on lots of different styles, cuts, lengths, colours and fabrics so you get a better idea of what looks good on you before you buy.

When shopping for a dress, do take along the appropriate underwear and shoes for trying on different clothes. Every dress requires the right underwear, so invest in it if you don't own it.

Do go easy when puttin' on the glitz -- (sparkle, shimmer, glitter, and shine). Know when enough is enough. One piece will usually do the trick.

Do consider body shapers. They are a great way to go if you want to have a smooth, jiggle-free look.

If you are unsure about going with something trendy, do try to find a dress that reflects classic, timeless elegance. Remember that you'll have to look at photos of yourself in the dress for years to come.

Do the cost-per-wear formula if you want to stay on budget: How much is the dress, plus projected dry cleaning costs, divided by how many times you will wear it in a year? Is this a good buy for you?

Do accessorize with the latest:
-Shoes: strapped sandals with jewels or velvet pumps
-Bag: a velvet, sparkle or satin clutch
-Jewelry: the chandelier earring, bejeweled necklaces and large jeweled bangle bracelets

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