It’s tradition.
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As long as I can remember, Christmas smelled like sugar cookies and Chanel No. 5. It looked like twinkling lights and bright red lipstick—specifically, the Revlon tube that resided full-time in grandmother's purse. She was the most fashionable person I'd ever met. The opposite of subtle and demure, she dazzled with layers of jewelry and a loud personality, especially during the holidays. It wouldn't have mattered if we went out on Christmas Eve to our favorite Chinese restaurant, she'd still have showed up with bells on and donning sparkly shoes. Peking duck and Chanel No. 5 do make quite the Yuletide scent.

Like many Southern women, my grandmother learned from her mother to always show up with her most confident foot forward. "Dress like your arch nemesis is going to be by the cocktail meatballs," she once told me. I had a feeling that one came from personal experience. And so I grew up wanting to be just like her, wearing the same shade of red lipstick (a dream I had to retire, as it looked terrible on me) and walking in the same cloud of perfume. 

Southern Women During the Holidays
Credit: Getty Images/CoffeeAndMilk

Southern women often get thrown into a trope of being over-the-top to the point of ridiculousness, but if that's what being bold enough to wear lipstick to lunch and keeping a miniature can of hairspray in your purse at all times gets you, sign me up. Any Negative Nancies won't be singing that tune when static cling has their dress suctioned to their behinds during church. (Hairspray is great for that.)

Dressing up for Christmas dinner like you're heading to a wedding—despite the fact that those in attendance are just your crazy family members and the labrador retriever—isn't silly. It's just being prepared for all scenarios. It's getting gussied up not because of who is going to be there, but because it makes the whole night feel more special. And if my grandmother taught me anything, it's to make every holiday memorable. 

That's why Southern women will always overdress during the holidays, even this year when celebrations might be muted and gatherings more intimate. It's just tradition. 

Personally, I plan to show up with hair curled and a shiny lipstick tube tucked into my pocket.