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story.lead_photo.caption (India Garrish/News Tribune) Mattie Grace Boutique Owner Sheila Berhorst shows a cardigan Nov. 10 with button accents. Clothing items like cardigans can be a great transitional piece into the winter months.

It's time. We've lived in pajamas for too long, and with the holidays right around the corner, it's the perfect opportunity to break out those heels and that sparkly dress.

But that sounds like a lot of effort.

For those of us who enjoy our loungewear, we're in luck — and in style.

Put that confining, scratchy dress back in the closet for another season and grab your oversized, soft sweater because comfort is trending, and shouldn't it always be?

"Even if something is really cute, if it's not comfortable, it's not trending," said Cheri Willett, owner of Dogwood Boutique located inside Dogwood Vintiques on Missouri Boulevard. "So that's the challenge sometimes — finding something that's dressy and fashionable but also with that comfort."

It's a challenge Willett and her daughters, Tiffany Shivers and Makenna Morgan who help run the store, readily accept.

"You can take your looser, more comfy styles and dress them up by adding jewelry or a cardigan," Willett said. "People are tired of living in their pajamas; they've done that long enough. So even loungewear is getting dressier. That comfort in style is here to stay."

Sheila Berhorst, owner of Mattie Grace Boutique on Jefferson Street, echoed that sentiment, noting even when customers are looking for something a step above jeans and a sweater, it has to meet that cozy factor.

Dresses, for example, tend to be on the looser side with soft fabric — and pockets are a must.

"Women's clothes just don't have enough pockets," Berhorst said.

After working from home for so long during the pandemic, casual dresses allow women to feel a bit dressier heading back to the office while still packing that comfortable punch, she said.

Small details or embellishments on cozier attire also help give it that more fashionable look, Berhorst noted, holding up a slouchy, long-sleeved, soft cotton top with a strip of black sequins across the chest or a simple, oversized black sweater with a silky leopard-print pocket.

A carry-over from the last few years, Willett and Berhorst said, leopard print remains in style in tops and accessories. Berhorst added red buffalo plaid items have also been hot sellers at Mattie Grace.

Keeping with the cozy vibe, Willett said vintage looks are also en vogue.

The current top seller at Dogwood Boutique is the "shacket," which is a combination of a shirt and a jacket — heavy enough to keep you warm on a fall day but meant to be worn unbuttoned with a shirt underneath. It comes in trendy corduroy and flannel.

She said the shacket gives a "grungy, 1980s-90s vibe" that's been back in fashion lately.

Also hearkening back to the 80s and 90s are bleached or tie-dyed T-shirts and sweaters, distressed fabrics and mom jeans.

"We're still in transition here," Willett said. "Trends trickle down to us in the middle of the state. We still like our skinny jeans and jeggings from past years, but the relaxed look is coming in, too."

Unlike the jeans from past generations, modern mom jeans are made from a more comfortable, stretchy fabric but still feature the iconically "mom" high-waisted, relaxed look.

Add in some rips and distressed fringe and you're in style, Willett said, explaining younger generations tend to prefer the ripped, distressed look a bit more than older women.

Similarly, light wash jeans are also more trendy for younger women, like her daughters who are in their 20s and early 30s. Willett, however, tends to lean more toward jeans in a darker color.

And no outfit is complete without accessories.

Willett likes to complete her looks with stacking bracelets, allowing you to mix and match styles and add or take away pieces to change up the look.

At Mattie Grace, Berhorst said long necklaces and earrings are popular, especially those made of different materials like clay or wood. She also sells earrings that feature the trendy leopard and red buffalo plaid patterns.

When it comes to necklaces, Berhorst said you can't beat the comfortable yet trendy look of a long, patterned cardigan with a solid T-shirt underneath and a long necklace to tie the look together — perfect for weekend wear or even a casual work environment, and definitely a step above pajamas.

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