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Here Comes Santa Claus

This holiday season, Santa’s famous reindeers Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the gang are going to think they’re hallucinating that the Big Guy from the North Pole has been miniaturized and multiplied all over the country.

Well, it’s no mind trick – there are going to be literally millions of Santas on the streets, out shopping, partying and lying by the fireside in homes across America as pets of all shapes and sizes don their Claus clothes to celebrate the festive season. Simply put, fashion wise, Santa outfits are going to be really big – that’s really big this year! And they’re going to be accessorized with little black boots and fur trimmed hats. The Santa outfit from Theo Ehf in Reykjavik, Iceland is a replica of the traditional suit complete with the little black belt.

“It was a major hit last holiday season and we were completely sold out. We’re expecting a repeat performance again this year,” says company spokesperson Thora Bjork Ottesen. “Interestingly, they were extremely popular in Florida. So climate is definitely not a factor when it comes to their wearability.”

The Los Angeles-based I See Spot label is gender-bending their traditional suit and producing a Mrs. Claus dress is red stretch velvet trimmed with fur that laces up at the back. The Mr. Claus companion outfit has a matching white fur trim. Both are sleeveless. “People are very traditional when it comes to their pets”, says Sandy Maroney, the fashion force behind the label. “While they may shop for a variety of outfits for the holidays, pet lovers are setting a trend by buying a Santa outfit every year. We’ve used stretch velvet to emphasis the comfort factor.”

“This season, apart from super-fancy Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus outfits, some with lots of detailed embellishments too, winter coats with hook-attachments that double as harnesses with leashes to match are going to make a strong street wear statement,” says Kim Walker, owner of the upscale Mod Dog Boutique in Aventura, Florida.”

Both Bjork Ottesen and Maroney endorse this forecast and already there is a fashion flurry from retailers everywhere to stock up on padded windbreakers and faux fur-lined coats in a variety of colors. “Our windbreakers have a special mesh lining that prevents fur from tangling and matting,” explains Bjork Ottesen. “We have also produced a coat with two belts to give the appearance of two totally different outfits. While our padded snow overall has a reflective strip to add visibility for night time strolls.” Despite strong traditional tones to the season, some designers are tweaking it a bit.

“We’ve teamed cherry red with lime green and added jeweled bones and ribbons for a festive touch,” says Fred Pannek, Vice President of Product Development at Mud Pie in Atlanta, Georgia. “Simple T-shirts are always top sellers and we’ve added appropriate slogans like ‘Santa, we need to talk…’ and ‘Santa Paws, I’ve been dog-gone good!’ They also work well with Santa hats with pom-poms and decorations.”

Maroney agrees. “For casual wear, the festive pup will be wearing T-shirts with standard holiday slogans that celebrate, Christmas, Chanukah and the New Year. We pack them in gift sets. They make great stocking stuffers.”

“Well-dressed pups need a variety of outfits for the many different occasions the holidays bring,” says Stephanie Bell, owner of Fancy Furs in Lexington, Kentucky. “They need fun outfits for shopping sprees, lunching with friends, black-tie parties and other holiday festivities. In fact, the posh pet’s closet should mirror its owner’s closet. You never know when a last minute invitation arrives in the mail.”

So expect pups in tuxedos to strut their stuff and accompany pooch pals in frothy combinations of netting and lace, silk and chiffon in hot pink and basic black, ruched and ruffled and belted – with diamanté buckles of course. There are nothing like rhinestones and Swarovski crystals to add glamour and glitz and “embellish” is definitely the buzzword amongst designers this season as collars go heavily encrusted, T-shirts are appliquéd and hair accessories twinkle and sparkle match.

Other must-have party accessories include jezebelle collars featuring a frothy collection of chiffon ribbons, lace, organza, sequins and satin in traditional red and green as well as gold and lots and lots of pink. They look good on any creature with four paws and a tail. And pet fashionistas will agree – what’s a party season without party hats! “They are an hot item for the holidays,” confirms Sherri Stankewitz of Golddiggers in Lomita, California.

“They are lightweight and come in all sizes festooned with flowers and glitter and netting. Angel wings that strap on will be another festive touch for the partying pup.”

As actress Elizabeth Taylor and the late Duchess of Windsor, the former Mrs. Wallace Simpson have proved, it’s impossible to own too much jewelry. The trend in expensive real jewelry for pets from doggie diamonds and pearls to items featuring a myriad of semi-precious stones continues. Real gold bone-shaped charms with pavé diamonds are definitely a sign that mommy or daddy got a juicy bone-us check again this year! While a delicate diamanté chain with pavé-encrusted hearts is uni-pet and stylish on both dogs and cats. Pearls are a must-have item to compliment any outfit. Necklaces that have an attachment for engraved tag that hold vital identity information allow pets to be both safe and stylish.

“When it comes to jewelry, safety is a major objective,” says Laura Thompson Temple of Fifiany and Co of Society Hill in Philadelphia. “I recommend embellished collars where the beads are flat and sewn directly on to the collar.” Temple’s range of necklaces in beaded semi-precious stones feature a variety of colors and are designed to co-ordinate with her collection of designer coats, hats and scarf ensembles. Her double-stranded pearls and crystal necklaces are particularly popular with cat-owners to adorn their fancy felines. This holiday season she’s cracking it up another notch with her new Hooker and Jones line of handmade customized collars that will be marketed in high-end pet boutiques. “It’s wearable art for pets,” says Thompson Temple. Ooh la la! Pets are going to be trés chic this season.