Holiday parties are one of my favourite parts of the holiday season! We don’t have that many opportunities to dress up anymore (curse you, ultra casual globe.) and it is lovely to be a little fancier than normal. While I love my ugly Christmas sweaters more than most people, I do really love going with good cocktail attire. It can feel a little bit daunting to receive an invitation for a semi-formal Christmas party when you normally don’t attend anything that requires semi-formal/formal attire other than weddings. “Do I need to look Christmas-y?” “Can I wear black?” “What is formal enough?” Today I am sharing my tips on putting together your holiday party outfits, and having some fun with it!
I am a big fan of acknowledging the holidays in your attire when you are getting dressed for a holiday party. I am all for subtlety- you don’t need to be wearing a Christmas tree dress or bright green tights. A simple nod will do! I also think it is the perfect time to recognise your own holiday, so if you celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or any other cultural celebrations, bring that in. My goal today is that you hopefully can put together your holiday party outfits from what is already in your closet and minimise purchases, and to just have fun with it! Styling should be fun and enjoyable, not stressful.
A quick note: if your host/hostess does not tell you what the dress code is (because location does not always imply a specific dress code), quickly check with them to ensure you are on the right page. There is nothing like showing up in jeans and sweater when everyone else is in cocktail attire, and vice versa.
1) Use Separates
I find it much easier to put a holiday outfit together if I can use separates rather than a dress or jumpsuit. I mean, I own several red dresses myself that work well for holiday parties, but if you are looking to make holiday party outfits from what you own, it is easier to dress up neutral pieces that you already own. I would recommend starting with a neutral either on the top or the bottom. In this combination right here, the black merino sweater is cozy and perfect for a winter party, and pairs perfectly with the black details in the skirt. And the burgundy is enough red to be a nod to the holidays while not screaming “Christmas” for the rest of the year. This outfit is also perfect for when you don’t know how formal or informal the event will be!
2) Colour is Important
As I mentioned above, colours are key! Even if you think that you are the epitome of French chic and insist on only wearing all black ensembles, holiday parties are the time to break that trend. Showing up to a holiday party in all black can very much be a sombre note to an otherwise fun event. (Think Queen Victoria after 1861…) I typically go with red because it is a prominent colour in my wardrobe and I wear it on a near daily basis. People often ask me if they have to be Christmas-y at a Christmas party- no, you don’t! If you celebrate another holiday, you can certainly wear the colours associated it- that is a wonderful way to represent your own beliefs while staying in the holiday spirit. Or if you just really love jewel tones, head in that direction. In any case, try to avoid being entirely sombre, even if it is just a colourful scarf or cardigan!
3) It’s All About the Details
This is the perfect time to highlight your favourite items in your wardrobe, and what makes them different. Winter, and the holidays specifically, are a fantastic time to bring out those lux fabrics, those lace details, those brocades! Way back when, we all would have worn our luxurious pieces and jewelled opera capes to the theatre (can someone bring opera capes back, please??). Now, we have holiday parties to feel like royalty!
I’ve paired my black brocade skirt with a sequined red tank, usually worn with my black blazer. The skirt is perfectly luxurious but the tank and blazer modernise it and make it a little more fun! (I try not to buy sequins now due to the environmental effect, but I bought this years ago and want to get as much use out of it as possible.) I also love tying a velvet ribbon in my hair or wearing a necklace that is a little “much” for work. Small changes like that can add those special touches!
I’ve noticed that holiday collections are hitting the stores now, so if you looking for some good semi-formal pieces, take a look! A lot of my favourite pieces have come from holiday collections but don’t actually scream “Christmas/ New Year’s/ Holidays”, and there are going to be some amazing sales in the next few weeks.