Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Election Night Edition

Hi Belle! I love your blog and your practical advice.

I have a question regarding the election – more specifically, what to wear for the election night watch parties/after parties.  I work on the Hill so my boss will be hosting party and then I will be going to a larger party at a hotel downtown.  Do you have any outfit ideas that look work-appropriate but also look cute for the later part of the evening? I would like to keep with the traditional red, white and blue color scheme.

Thank you!

When you watch movies about politics, the election night parties are often glitzy affairs with cocktail dresses and high heels.  But since the common dress code at most election night parties is jeans and whatever-shirt-is-still-clean-after-three-weeks-on-the-trail, these dressy get togethers only exist in movies.  Here is some advice on what to wear on election night.

Waterproof Mascara.  Maybe you’ll win, maybe you’ll lose, but either way, you might shed a tear or two.  I like Wet n’ Wild Mega-Plump Mascara ($4) and CoverGirl Lash Blast Waterproof Mascara ($9).

Comfortable Shoes.  So it’s midnight, and your race is still too close to call.  Your feet hurt and your miserable, but you could be standing for another two to three hours, and all of the chairs in the room (all ten of them) are taken.  Talk about a rookie mistake.  

This is where flat, knee high boots are a total life saver.  I wear mine with a pair of supportive athletic socks for extra comfort.  Plus, they keep my calves warm when I’m outside during the cigarette breaks.  No, I don’t smoke, but most senior campaign staff do on election night to relieve stress.  So if you really want to know what’s going on, head outside.

Theme Attire.  As for the red, white and blue color scheme you suggest, I’m going to have to say no to that one.  Draping yourself in the colors of the flag strikes me as the definition of trying too hard.  This is an election party not a costume party.  If you must wear something patriotic, grab a flag pin or one of the $2 party hats, beaded necklaces or flags that they’ll probably hand out at your soiree.  

Want a sample outfit idea?


Dress: Vanessa Bruno Athe Grey Cable Dress ($309) // Tights: Commando Ultimate Opaque ($34) // Boots: Sofft Claremont Riding Boot ($90) // Necklace: Blu Bijoux Marble Necklace ($34) // Bag: Jovial Jaunt Tote ($99)

The formula here is pretty simple: a long-sleeved dress with a bit of structure, plus tights and boots with a nice piece of jewelry and a cool bag.  You’re still dressed well, but not overdressed.  So unless you know for certain that the dress code for an event is cocktail or business attire (in which case I would wear a pencil, a blouse and nice jacket), this should cover you through most of your celebrating or commiserating, whatever the case may be.

For the hair, I would choose a style that wears well.  You don’t know whether you’ll be up until midnight or five, so I would probably wear mine in a twisted updo.  I’d keep my makeup somewhat minimal, and play up only one feature.  So I’d either wear a bit of winged liner or a bold burgundy lipstick, but not both.  

And if you still want to wear something to commemorate this occasion, you can paint your fingernails in your party color.  If you’re a Republican, I recommend Essie Lollipop or Deborah Lippman Ruby Slipper.  For Democrats, try Butter LONDON Royal Navy or Dior Blue Label.

One Final Thing.  Make sure you have a bottle of water, a package of tissues, a pen and paper and some cash in your wallet (at least $60).  You never know where election night will take you, so be prepared.  



  1. Nina says:

    This is all great advice Belle! I would also add your cell phone/tablet charger, and (if you have room for it in your bag) a power strip. Everyone is going to be glued to twitter all night, draining their batteries. I have never had so many drinks purchased for me as when I produced a power strip in a bar in Seattle in 2010.

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    Nina-That is a solid suggestion. I couldn't agree more.

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  3. m says:

    @Nina — Hilarious and practical. I have never yet busted out my power strip at a bar, but I am a huge fan of this mini one for travel.

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  4. B says:

    Perfect answer! Its hard to fight the urge to wear heels, but you will be dead before the polls have closed. Knee boots or riding boots are a life saver for any girl working the campaign trail! I also like to pack an extra pair of tights (in case of runs), migraine medicine, a phone charger, and my on the go makeup bag for election night. Also a change of clothes never hurts to have in the car in case of any poll drama or recounts to deal with the next day or that night. Better safe than sorry.

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  5. giggling gourmand says:

    If you wanted something dressier than the boot, I could walk ten miles in these KS wedges. They couldn't be more comfortable: Actually they could. The CL Ron Ron I could walk 15 miles in, but it's damn pricy and never goes on sale. That said it matches almost any outfit so might be worth the splurge:

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  6. SS says:

    I don't know why, but it makes me sad to know that 'senior campaign staff' smoke to 'relieve stress' on election night. I mean, really? I find that habit so disgusting and am sad to know that these smart, successful people are choosing to smoke to relieve stress. I guess I just thought that was something from a bygone era. Sigh.

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  7. Caroline says:

    I love this outfit. It would be great for so many different occasions.

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  8. Meagan says:

    In the fall and winter I always wear light weight tees under sweaters whenever possible to prolong their wears between washes and keep them fresh… would you recommend doing the same with a sweater dress? or a slip?

    November 5, 2012/Reply
  9. k says:

    Do you have any other ideas for long-sleeve dresses that are not as expensive? I work in the far north of the country and something like this would be perfect, but I can't afford $300 for a dress. Thanks for your blog, it is so great!

    November 5, 2012/Reply