+ Three Ways

Two Ways: Holiday Party Looks, Part One


Dress: Juicy Couture Ponte Minidress with Lace Back ($115)

From Left, Earrings: AV Max Cluster Earring ($55) Sash: J.Crew Rhinestone Encrusted Sash ($265) Bag: BCBG Harlow Clutch ($78) Shoes: French Sole Fresh Flat ($107)

From Right, Ring: OdlR Pave Stone Ring ($250) Bag: Vince Camuto Onyx Clutch ($168) Shoes: Michael Kors Suede Pump ($130) Necklace: Stella & Dot Virginia Necklace ($298) Tights: Hue Ultimate Opaque Tights ($9)

For a House Party.  Now that I’m in my thirties, most of the holiday gatherings I attend are at people’s homes.  Dressing for a dinner party or house party can mean jeans and a sweater or it can mean something a bit nicer.  So if you’re attending a party at someone’s home that’s not quite cocktail, but not casual, this is the kind of outfit I recommend.

Pairing a minidress with flats relaxes the look, and gives it a bit of a retro feel.  I chose to add the jeweled sash to give the front a little something extra without adding a lot of bling.  I like the way the black satin and black rhinestones looks together.

If you like the look of a rhinestone belt, but can’t reason paying over-$200 for it, take a black ribbon and a brooch to it. You could also add a black leather bow belt in either patent or rhinestone depending on your taste.

I chose a simple black clutch and drop earrings to complete the look.  I prefer black earrings over sparkly ones so that the sequins on the belt can take center stage.  This clutch is a great under-$100 all purpose bag, but if you already own a chain strap bag, this would be a good time to carry that.

I’d also wear bare legs because I prefer them with flats.  Tights can look a little school girl-ish.  So I’d need to apply a little bit of self-tanner to my legs.  I like the Kate Somerville wipes.

For the makeup, I would go the French route and paint my nails a bright red with a sheer red lip and gold shimmer eyes with thick black liner.  For the hair, I would wear it up in a twist or a low bun.

For Holiday Cocktails.  This outfit is a bit more festive, but it’s designed to be worn out to the bar, so it’s not overly holiday.  I like the idea of a large ribbon necklace like this one to jazz up the boring black front of the dress.  If you like the look of ribbon and jewels, but you don’t want to spend $300 on it, this necklace from Banana Republic is $80.

I chose a ring to add a bit more sparkle.  The necklace is so bold that earrings would be overkill, and a bracelet still feels like too much, unless it’s a simple enamel or resin bangle.

I chose this clutch for its clean lines and elegant clasp.  It might be a bit small for some of you, so if you like the look of a box clutch, but need a bit more space, try this one.  Other than that, I finished the outfit off with a simple black tight and a suede pump. 

For the hair, I would wear it half-up and half-down, curled into waves.  For the makeup, I would wear a sheer burgundy or berry lip gloss with a purple nail.

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  1. Kristiina says:

    Hi Belle–I have a similar black dress that I got for a holiday work party that I plan to wear with suede black pumps…should I wear stockings or can I go bare legged? I bought a sheer pair today with a small herring bone pattern, but find it's easier to walk in my pumps sans stockings….I believe the invite said it was “cocktail attire”…thanks for all the great info/posts!

    December 4, 2012/Reply
  2. Holiday says:

    I never know what to do bra-wise with a lace-back dress. I hate those cuppy things that stick to your chest- I don't find they really DO anything. Is there an alternative?

    December 4, 2012/Reply
  3. Liz says:

    I love the look of no tights, but for the winter holidays isn't that a little… cold? Does this mean a 'no' for pantyhose as well? That outfit is adorable, but I can't see myself hurdling a snow drift after getting out of a cab in it.

    December 4, 2012/Reply
  4. Kelly says:

    @Liz: Wearing tights will always make you warmer because if you think about it, it's not just a layer of nylon over your legs (which, in itself isn't as warm as pants would be), but it's an extra layer on top of everything else, too. So if you're wearing tights, that's layer one. Then you wear the dress over that. That's two layers, even if it's just your thighs and backside that get the extra layer since your calves/shins will probably be exposed. Adding a coat makes it three layers. And the more layers the better in the winter time, I say. That's Winter 101. Bare legs can't give you that. Plus, tights just sort of hold everything together. It's like under armor for your legs. Sure, they're not warm by themselves, but who wears just tights anyways? It's the layering that makes them warm. Not the tights themselves.

    December 4, 2012/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    RE tights, no tights: I sometimes go without tights in the winter. I don't notice a difference in temp. Some people do. If you choose no tights, you need to take steps to make it look good–shaving, a little tanner (not a lot, just a kiss to tone down the pale, you can even just throw a bit of foundation or bronzer into your body lotion).

    Holiday: If a Nubra isn't for you, Sassybax makes a bra that sticks to your sides, but has real cups. https://ow.ly/fPyil

    December 5, 2012/Reply
  6. balmoralgirl says:

    I have pierced ears and don't like the feel or look of having no earrings in the piercings (I have two on one ear and one on the other – and yes, I work in a political office). Typically, I wear a very small diamond stud in the top piercing and would go with small diamond studs in the others for your cocktail look as well, but you have a good argument on the over-bling factor. What are your thoughts about pierced ears with no earrings or what to wear in a case like this if, like me, you can't abide the thought of empty holes? I also have a pixie cut, so my ears are always on display…

    December 5, 2012/Reply
  7. Joanna says:

    I Have a similar Black dress that I would to wear for a holiday house party and I think it's a bit dressy, so I would like to dress it down too but I don't want to wear flats! Is there another way to dress the dress and wear heels? thanks.

    December 7, 2012/Reply