AdviceStyle + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Belle’s Favorite Holiday Party Attire

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DvF Lace Cocktail Dress ($325) // Aqua Polka Dot Illusion Dress ($188) // ABS Silver Sequin Cocktail Dress ($112, limited sizes) // Halogen Fit and Flare ($77)

Every November, my e-mail account is flooded with ladies asking for holiday party attire advice.  So this year, I thought I would try to get ahead of the barrage and post some timeless suggestions.  Here are my favorite holiday looks?

Be Bold, Wear Red.  The holiday season is a great time to wear red.  It’s fun and festive, vibrant and sexy.  You’re guaranteed to stand out for all the right reasons in this DvF lace dress, but if it’s too rich for your bank account, this Adrianna Papell dress is a dead-ringer for less-than-half the price.  I also like this space-age, thoroughly modern dress from Topshop and this sculpted, sleeveless dress from J.Crew Factory.

Plus-size?  The neckline on this Melissa Massey dress can be demure or sultry, off-the-shoulder.  Petite?  This cut-out Amanda Uprichard dress is fun.

Not sure you’re ready for red?  Try burgundy instead.  This Adrianna Papell dress has a flare skirt and a sheer yoke.  And this Catharine Malandrino dress has a crochet embroidery that is just to die for.

Sheer Illusion is a god-send for conservative after work events (law firm holiday parties, symphony with the parents, etc.), and this Aqua dress is a great choice.  If you want your sheer with a bit more sex appeal, this Bailey 44 Decompression Mesh dress is just the ticket.  Want something truly ladylike?  Check out this Megan dress from J.Crew, which could really benefit from a jeweled belt.

Plus-size?  This Donna Ricco illusion yoke sheath is a good choice for winter and spring. Petite?  Check out this long-sleeve Ivy & Blu dress with a peplum waist.

Don’t Be Afraid of Sequins.  It can be tough to pull off sequins without looking like a Real Housewife, but it can be done.  I like this long-sleeve ABS dress, and this long-sleeve minidress from Dress the Revolution, for the woman who wants to show off her legs.  I also found this short-sleeve Jones New York dress and this pewter Aidan Mattox one shoulder.

If gold is your color, check out this understated Tadashi Shoji sparkly-lace dress or this full-skirted, cap-sleeve Modcloth dress.

Plus-size ladies should look into this eggplant-colored Ralph Lauren, while petite readers should check out this Gatsby-inspired sequin dress from Adrianna Papell.

Go Navy! Dark blue hues like navy and midnight are great for cocktail attire because they’re not as common as black.  Also, provided you choose the right fabric, you can wear navy in any season.  This fit-and-flare dress is a good option, but if you like a sleeker look, try this Tahari Metallic Sheath.  I also adore this navy dress with a black leather cross-back from Alice + Olivia.  I also love this Teri Jon lace dress with a flare skirt, though I might shorten the hem to keep it from looking matronly.

Plus-size? This Papell navy, lace cocktail dress is very chic.  Petite? Check out this printed pleat dress from LOFT.

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  1. sherlock says:

    Thanks for this post Belle! I’ve decided this is the season that I’m really going to flesh out my party/cocktail wardrobe, so this post was much appreciated. I literally clicked on every link.

    November 13, 2013/Reply
  2. Anon says:

    That lace DVF dress is divine. I fell in love with it and went all over town looking for a cheaper duplicate and found none of them was as good as the original. The Nordstrom at Pentagon City has the dress in stock (check the website to see if it’s in stock in your size), so you can see how great the quality really is in person.

    November 13, 2013/Reply
  3. Sofie says:

    I got a navy dress like #4 for about $30 from H&M last month, and it also makes a great work dress. If anyone’s pinching pennies that might not be a bad start.

    November 13, 2013/Reply
  4. Meagan says:

    I have the Adrianna Papell dress in royal blue and it is HOT. It is the best dress to wear out and I get a ton of complements every time.

    November 13, 2013/Reply
  5. Steph says:

    Great advice! Some of my holiday parties are a bit more informal and if I wore a party dress, I’d be grossly overdressed. Do you have any advice on pant/shirt combos that would be festive and chic?

    November 13, 2013/Reply
  6. Alaina says:

    The Amanda Uprichard dress isn’t actually a petite. I’ve noticed that with a few of your petite options; sometimes there is a “petite” size (I’m guessing it’s meant to be an x-small), which is probably why it’s showing up in your searches. I just wanted to point that out to you!

    November 13, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I’ll have to watch out for that. They get sorted into the petite section on Shopstyle, but I’ll try to be more careful.

      November 13, 2013/Reply
  7. GingerR says:

    I’d consult a tailor about shortening that Teri Jon dress before purchasing. It looks like the lace hem is the selvage edge of the lace, notice the little scallops. I think a professional opinion about how that would look shortened would be in order before spending $500.

    November 13, 2013/Reply
    • RG says:

      Yeah, the pattern repeat looks to be at least 6 inches, if you were intent on preserving the hem finish. And cutting and rematching lace is hand piece work, which I’m guessing is more expensive than hem work on a machine. This is one that you are probably better off loving as is, or making your own to fit (it can’t be THAT hard…)

      November 14, 2013/Reply
  8. Capitol Hill SE says:

    So I have a question for all you ladies asking for holiday party attire advice– how do you get invited to all those parties? These dresses look so fun, but I don’t think I’ve ever needed a holiday party dress in my life!

    November 14, 2013/Reply
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  10. CXia says:

    I’ve been enamored with the Aqua Polka Dot Illusion dress since the first time Belle posted it. Bloomingdales had a 20% off sale and I ordered it online. I really like it– but a warning to busty women, it’s not early as office appropriate for us! I’m still trying to decide if I can actually wear it to a professional Christmas party.

    November 20, 2013/Reply