Ask the Edit: Layering Ideas for Cocktail Dresses

Dec 27, 2018

With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, how do you dress up and stay warm?  Especially if you want your layers to look stylish, not forced.  Here are some ideas.

Dear Abra,

I’m trying to avoid buying yet another cocktail dress this year, but know that the venues for at least two of the parties I need to attend are very chilly and the dresses I already own are not cozy. Do you have suggestions for how to warm up short, sleeveless, jewel tone dresses without looking dowdy?

Thanks! Sara

There is always one woman at the party in a pretty dress and a slightly worn cardigan.  But being chilly doesn’t mean you need to choose the wrong topper for your cocktail attire.

BlankNYC makes a great, inexpensive faux leather jacket.  This classic moto style would look great over a sleeveless cocktail dress.  I also like this hooded style and this cleaner, draped-front style.  Plus-size?  Try this Levi’s moto-style leather jacket.

So how do you make this work with a traditional, sleeveless cocktail dress like this purple Calvin Klein dress?  First, you need a cool shoe with a simple, modern style.  These Express sandals are a good example. Then, you need to add a modern, rocker-chic earring like these Mignonne feather-like earrings.

Animal textures like this Feather Bolero are great option.  Faux-fur and feathers are really having a moment; it’s a bit of a late-1970s revival.  It’s a bit over-the-top, but it’s for a party.  To tone it down, where it with a t-shirt and jeans.

You can also try this J.Crew faux-leopard jacket or this Mango faux-fur jacket.  Amazon also has a lot of nice options, like this silvery-grey jacket.

How do you make it work?  Go all in on the glamour.  I like these crystal Serefina Starburst ear jackets or these classically Art Deco Adriana Orsini earrings.  Add a stack of bracelets like this Nadri Tattoo bracelet.  And choose a satin heel in a similar shade to your jacket or dress, like these McFally satin pumps or these Nina Blakely pumps.

Prefer to wear a cardigan?  Make it an evening-style cardigan.  This pearl-embellished cashmere cardigan from Barney’s is a nice piece.  This crystal-embellished cardigan is nice too.  For something a bit more modern, push up the sleeve on this floral-jacquard cardigan from Opening Ceremony.  Plus-size?  This Talbot’s pearl detail cardigan is nice.

If you go this route, keep the look simple and elegant.  Match the embellishment on the cardigan to your earrings/jewelry.  And choose a simple shoe like these Jenn d’Orsay pumps from Sole Society.

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  1. L says:

    I also like the idea of layering a button down top underneath of the dress (with a pretty pattern or embellished collar to make it more fancy)… it doesn’t work with all styles, but sometimes it can look really chic.

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