December 6, 2018

CultureProfessional Development

Holiday Parties: A Woman’s Guide for What (and What Not) to Wear for Any Holiday Event

By: Leah Whetstone

Every year, the holiday season seems to rapidly approach. With all of the bustling about attending Thanksgiving Day parades, tree lightings around town, commercial holiday shopping, and prepping to host the family, is it any wonder that it seems impossible to dedicate time to finding the perfect outfit for the next holiday event? While it’s easy to throw on a cheesy sweater, typical office wear, or something that may be too revealing, think of stylist, author, and former TV host of What Not to Wear, Stacy London’s words, “While we decorate our trees with ornaments, one might consider the art of holiday style as a slightly more strategic version of ornamentation.”

Whether you’re attending a work holiday party, a friends or family gathering, or meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, here are a six simple styling tips to impress everyone you encounter at your next event.

Know the Type of Event You’re Attending
It’s important to know what kind of event you’re going to. Over the next week, I will attend three events: a gala, my college’s DC Christmas party, and a friend’s holiday party. I guarantee you, I won’t be wearing the same thing to any of them. In fact, they are black tie, cocktail, and festive, respectively. Don’t be afraid to inquire about what type of attire is most appropriate for your next event. Asking about dress attire for an event is the first step in deciding what to wear.

It’s Okay Not to Wear Festive Colors
Amidst all of the wrapping, holiday music, and constant advertisements, it may be tempting to throw on that old green and red dress from the mid-2000’s. Rather, opt for red, black, navy, or even ivory. Jewel tones look impeccable on everyone. My favorite color this season? Emerald green.

Did you know? Metallics can be treated as neutrals. Try to mix and match them in an outfit, but be careful to wear subtle accessories that will highlight, rather than take away from, the outfit.

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Watch Out for Items That Can be too Revealing
It’s not ideal to wear an extremely low-cut top, skin tight bodycon dress, or a skirt that is more than eight fingers above your knee to an office or networking holiday party. Find simple, elegant, and modern-fitting pieces that can be layered and dressed up. The general rule of thumb is to pick one location to show a bit more: arms and back, slightly lower cut top, or legs. This can add a modest, yet appealing balance.

A Jumpsuit Can Be a Unique Replacement
I recently invested in a simple black, billowy jumpsuit. A well-fitted one-piece anything is a rare find for me as I’m 5’3 and have a short torso. However, jumpsuits are very trendy, do not have to be expensive, and can be dressed up or dressed down. I plan to add a couple fun accessories and sparkly gold heels to my jumpsuit for a cocktail event, but may very well wear it to a family gathering with a pair of velvet black heels, leather jacket, and metallic necklace. So versatile!

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Conquer Any Event with a Great Pair of Heels
There is something about a pair of heels that makes me never want to wear flats again. If you are feeling that your holiday wear is too simple, find a bold printed, sparkly, or chunky heel to elevate your outfit. Heels can add a fun, sophisticated flare and bring life to an otherwise seemingly plain outfit. If heels aren’t your thing, find a chic metallic or velvet pair of flats or a flirty pair that compliments and contrasts your bag and jewelry. Although it may seem obvious, if you reside in a commuting city, do not wear your metro or subway flats to an elegant event.

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Rent the Runway is Your Friend
When in doubt, or if you don’t want to spend several hundred dollars on a new designer outfit, Rent the Runway will help you find that perfect holiday piece. The company allows you to rent outfits or accessories for four or eight days, and even has a monthly unlimited option. Next time you can’t find something in your closet, consider renting a new piece that will wow your guests and colleagues.

Looking for more resources and ways to elevate your personal style? Let me know, and check out other posts on the AFF blog!

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