Zara bootie with crystals and Aldo shoe clip

Holiday Party Season

Every year, around this time, holiday party outfits become a major topic of discussion. Both for my personal styling clients and for my blog readers. Coordinating outfits for the myriad of holiday parties on the docket can be stressful. It’s a joyous time of year but there are just so. many. parties! The work party, the cocktail party, the neighborhood get together, the family party, the dinner dance at the club – and that’s just naming a few.  And the dress codes for these events vary greatly – from cocktail to casual and everything in-between.

Holiday Party Outfits Don’t Have to be Stressful

Last week, one of the producers from WKYC, Channel 3’s Lunch Break show called to ask if I could help them and their audience get dressed for Holiday Party Season. To make getting dressed for the holidays a little less stressful. How fun and hopefully helpful would that be??? The client I had scheduled for that day had just called, she was battling the flu and had to reschedule – so I was available! It was kismet.

To watch the complete WKYC Lunch Break segment – click here.

Holiday Party Outfit Overwhelm

In theory, getting dressed for a holiday party can seem kind of simple and straight forward. But let me give you an idea of what goes through most people’s minds…

I know the invitation says FILL IN THE BLANK (cocktail, festive, casual, business) but what does that REALLY mean??? Do I have to wear a dress? Long? Short? And pantyhose? 

I don’t want to be too overdressed. But I also don’t want to be underdressed. And, I don’t have anything in my closet that fits the bill! Ugh, I have to go shopping for something new. But I don’t want to buy something I’m only going to wear once. I have things but they don’t feel special or festive. And, my “going out” clothes aren’t totally appropriate to wear around my FILL IN THE BLANK (boss, co-workers, clients, grandpa, children). UGHHHH forget it. I just won’t go!

And that there is precisely why getting dressed for holiday parties can be so dang stressful.

Let’s get down to it… what do you wear to a holiday party so you’re not overdressed and also not underdressed? AND, I’d even add, if you need to buy something new, that it’s something you might actually be able to wear at another time of the year.

Sparkle, Texture, Color

When it comes to dressing for holiday events there are 3 things that quickly and simply make outfits feel festive. SPARKLE (sequins or metallics). TEXTURE (velvet or satin). COLOR (red or green of course, but winter white feels very seasonal and not as predictable). If you add just one of those elements, the outfit instantly feels elevated. And all of these things when paired with less dressy items (like denim) can be worn to non-holiday events too.

For the outfits in the WKYC Lunch Break segment, I concentrated on adding sparkle because IMHO, the holidays = sequin season. And depending on both your sparkle tolerance AND the dressiness of the event you can add just a touch of shimmer or a whole lotta shine.

3 Easy Holiday Party Looks – That can cover most occasions

Most holiday party outfits fall in one of these 3 categories: Dressy, Casual, and The no man’s land of in-between. Or as I’ d prefer it to be known – something that can be dressed up or dressed down as needed.


Stephanie Haney in Zara sequin dress

Channel 3’s digital anchor, Stephanie Haney is ready for a cocktail party in this great sequined blazer dress. Sadly this exact one sold out in the last 5 days since the show aired, but, I’ve linked a bunch of similar styles below. I added black tights to make the outfit more cold-weather appropriate AND a great little shoe clip onto the booties to add some extra sparkle and shine. This dress would look great at a cocktail event in February too. Being a black sequin, it’s more versatile than a red or green sequin that is more limited to the holidays.


Halogen sequined cashmere sweater and good american coated denim

WKYC intern, Hope, is festively dressed for a more casual holiday soiree.  Her jeans are coated denim so they look like leather but are more wallet-friendly and comfortable too. And the sweater has just a bit of sequin so it feels special but not over the top. This could be paired with blue jeans and boots to take make it even more casual. I also doubled up on the necklaces to give it some extra punch.

Dress it Up/Dress it Down

Ann Taylor winter white tux pants and star wrap

They ran out of models, lol! So I showcased the third look of an outfit that could be dressed up or down. I paired a winter white wide-leg tux pant with a sequined cami.  And for both modesty and warmth, I threw a coordinating pashmina over my shoulders. The slacks and pashmina would look great with a plain silk cami or blouse for a less dressy look. And the sequined top would also look great with some distressed denim to play up the juxtaposition of casual-dressy.

Happy Holidays you guys!! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, joyful and stress-free holiday season. And BTW, I may have purchased those shoe clips as a gift for myself – they’re so good!

To check out the complete WKYC Lunch Break segment – click here.

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Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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