The Party is On! Quick Guide on Your Holiday Party Dress Needs (Updated 2021)
“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”—Edith Head
That’s the fashion motto I’ve always lived for in the entirety of my existence ever since I’ve learned to dress up. It’s one thing that keeps me alive and motivated even when stress is trying to put out the fire and anxiety creeps in like I don’t want to move. Every day was a shot to put on or at least pretend to be my best self with my best dress. And if I do, I could go and get whatever that thing I had in mind.
Dressing up was and actually is my sort of “therapy”. I have always loved the idea of picking clothes, trying them out, and looking in the mirror and feeling good and confident with myself. As a college student back then, I’ve always had a ritual of curating a good outfit for an exam day. Laughingly, if I would fail… well at least I would have failed in style and that’s the better part of it (I think? Haha!).
Curating #OOTD has always been a fun and exciting activity though I must say I look forward to days I could go the extra mile.
Holidays are the best times of the year to not only dress up but dress up “extra” – as the generation today likes to call it. It’s the perfect time to rage in style and not worry about being too much of a showstopper.
So let’s get the party started?
The key to a good style is first and always to know what compliments your body. As Oscar de la Renta advises, “Being well dressed hasn’t much to do with having good clothes. It’s a question of good balance and good common sense.”
For dresses to work their magic on you, it’s important that you know these three things.
Table of Contents
There are classic and timeless pieces like Coco Chanel’s Little Black Dress (LBD) that could fit in any occasion but there are lots of other choices for other dress styles in the market. One of the most versatile pieces you want to keep in your closet are cocktail dresses which you can wear on any event from casual wear to holiday parties and even to weddings.
In simpler terms, a cocktail dress is a knee-length party dress and LBDs are also available in this “cut”. These can be styled according to occasion – turning it up or dialing it down as necessary which makes it a very, very flexible and staple piece you should have in your wardrobe. The versatility of style also makes it a practical investment.
To dress it up, you can accentuate it with clutches, faux fur, silver and golden accessories, and sleek pointed toe stiletto pumps to add a little bit of an edge to the look. If you’re a minimalist type, you can opt with printed cocktail dresses in place of the additional “bling”. On a casual day affair, dial it down by working it with a cap or hat, denim jacket, and sandals or sneakers. Solid colors and simply styled cocktail dresses are good options for casual wear.
You can also go by the season with long-sleeved dresses which can provide additional coverage and warmth – a mix of comfort and practicality with sophistication and style. There are also the long dresses which are perfect for formal evening nights which you either play in elegance or fun.
The colors also play a role in the occasion. You can always play it chic with black or neat with white but holidays are festive seasons as well so it’s best to throw in a bit of color or a spectrum of color even to your dress.
What Part You’d Like to Show Off
There are body parts that we always love to show off or what some call our “assets”. It’s equally important to play the dress to your advantage and not let the dress wear you. Case in point, Coco Chanel once said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they notice the woman.”
There are several styles that indulge attention to our best parts. If you have long luscious legs, you may want to accentuate it by picking styles that draw attention to your legs like slits or mini-cut dresses. Some ladies love to show off their collarbones and shoulders which are emphasized by off shoulder and sleeveless styles. The “boobs” are also assets for those who have been well-endowed (or even if not as much because a dress can always help you build an illusion) and you can put some focus in it by v-shaped necklines. If you have a great back, you can always go backless or put some straps to make it more dramatic.
Knowing the cuts and styles that can accentuate these body parts can help make or break your outfit.
Silhouette Complimenting Body Shape
Silhouette in fashion is described as the outline of a dress or the garment’s overall shape. This is used in emphasizing a woman’s body shape or alter it to create a flattering illusion – removing all of the awkward lines and curves. There are different dress silhouettes designed and created to flatter specific or a range of body types and are also factors in event dress codes.
Before getting a dress, it’s best to be fully knowledgeable of your body shape and know which silhouettes best suit you. This is an advantage most women don’t have and is the root of common issues like dresses wearing the woman and not knowing how to work the dress to her advantage.
101 on the Anatomy of the Dress: Length, Neckline, and Silhouette
Now that we know our considerations, let’s take our time “studying” these to help us pick the best holiday dress for ourselves. On an additional note, knowing the fashion terms can get us through online shopping in a breeze.
One of the many important tasks in choosing a dress is knowing the ideal hemline which maintains the appropriate length for an occasion while still flattering your body. The broad categories of length in women dresses are mini, midi, and maxi but there are other length variations that we shall discuss here:
Shopping can still be difficult even when you know these terms so here’s a mini-table where you can gauge how long the dress you should shop for given your height. Note that these are just approximates to guide you and shouldn’t be taken as standard.
Mini Dress – This can be considered the sexiest cut if we’re only looking at hemlines as it shows most of the leg since it’s cut above the knee. Mini dresses can usually be as short as mid-thigh though some styles explore even shorter lengths. Shift silhouettes are one of the most popular silhouettes in mini length.
Midi Dress – This terminology is not as widely used compared to mini or maxi. Midi dresses range from over the knee to above the ankles and are ideal for taller women though shorter women usually pair it up with some heels to form the illusion of the dress not being too long for them.
Calf Length Dress – As its name suggests, a calf length dress that sits right at the calf and is considered as a midi-type dress since it sits on the same length range. This cut leans more on the casual or business side and is used in flare or wrap silhouettes.
Tea Length Dress – These are a bit longer than calf length dresses and usually stop right above the ankle or about 2-3 inches higher than the ankle. As the name says, tea length dresses are perfect for formal tea parties (hopefully with a Queen or King!). This length is also a staple at summer weddings and graduations. They’re a more playful cut and provide a modern alternative to evening gowns.
3. Maxi Dress – When you say maxi, it’s always associated with flow and summery feels but this can also be formal enough with the right styling. Maxi dresses extend beyond midi-dresses coverage – from the ankle to the floor. If you’re uncomfortable showing skin or you’d like a more comfortable length, a maxi dress is a good pick.
Ankle Length Dress – This is a type of maxi that stops right at your ankles which is considered a flattering fit for any height and can be styled from casual with sandals to sporty with sneakers to formal with some heels.
Floor Length Dress – This is also known as evening gown and is a staple for formal events and should be paired with heels to elongate your legs and maintain a formal look.
Type of Length
Length of Dress
28” / 71cm
5’3” – 5’8” (160-173cm)
30” / 76cm
33” / 84cm
32” / 81cm
5’3” – 5’8” (160-173cm)
34” / 86cm
37” / 94cm
35” / 89cm
5’3” – 5’8” (160-173cm)
37” / 94cm
40” / 102cm
Below Knee Length
37” / 94cm
5’3” – 5’8” (160-173cm)
40” / 102cm
43” / 109cm
56” / 142cm
5’3” – 5’8” (160-173cm)
58” / 147cm
61” / 155cm
*Note to decrease 7 inches on the calculation for strapless dresses.
There about 30 different kinds of necklines for dresses and tops but we’re picking a few commonly-used and some slightly-used terms on our list to give you the basics from A-Z.
Asymmetric Neckline – This neckline is described as a “One Shoulder Dress” which has one strap running over a single shoulder from the shoulder to the underside of the underarm while the other shoulder is bare and exposed. This is a stylish neckline perfect for those who would like to let a peek on their collarbones.
Bateau or Boat Neckline – It’s a boat hull shaped neckline bending delicately south of your collarbones then towards the shoulders typically imaged from arks rather than commercial boat hull styles. This is recommended for those who are not too small nor too big in the breast department, otherwise it could fall flat or look too cheeky.
Crossover Halter Style Neckline – This is a variation of your classic Halter neckline wherein the straps run from the sides of the breasts and then crosses over at the front of the neck and joins at the back usually in a halter style. This style can be a bit restrictive for the well endowed. Additionally, if you’re uncomfortable showing off your arms, this style might not be yours to boot.
Halter – This style is described wherein a dress comes inward from the bust line, encircling the neck and leaving the shoulders bare. These usually incorporate low cut or backless styles and are recommended for those with broad shoulders.
Halter Strap – This is different from halter styles or variations of the halter. This is basically a strap that goes around the back of the neck which holds the the front of the dress. It’s a sexy piece of neckline best for clubbing and parties.
Off Shoulder – It’s also known as the bardot neckline where the shoulders to the neck area is totally bare and are very common neckline styles nowadays that are marketed in different variations.
Plunging – It’s a deep v neckline that extends from the cleavage and all the way to the waist in some styles. This is a very sexy style but can be prone to wardrobe “malfunctions” such as an accidental nip slip.
Racer Back – This is identified with a scoop from the front and straps that come together between the neck and the back.
Scoop – It’s a deep U and nicely rounded neckline and a classic style in a lot of dress designs and compliments any body type.
Semi Sweetheart – It’s depicted by a love heart shape over the breasts which can be differentiated from the sweetheart style as the curves are not as “curvy” and the v in the cleavage is not as deep as the original style thus the “semi”.
Spaghetti Strap – This type of neckline is ideal if you’re confident to show some extra skin like the shoulders and the neck. It’s perfect for a summer party.
Square – It’s a deep and square neckline but not as deep as a scoop or a v-neck. These are recommended for those with broad shoulders.
Straight – This neckline is pretty straightforward running horizontally from underarm to underarm which highlights the bare shoulders and arms.
Strapless – These types of necklines identify with sexy and are recommended for those who have a good size of boobs – not to small and not too big.
V-Neck – This is a neckline that plunges to a deep V until the cleavage area which makes the body look longer and slimmer at the same time.
Again, in definition in the context of fashion, silhouette refers to the shape of a dress which is used to highlight the body shape of a woman or help alter it to a more flattering appearance.
You can check out the full article to give you an in-depth understanding on silhouettes and body shapes.
How to Style your Holiday Dress
A holiday dress is something that is stylishly worn and adds a little extra or drama from the usual and casual outfits of the day. Let’s take a look on two staple items that you should purchase for your closet because not only are they stylish and versatile pieces, they also end up saving you a lot of money through the years of events and parties! Swearing your style on a basic piece and learning how to style it will not only level up your skills but also make your life a lot easier.
Little Black Dress (LBD)
“One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress.” —Karl Lagerfeld
We’ve heard this quote a million times but it has never aged and so is the little black dress. Little black dresses are classic and timeless clothing items and are a lady’s “best friend”. These are cut simply and often quite short as well. It’s considered as an essential item to complete one’s wardrobe under the “rule of fashion” which ‘requires’ women to own one simple yet elegant black dress.
It’s a 1920s design credited to Coco Chanel and Jean Patou who both wanted to create a piece that would be “long lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible, and in neutral color”.
Today, LBDs are designed in different cuts and styles to cater to the different needs of women. Aside from the hundreds of varieties to choose from, you can style them in many different ways – the original and main purpose of Coco Chanel.
You can style them up with flare for a sleek yet dramatic vibe – a look that will definitely be remembered in decades to come. I’m not kidding, they can be that powerful and that is if you allow them to do so. With the right accessories and shoes, you can definitely spice things up.
Or you can wear it down for a bit more comfortable and casual holiday party yet remaining stylish – standing out among the sea of crowd with the littlest effort. It can be the perfect chic getaway party dress.
How do you rock the little black dress?
As they say, not all little black dresses are created equal – some far superior than others while some are best worn for ‘seasonal flings’. You could try and buy all the varieties you can of the LBD but that would cost you an unnecessary amount. BUT, the trick is here to buy a few essentials that you should stuff your closet that can last you a lifetime of parties. (Yes, believe me.) Here are 6 Little Black Dress to cover you for every occasion and season.
The Casual Maxi
The Casual Maxi is a classic LBD piece that provides both style and comfort which is not always the case for many dresses on the market now though innovation has helped ditch the ‘style only’ type of dresses. It’s an effortlessly glamorous outfit with a minimalist style, perfect for your lowkey kind of holiday party. Not to mention that you can totally use it for your casual activities like running errands, grocery shopping, or having brunch with your friends on your off days or holiday breaks. I mean it’s still a party even if you’re just hanging out with friends, right?
Maxi dresses provide full coverage and are super comfortable because of its free flowing or floaty feature which you can dress up with a pair of black or red pumps – whatever floats your boat – for a refined yet casual look. (Especially for shorter ladies who need that extra height to flaunt the flowy maxi dress.)
You can also dress it down with a pair of strappy sandals and a hat which will make you look like a goddess on vacation partying down by the beach on sunset.
If you’re looking to show off your legs, you can also experiment with a slit to create an edgier look for a maxi. And if you’re down to create more drama, you can wear it with some gold or silver accessories.
This is one of the more common and staple designs of the LBD. It’s a structured piece — straight cut and fitted which leans more on the formal type of holiday parties. Sheath dresses are usually small and are worn by rather petite ladies. Sheath LBDs have grown in style and are usually designed with thin straps for a sexy look or puffed sleeves for a more innocent take.
For a structured piece, this one definitely has some flexibility. You can partner it with a chunky sneaker for a stylish yet casual take. If you’re up for an edgier look, go with a black Doc Martens to finish the look. But it would be best paired with pump or thin open toed heels to recreate the classic look.
You can also throw in a denim jacket to create texture and color contrast or a beret for a more feminine yet strong aesthetic.
Inspired from the 1950s fashion, the flared dress is a fun and sophisticated clothing piece which is highlighted by its empire waist that fits any size. This LBD has so much characteristic and it’s easy to dress it down or up with a few changes in accessories and shoes.
You can go with some big and chunky accessories to accentuate the look or just leave it as it is because it’s already a hundred percent stylish on its own. Nevertheless, even if you’re not good with fashion and style, a flare LBD can save your look in any kind of party.
The slip dress identifies as the effortlessly sexy and sultry LBD which is like the red wine to any party. You can wear it on a cut down version – a mini – to accent the legs and pair it up with a few simple accessories like a silver necklace to highlight the quite bare shoulder region. If you’re feeling extra dramatic, a faux fur can do just the trick. Then a pair of strappy heels and you’re walking center stage into the party.
You can also wear it in maxi with a long slit on the side, a sexy take on a rather long dress. Or slip up a pair of solid-color long sleeves or shirt and couple it with some thigh-high boots for your mini or your plain old ankle boots for calf-length. Some styles also look good with ulky wedge sandals.
There are also different types of fabric you can experiment with slip dresses which can add texture to your style. For parties, you can never go wrong with the classic satin, sequined, or velvet.
Cape Style Dress
Cape style dresses are one of the more uncommon styles of LBD and are gaining a bit of following as it depicts the look of a strong independent woman. You can pair it up with a beret and combat boots for a superheroine kind of look or wear it down to a classic heel and some silver accessories.
If you’re too lazy to style, go for a black lace dress because the fabric already does the style for you. This is a minimal type of design which can be styled sexily or conservatively depending on your preferences or the need of the event or situation. It has easily been one of the most favorite LBDs since it already has a character on its own.
For the sleeveless lace dresses, you can add in a stylish blazer to give some texture contrast and pair it up with the classic pumps – and you’re good to go. It’s that easy!
Classic White Dress
As much as you need a little black dress, you also need a classic white dress in your closet. It’s just the yin and yang of fashion aesthetics and just like an LBD, you can never go wrong with a classic white dress.
White dresses exude a light and neat vibe and are very in demand in many formal events like businesses, graduations, and weddings. Not only are they light and neat, they are also very comfy items to wear especially during the summer since white fabric generally reflects light.
For Graduation Parties
Graduation ceremonies are usually paired with white dresses. Though there are many different colors to pick, this has been one of the many traditions followed by ladies. White symbolizes new beginnings and positivity as one completes a milestone in life either as an entering college student or preparing for adult life.
Usually white dresses worn during graduation ceremonies are in more simple and formal cuts nevertheless they can be stylish.
Sleeveless Lace Cocktail Dress
This cocktail dress is a comfortable clothing item made of 100% chiffon suitable for casual wear, in parties, or in graduation ceremonies alike. Since it’s lace, you wouldn’t need any extra accents to make it stylish. It’s also very flattering and has a very great fit.
Half-Sleeved White Shift Dress
Shift dresses are very simple in style although they are mostly marketed in the mini length which could be quite an issue with some. Nevertheless, these are stylish pieces perfect for ladies looking for a short type and white coloured dress. The half sleeves design is fit for heightened girls and also gives the aura of formality to the whole dress.
Though weddings nowadays are taking a dive into a more playful and unique concept, a lot of brides still follow the traditional white ensemble for weddings.
White Shirt and Palazzo
If you’re looking for a comfortable white outfit but don’t want (of course) to upstage the bride on her wedding day, this a good choice (all around, every time, to be honest). The sleeveless white shirt paired with palazzo pants – long women’s trousers that are cut in an extremely loose leg which flares out from the waist – makes it a very refreshing formal look and can also easily pass as a casual wear. Though this does not technically qualify as a dress, it looks like one as the shirt and palazzo creates a continuous look appearing like a one piece.
Statement Sleeves White Dress
Statement sleeves always add a chic charm to otherwise boring white dresses. This style can keep you covered from casual wear to even parties. Pair it with nice heels of your choice and a clutch and you’re already good! Statement sleeves are not just restricted to a few different styles. I’m not going to list all of them but here are some that you would absolutely love to cop off: bell sleeves, bishop sleeves, ruffle sleeves, extra long sleeves, and layered sleeves.
Now that you know the essential dresses that you should have on your closet and though they can actually be an all-season type of dress, it’s still good to pack up on some festive holiday party dresses. Let’s explore how we can dress up for the two holiday seasons that we never forget to celebrate.
How to dress up for Christmas Holiday Parties?
Christmas has been an integral part of the lives of many communities and is globally celebrated with the exception of a few communities. It’s always celebrated in schools, workplaces, and even at home, most take the time to dress up while waiting for the clock to tick at ‘zero o’clock’ on the 25th of December.
For this season, color plays a major role. While you can indulge on black or white coloured outfits, the Christmas palette always goes on the greens and the reds.
A cocktail dress in red will always be a classic choice for this season. Pair it up with a monochrome theme of accessories and shoes and a glass of red wine, you would have totally nailed the Christmas spirit. Kidding aside, since it’s just an annual event, you can try ‘splurging’ a bit on one dress though make sure you absolutely love the style before you purchase one.
A Cocktail Dress in Black, Red, Jewel Tones, Silver, or Gold would qualify for the Christmas theme without compromising stylishness. Step on the sparkle and choose a dress with a metallic finish or glitzy sequin details to make it a bit more extra than your usual dress. Finish with strappy heels for a sexy look or some pumps for a rather casual look.
If you’re going for a basic look, a LBD is an automatic choice. Though a red version of the style would pump some color to the mood. You can try wearing a plaid sweater dress in the colors of red and black.
Just note to choose a dress that you would be comfortable in and suits your body as well. You might want to avoid clingy fabrics for the festive food season! (Kidding… not kidding!)
Personally, I’m not much for brightly coloured dresses so instead of spending on a dress, I would much rather put my money on accents like accessories.
One classic combination if you’re not way too styled with your hair down, you can go with a sequined clutch, statement cocktail ring, and a long, simple necklace.
For a sexier look, try statement chandelier earrings, a wrist cuff, and a simple satin clutch.
For the shoes, here are a few options you can explore and experiment with your dresses:
A strappy high heeled sandals and simple kitten heeled pumps have always been the classic options for any holiday party dress and can complement any dress well.
Satin-finish black pumps or high-heeled boots are also good options.
How to dress up for New Year Holiday Parties?
New Year’s season is the holiday that marks another year and a chance to change for the better – or so we always say as we write our New Year’s list . It’s a holiday that is celebrated by everyone else and is somehow more festive and glamorous than Christmas with the fireworks and the different New Year’s parties happening everywhere.
There’s no dress code for New Years and you can always count on your little black dress to stylishly save you for the holiday parties. BUT, it’s the start of the year and I think it’s a good idea to “dress to impress” and stand out from the crowd.
Here are some tips you can note down to take you on your best New Years look.
It’s all about the fit. Remember this fabric-to-fit formula that can save you from looking awkward. “Simple fabrics should be on a tailored silhouette, while loud fabrics should fall away from the body.” Great combination examples you can try are: fitted rich velvet or loose golden metallic.
For the colors, try shades of silver and velvet. Though most follow the Pantone Color of the Year which also works.
Pick a standout piece and stop trying to combine everything or else you would look like a clown on New Year’s and that isn’t nice, at all. Mix your standout piece with simple yet flattering pieces like a blazer.
As much as you’re picking a standout piece, choose your vibe as well. If you’re trying to do sexy, embrace the vibe to maximize the dress or outfit. Flaunt the straps, if you will.
For the shoes, go for comfortable ones meaning shoes with platform or block heels.
Choosing a dress for your holiday party or any other event should be something that you need to study. You should know your body well – your size, body shape, and assets – so you can pick a dress that will compliment your body and give you that confidence boost. Know what styles can bring out your best parts and which one’s don’t. Fashion and style isn’t just easily what looks nice.
Purchase one essential little black dress and a classic white dress to complete your wardrobe. These are versatile pieces that can be styled up or down depending on your preference and need. You will end up saving a lot more by splurging on one rather than buying one dress for each season or occasion that will ultimately end up on the ‘once-worn’ pile.
And lastly, Christmas and New Year’s holidays are once a year events and it doesn’t hurt to be extra during these seasons. Though an LBD or a white dress are classic pieces, investing on a few festive coloured or dramatic dresses would not exactly count as “unnecessary”.
Invest in accessories and good shoes. These are what can make or break your outfits. And with a change in these subtle things, you can style up, down, or repeat an outfit without anyone knowing it!