Marie Claire's Guide to Holiday Dressing

Look festive while still feeling like yourself.

Ralph Lauren, Saint Laurent
(Image credit: Courtesy of brands)

Every year, the anticipation of the holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier. We love a reason to celebrate: clinking fizzy glasses of champagne, dressed to the nines. But no matter how far away it seems, the holiday season always creeps up. Suddenly, it's here—and piecing together all of the components of festive holiday party looks can feel overwhelming, especially with a mounting pile of save-the-dates. But gearing up for a glitzy night out or night in (if you're the one hosting) should, at its core, be all about having fun, and feeling like your best self. Dressing the part is often about formulaic styling tips and tricks that can transform your winter wear into party wear. Luxe fabrics (in sophisticated silhouettes), festive accessories, and maybe a fun new piece to throw into the mix will carry you through the holidays, from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve. Have a flawlessly-fitted black blazer at home? Add a vintage-esque feathery plume brooch. Heels just not in the cards this year? Opt for an embellished ballet flat or a sleek loafer instead.

Schapiarelli, Ralph Lauren, Bottega

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In many ways, velvet is synonymous with special occasion wear, especially in the colder months, considering the fabric's weight and hand feel. Worn right, and there's no other material that proves as regal. But unlike centuries ago when the fabric was worn exclusively by clergy members and nobility, today's velvets are taken far less seriously, available in a wide array of colors and prints— encouraging a sense of whimsy. To keep your velvets fun yet elevated, layer a piece or two with a grounding fabric, like wool, add a quirky accessory, or mix a pop of color with neutrals.

Feathers from Chris Kane, Valentino, Dries Van Noten, Jil Sander

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Historically, wearing feathers was much like wearing fur, and there were two camps—love it or leave it. But with eco-friendly alternatives on the rise, you don't have to compromise your party style or values. Which is excellent news, because what's a party without a little plume? If you don't love an attention-grabbing look, you can feel out the right amount of feathers for you— from the simple addition of a feather brooch (like this investment Saint Laurent style. This one is a great, very affordable option as well) to a full-on feather look. 

Emilia Wickstead, Dries Van Noten, Prada

(Image credit: Courtesy of brands)

Winter's florals are a bit different than their warmer weather counterparts—a bit more subdued, moodier, and more abstract than the maximalist blooms of spring and summer. For holiday wear, a bud or full bloom is also a great accompaniment to festive fabrics like metallics and silks. While brocade and embellished florals err on the fancier side, they're still ideally suited for everyday wear, so you don't have to run home or tote around an extra change of clothes for the holiday office party. Go from day to play without missing a beat—because who has time for weekday outfit changes?

Bottega Veneta, Valentino, Chloe, Miu Miu

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You can achieve a wide range of shine with metallics. Sequins, which are sewn on flat, and palettes, sewn on at an angle (meant to dangle and dance), are universally beloved as party wear. But there are many other options, like metallic hardware, metallic accessories, and even a metallic-coated fabric. Each offers a great in-between scenario when you’re not fully committed to a full-on sparkle look. While silver and gold are much like a neutral and a perfect pairing alongside any print or color, metallic prints — like florals and paisleys— are also a great way to wear the trend. Plus, anything metallic almost always doubles as cocktail attire.

Burberry, Saint Laurent, DIor

(Image credit: Courtesy of brands)

An invite just hit your inbox requesting your presence at a party where the dress code is holiday attire, but you don't have to run to the nearest ugly Christmas sweater depot; instead, opt for something festive-adjacent and something you'll wear again. How about plaid? From a plaid blazer that looks right at home near a fireplace to a preppy-forward plaid loafer that's also practical, plaid is a surefire way to get in the holiday spirit.

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director for Marie Claire, where she's worked alongside the publication for eight years in various roles, ensuring the brand's fashion content continues to inform, inspire, and shape the conversation about fashion's ever-evolving landscape. With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara is responsible for overseeing a diverse fashion content mix, from emerging and legacy designer profiles to reported features on the influence of social media on style and seasonal and micro trends across the world's fashion epicenters in New York, Milan, and Paris. Before joining Marie Claire, Sara held fashion roles at Conde Nast's Lucky Magazine and Self Magazine and was a style and travel contributor to Equinox's Furthermore website. Over her decade of experience in the fashion industry, Sara has helped guide each brand's style point of view, working alongside veteran photographers and stylists to bring editorial and celebrity photo shoots to fruition from start to finish. Sara currently lives in New York City. When she's not penning about fashion or travel, she’s at the farmer’s market, on a run, working to perfect her roasted chicken recipe, or spending time with her husband, dog, and cat. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork