Crushed velvet, sequins, and ugly holiday sweaters you can't help but love (the felt Rudolph with a red light-up nose just makes you smile!)—it's officially holiday party season. And before your social calendar starts to completely fill up with corporate cocktail hours and festive potlucks, consider finalizing your sartorial game plan ahead of time—aka now. That way, when you're struggling to figure out what to gift your Gen Z niece (opens in new tab) or how exactly one roasts a turkey to perfection, you'll at least have all your best holiday party outfits already planned.
Ahead, find seven looks for different festive scenarios, ranging from casual and intimate gatherings with family to glamorous New Year's Eve soirées where attendees are encouraged to Go! All! Out! (Spoiler alert: Sparkles make an appearance in all of the below outfits, so prepare to get your shimmer on this year.)
For a Holiday Work Party
As fashion stylist Shea Daspin tells Marie Claire, assembling an outfit for a holiday work party "is a delicate balance of looking office appropriate, cool, and festive all at the same time. If you are in-between options, opt for the more conservative look but accessorize with edgier pieces or materials like latex, layered jewelry, and a killer heel. Don’t forget to add a little shimmer and consider keeping your look holiday agnostic to respect everyone represented in the office," she says.
For a Holiday Cocktail Party
"A cocktail party is where you can really go all out! No rules here. Anything indicative of holiday dressing is perfect: velvet, sparkles, and fringe are all good," says Daspin, a known maximalist. "You could even get away with a fun headpiece or accessorize with holiday trinkets to make it a little campier," she adds, inviting you to opt for a glittery style that would coordinate perfectly with a sequined holiday party cocktail dress.
For a Family Get-Together
"With a close family gathering, you can go one or two ways: Either very casual or very dressed up," the stylist explains. "Personally, I prefer something on the more casual side that still incorporates luxe fabrics, sparkles, and shimmer"—a comfy cable-knit sweater teamed with pants made of a woven sparkle knit, for instance.
"I also like to have a holiday-themed pair of fuzzy socks to change into, even if they clash with my outfit because I'm spending time with my family doing more stay-at-home things like picking up holiday groceries or a game night. And since I’m usually lounging around the house with the exception of dinner time, I don’t want to be in heels the whole night," says Daspin. For the comfiest of casual holiday party outfits, the stylist says, "this is also a great opportunity for matching family pajamas, especially if you exchange gifts on the earlier side."
For a Holiday Dinner Party
For an intimate dinner party, feel free to bypass 'hard pants' and opt for a comfortable pair of stretchy, elastic-waist bottoms instead. Of course, you'll be consuming a feast of goods, so you want to ensure your outfit doesn't hinder you from eating that second slice of pecan pie your best friend's boyfriend brought. (Paul really should consider leaving his job at the architectural firm and pivoting to a career in baking).
And since you'll be spending the majority of your evening sitting down, think of a waist-up hero piece your fellow guests will be able to marvel at while gathered around the dinner table—a keyhole cutout top, a blazer with a graphic lapel, a statement pendant necklace, for instance.
For a Late-Night Holiday Soirée
If you have a late-night holiday party on the docket, Daspin urges you to give the sheer trend a try, specifically via transparent dress. As for what to wear underneath the see-through number, she says the best way to style it is "with simple and intentional undergarments underneath. A triangle bralette and a high-rise brief in solid colors will pop and be the most graphic underneath. Or," Daspin offers with a wink, "if you want to get especially cheeky, you can opt for a decorative G-String or thong instead of a brief."
Ultimately, Daspin says "the key to rocking a sheer dress is confidence. You will want to show off what is underneath it just as much as you will want to show off the accessories that you layer on top."
For a New Year's Eve Party
"Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle—Holiday dressing is all about sparkles," says Daspin, shouting out your New Year's Eve outfit as one that certainly shouldn't skimp on shimmer. "Make sure to have at least one thing sparkly on you at all times to keep your look festive!" Try a sequined gown, costume-esque jewelry, and strappy sandals as a glam look to ring in the new year.