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Holiday party attire: what to wear

photo by Liz Lorenzsonn

Tis the season for a calendar bursting with Holiday Parties; friends, family and colleagues coming together to celebrate.  Whether a casual gathering or formal soiree, one must know the dress code to keep from appearing out of place, or worse, insulting the host.

Casual Get Togethers
If the invitation says "open house" or the party is taking place during the day, it is safe to assume that the host expects that guests will come dressed casually.  But, be aware that casual doesn't mean weekend sweats.  Jeans are acceptable, as long as they are not distressed or full of holes; when in doubt choose dark denim over any other wash.  Pair jeans with a pretty top, both ruffles and silk are great options; or a dressy blazer made of velvet; or a nice sweater.  Finish the outfit with festive flats and a great bag.

Festive Cocktail Parties
For an evening party have fun!  This is the time to take a risk; add some sparkle or play with color.  Avoid pants, unless they are sleek dress pants like an ankle length satin pair or tuxedo pants, stick with a pretty skirt and dressy top.  Sequins are hot this holiday season, and they add a festive, yet glamourous touch to any outfit.  Go all-out with accessories, chandelier earrings, some bangles, a cute clutch and an amazing pair of pumps to complete the outfit.

Black-Tie Optional Affair 
If the invitation reads "Black-tie Optional" it means the hosts expect that guests will show up in tuxedos and formal gowns, while "optional" indicates that it is not required, formal wear will be the norm at such events.  Start with an amazing dress.  While formal attire is usual indicative of floor-length, it is not a set rule.  Any length will work if the dress is made with luxe materials; such as, satin, lace or taffeta; when selecting a dress look for classy over festive.  Play with a rich color palette, like deep purples, navy blues, or shades of red.  Keep accessories elegant: box frame clutches, shoes with rich details, and great diamond or pearl jewelry.

Not sure about the dress code?  It is always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.  The trusty Little Black Dress is always appropriate, just dress it up with your favorite accessories.