The penultimate part in the A-Z to a Stylish Christmas series is brought to you by another guest blogger. Today, Laura, of Ruby Bastille.
It’s the holiday season, which means that if your life is more exciting than mine, you’ve probably been invited to a ton of parties: office parties, cocktail parties, family gatherings, cookie swaps, white elephants, concerts, etc. ‘Tis the season for dressing up and spending time with friends, family, and coworkers. ‘Tis also the season for figuring out how you’re going to fit all these parties into your schedule and what you’re going to wear to them!
This post will hopefully solve those problems by creating outfits based on pieces that are probably already in your closet. Using these basics, you can wear what you’d normally wear to work, then take the outfit straight to the party with a few modifications. This will hopefully save you both time and money, since you can hit your social function without having to go home to change, plus you don’t have to shell out for a whole new outfit.
You can create tons of festive looks by decking out a couple key pieces, but some of the looks you’ll see in this post can go from work to the party with only one or two minor additions, like different shoes or jewelry. Hopefully you’ll get some ideas for how to work with what you already own and still be stylish for the season!
We’ll start with the basic work outfit:
These are some basics every woman should have in her wardrobe:
1. high-quality black slacks and a pencil skirt
2. a couple button-up shirts
3. a well-fitting blazer or two
4. black heels
At least one of these pieces will be present in every outfit here. The most common ones? Classic black slacks and a black pencil skirt. These basics can be reworked into an infinite variety of looks, so I advise investing in high-quality, well-fitting pieces. The button-ups, jackets, and jewelry can be mixed and matched into whatever look fits best with your office environment and your own style. (These pieces don’t have to cost you your firstborn, either.) If it’s appropriate for your workplace, show your personal style by wearing trendy ¾-length sleeves, a tunic-length button-up, or individualized jewelry.
Many of these party outfits feature different shoes because shoes are the easiest part of an outfit to change up, but if you’re in a real time crunch, quality classic black pumps will go with absolutely everything. I’d invest in those as well since you can wear them so much. Jewelry is also inexpensive and easy to change out, but I made sure to include each of those earrings in at least one other outfit. Hopefully those ideas will help those of you on an extra-tight budget or a majorly crammed schedule.
Here’s the first party look!
Keep: Pants or skirt, heels, ivory blazer
Add: classic shell with minimal embellishments, pashmina wrap (swap out blazer), metallic clutch, classic jewelry
Look for: classic silhouettes, higher necklines, jeweltones
Avoid: super-trendy colors and silhouettes, blingy or oversized jewelry
I put these two looks together with an office party in mind, especially at a more conservative workplace like a law firm. No matter what, unless you work for Alan Rickman’s company in “Love Actually,” an office party is not the place to show off your platform heels, leather mini, or off-the-shoulder top. Stick with classic silhouettes, err on the side of modesty, and sport sophisticated jewelry.
(Bonus tip: save even more time by wearing the shell to work with a more classic black blazer and simple jewelry. Swap the blazer for the pashmina wrap, add your fancy jewelry, and voila, you’re set!)
For makeup, start with a clean, even foundation and wear the mellower colors of the season: wine or dark berry lipstick or gloss with a nude or taupe eye, subtle eyeliner optional. Add mascara and a little blush and you’ll have the perfect classic face.
One note about jewelry that applies to all these looks: wear bold earrings or a bold necklace, but not both. For example, for this look, I would wear the red chandelier earrings on their own, but I’d pair the pearl drops with the long gold chain necklace. The same principle applies to makeup: bold eyes or bold lips, but not both! If you want to rock red lipstick, stick with a minimalist smoky eye. If you want to try out the season’s bold eye shadows, wear a nude lip color or a light gloss.
Let’s move on to the second conservative look:
Keep: pants, heels, white tunic
Add: drape-front cardigan or vest, skinny waist belt
Look for: a simple color scheme, sophisticated jewelry, high-quality fabrics in the cardigan
Avoid: casual chunky knits, super-trendy colors
This look is both more conservative and more casual than the first – in fact, with the right jewelry, you could probably wear this entire outfit to work. I’d wear this for more laid-back parties, like a work lunch or a family gathering. Keep it in party mode by wearing bolder jewelry and sticking with fine jersey or thin knits instead of chunky sweaters. Wear a similar makeup palette to the first outfit, but maybe try out a light smoky eye or a darker lip color. This would be a fun opportunity to try out that classic red lipstick!
Now let’s cut loose a little and look at another pair of outfits:
Keep: pants or skirt, ivory blazer
Add: embellished tank, drape-front cardigan (swap out blazer), boots or fun heels, bold earrings
Look for: classic silhouettes embellished or in trendy colors, a less traditional color scheme
Avoid: necklaces, low necklines, over-the-top shoes
With the less conservative looks, you can do fun stuff like wear classic black boots with your pencil skirt, or sassy red heels with your slacks. If you stick with simple layers like a blazer or neutral drape-front cardi, you can have a lot of fun finding a tank with beautiful embellishments like lace, fringe, or sequins. I’d advise skipping a necklace with these tops to keep the outfit from looking too busy, but feel free to pick some more daring earrings, like dangling chains or jeweled chandeliers. Again, for an office party, keep the cleavage to a minimum and the skirt hems at knee-length.
For a simpler modern look, try something like this:
Keep: white tunic, blazer
Add: dark-wash jeans, fun metallic or colored heels, red waist cincher, a statement necklace or earrings
Look for: well-fitting even-wash jeans, unique accessories
Avoid: tight, light-wash, or whiskered jeans
This might be my favorite outfit in the set: a red belt over a white tunic with the black blazer unbuttoned over it. Okay, that’s mostly based on the fact that the belt is the most amazing thing ever, but still, I think this is a pretty good look. Since the actual outfit is fairly simple, you can have a lot more fun with the accessories: metallic strappy heels, big jeweled bib necklaces, chandelier earrings, a unique clutch, etc. This outfit is another one that could spend most of the day at work, then get spruced up for the party by adding the belt, jewelry, and shoes.
For these less conservative looks, you can also have a bit more fun with your makeup. A smoky eye with red lips will look awesome with the second outfit, while a small amount of a trendy eyeshadow (think purple or a metallic neutral) might be fun with the first outfit. You could even try a colored eyeliner – plum or navy are safe places to start.
Okay, time to dive into some seriously trendy looks:
Keep: skirt or pants
Add: off-the-shoulder or embellished tops, bold jewelry, unique heels or booties
Look for: non-traditional color schemes, trend motifs like feathers, sequins, or colorblocking
Avoid: anything that wasn’t in Vogue this month
This is where we branch away from your safe, standard office-party look and get geared up for some New Years mayhem. Or, who knows, maybe your family throws some holiday parties with the staff of Vogue in attendance. At any rate, these ain’t your momma’s holiday party outfits.
This look works with the bottom half of your everyday work outfit – the next look will keep the top half. For these looks, you’ll have to be careful not to go overboard. Too many textures and colors might freak out the other guests, and you don’t want that. If you pick a single-color top like the two in the middle, feel free to wear some more exciting jewelry, like a long chain or bib necklace, and carry a more daring glittery metallic clutch. If you have an embellished top like the outer two, try to stick with simpler jewelry, like hoop earrings and a silver cuff or bangles. Personally I’d advise against carrying a sparkly clutch with a sparkly top – insert joke about my commitment to sparkle motion here – but in the right setting, you could probably get away with head-to-toe glitter.
Another thing you can do to keep a trendy look from getting out-of-hand is to wear more classically stylish shoes instead of the hottest styles. Try sophisticated black booties or heels with a subtle twist, like these lasercut leather peeptoes.
The last look is both a tamer on-trend outfit and a stylish upgrade to Modern Classic #2:
Keep: tunic, long blazer
Add: leggings, black waist cincher belt, boots, silver jewelry, colorful clutch
Look for: bold jewelry, well-made leggings (preferably jeggings)
Avoid: cheap leggings, over-the-top boots
I was anti-leggings for a long time. Then I tried on a pair of nice, thick black jeggings at Maurices (they have a fly and everything!) and my life changed. I still think there are a few rules to follow when wearing leggings – the main one being they are not pants, so please don’t show your tush in them – but on the whole I think they’re a great, flexible fashion option.
Anyone watch “What Not To Wear?” How many times have you heard Stacy use the phrase “add a pop of color?” Try that out with this look. Put together a stunning monochromatic ensemble of trendy pieces (leggings, boots, a boyfriend blazer) and add a colorful, one-of-a-kind clutch that will act as a focal point for the outfit. Keep it classy, though – you could get away with wearing this for an office party, so try not to look like you’re out for a night at the club. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get quality accessories that still look sharp and sophisticated.
You can be a lot more experimental with your makeup with these trendier looks. Try that red lipstick again, but this time do a slightly bolder smoky eye, with strong black liner – maybe even a cat-eye effect. If you don’t like red but still want a bold lip, pick another dark shade in the wine and burgundy family. Or stick with a more gentle nude or berry lip and try one of the season’s fashionable eye shadows: metallic greens, copper, or purples.
So now you’ve hopefully gotten a few ideas for how to morph your previously-existing wardrobe into stunning, stylish holiday attire. Inspired yet? I am – now I just need to get invited to a couple parties.