The top 10 dos and don’ts for holiday outfits

Stumped on what to wear for the holidays? From ugly Christmas sweaters to sequins galore, our experts break down the top 10 dos and don’ts of festive dressing.

women at Christmas party


Do add some shine

“Whether you go with metallics, sequins or a shimmering texture, a little bit of shine is an easy way to give any holiday look a luxe finish,” according to Los Angeles-based fashion designer Karen Kane. However, be careful not to overdo it. “Wearing head-to-toe sparkly attire will make you look outdated and seem like you’re trying too hard,” points out New Jersey-based celebrity wardrobe stylist Christie Maruka. “Keep it simple by wearing one fashionable seasonal piece. If opting for an all-out glam sequined dress, use minimal accessories and a great basic high heel and you’re all set!”


Don’t go overboard with the holiday theme

While a good Christmas sweater can be super festive and funny (think light up trees and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), celebrity stylist Joey Tierney advises saving it for a theme party. “Always try to keep it classy,” she says. If you do want to try to rock one though, the sweater should be fitted, current and simple (like the silhouette of a reindeer or a branch of holly perhaps), recommends Adam Clancy, Director of Operations at And by all means, steer clear of any and all gaudy holiday-themed jewelry! “A lot of girls nowadays are going with chic two tone pastel color jewelry for the holiday season,” notes Scott Davis, Stylist and Founder “These work well, especially with bright dresses.”


Do try something new

“The holiday season is the perfect time to get festive and step outside of your comfort zone with sequins, embellishments or a bold print,” says Derek Guillemette, Director of Ready To Wear at Rent the Runway. But remember, there’s no need to break the bank. “Renting your holiday looks allows you to try out trends without the commitment.” You can also dig deep inside your closet and pull out some textiles and colors and wear them in a new way, suggests personal stylist Tiffany Wendel. “Just don’t go out and buy something new. That’s how you wind up with three women in the same dress at one party!”


Don’t be afraid to rock your fancy dresses for day

Maximize the wear of a cocktail dress by pairing it with some opaque tights and a black blazer during the day, recommends Alison Goodman with the Scottsdale Quarter. “Alternatively, you can pair your party dress with a denim jacket or your party top with jeans to create casual daytime shine; add heels and a black cardigan for evening,” says Ann Walter, Fashion Director of Dots.


Do mix and match different metals

Shine bright this season by mixing and matching silver and gold accessories, urges ModCloth ModStylist Chelsey. “The contrast of the two metals is fun, fabulous and classic for the holidays.” Rose gold is also a sophisticated metal that can bring in more color and complement almost any holiday outfit, adds Elaine Russell, founder and CEO of fine jewelry site Heirlume.


Don’t dress provocatively for office parties

By no means should you use the office holiday party as an opportunity to wear clothing that is too provocative. “For instance, a tight body con dress is not the best choice,” warns fashion blogger Naima Turner of “Instead, consider wearing an A-line dress with lace details, a colorful pair of opaque tights, a fabulous shoe and a chic clutch. Keep it professional with a slight twist,” she suggests. And please do go easy on those cleavage-baring tops and thigh high boots. After all, you may get attention you don’t want, cautions relationship expert and author April Masini of


Do embrace untraditional holiday colors

Red and green are great and all, but why not try a rich navy, cobalt blue or even nude or gray? “These colors are unexpected and can be very elegant,” points out Erica Cook, owner of Chicago contemporary clothing boutique Trillium. “Plus, they’re appropriate for Christmas, New Year’s or another function (wedding, gala, night on the town) at a different time of year.”


Don’t be so matchy-matchy

There’s nothing more yawn inducing than a matching head-to-toe outfit. So forget what your mother told you when you were little, and avoid color coordinating your entire look, says fashion blogger Jaynie Hayward of Thirteen Lip Prints. “It may come as a bit of a shock but it’s so much easier to pick out an outfit. Be you and you will never have to worry about going to a holiday party praying you aren’t wearing the same outfit as another girl there.”


Do invest in a gorgeous dress coat

It’s a shame to have to cover up your totally fabulous party dress. However, as Adam Clancy explains, it’s the middle of December and baby, it’s cold out! “Keep yourself warm and still stylish with a classic trench, a pretty princess coat or a chic cape. Think timelessly feminine,” he advises.


Don’t neglect your feet

You’re bound to be breaking it down on the dance floor this season, which is why it’s so important to invest in a great pair of shoes that are comfortable, not just a pair of hot heels, warns Masini. “Consider gel inserts for those holiday parties that kick the butt of dawn!”

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