You've received a holiday party invitation with a dress code that reads something like "Festive Attire" or "Cocktail Attire" and you panic wondering what to wear to this special occasion this holiday season. Remember that normally if people request a certain dress code it is to reflect the ambiance and elegance of the affair. You want to put your best foot forward and be dressed impeccably to convey your sense of style and sophistication.
Here are a few of my tips to help you step out in style this holiday season and help you interpret the various dress code guidelines:
An invitation that reads "cocktail attire" implies a sophisticated, elegant and fashionable attire is requested. For women, a great short and sassy cocktail style dress is always in order. You don't need to wear a long formal dress to a cocktail party – but short dresses are always appropriate. Remember the girls from Sex and the City? They were always going to a cocktail party in their short, swingy dresses made out of a beautiful fabric like chiffon or silk and accessorized with their great sparkly handbag and strappy sandals.
For men, this look calls for a suit to match the dressy ensemble of the female's attire. A dark suit worn with a light dress shirt and a dark tie will have high contrast and appear more formal.
This type of dress code is usually on invitations around the holidays. I interpret this type of dress as being informal but with a bit of holiday sparkle and glamour. When you are requested to attend in a festive attire, the host does not want to see black as the dominant color. For women try a sparkly jacket, sweater or a claret red or emerald green silk blouse worn with a black pair of trousers or a skirt. With this ensemble, you could wear sparkly sandals for some evening glitz. Men could wear a suit with a red tie or a red/gold geometric tie if the event is held in a formal environment. If the party is a bit more casual they might wear a red zip-front sweater with a dress shirt worn underneath the sweater and dress trousers. Remember when shopping for this type of party, think festive and dressy.
This type of invitation calls for a dressed-up look but with a casual feel. Women could wear a dressy pant suit or a modern jacket with a pair of dress slacks. Men should feel very comfortable wearing a sport coat and a dress shirt. This look needs to be the highest level of business casual which is just one level down from formal business attire.