The Party Dress Code
By: Sharon Mosley
You may think you’ve got enough clothes to see you through any and all of those holiday events, but when the invitations start arriving, decoding the dress code can be daunting and haunt you for weeks. Is this too formal? Too buttoned up? Too casual?
Jill Martin and Dana Ravich, style experts and authors of “I Have Nothing to Wear,” admit that there is an easy way to dress appropriately for any festive occasion this holiday season.
“Know your audience,” they say. “Next to knowing yourself, knowing your audience may well be the most important consideration when picking your outfit, or anything else for that matter.”
Martin and Ravich encourage partygoers to consider who, where and when. The venue, time and date of the party, and guest list will play a large role in determining the fashion environment.
The two fashion stylists decode the party dress code for several different types of “styles” — the classic, the bohemian, the preppy girl, the fashionista, the surfer chick and the soccer mom.
Here are their takes on dressing the part for a holiday cocktail party:
—The Classic. If you’re a classic, perhaps you’ll choose a sleeveless crew dress that hits just above or below the knee. You might also have a structured clutch and you might choose your pumps. A bit more conservative, but that’s just your style. Add your diamond studs and your watch and you’ll be set.
—The Bohemian. If you’re a bohemian, you might choose a flowing dress with some sort of detail or maybe a halter neckline. You will probably choose the metallic sandals and a clutch that is softer and might have some beading or some other detail. Just don’t go overboard with the details on both the dress and the purse. Choose one. For jewelry, put on your armful of bangles, and add some hoop earrings to dress it up.
—The Preppy Girl. Your dress might be a short-sleeve or three-quarter sleeve number that is a little on the shorter side. You might also choose the more conservative pumps over the sandals. Your clutch will have a bit more structure and a conservative slant. Your pearl necklace and earrings will be a perfect complement to your look.
—The Fashionista. You will have the latest in all things dress and accessories. If the trend is an asymmetric neckline, rest assured, that is the LBD (Little Black Dress) you will be wearing. Your strappy sandals will be right on trend as well, most definitely a stiletto heel. Or try a pair of trendy ankle boots. Your clutch will follow suit, as it will fall under the “it” category. And, of course, so will your jewelry. Cocktail rings are all the rage? Check. You know better than to wear a necklace with an asymmetric neckline. But perhaps some fabulous earrings will do the trick.
—The Surfer Chick. You will prefer something soft and feminine to show off your toned frame, perhaps a spaghetti-strap dress that hits just above the knee. You might choose your metallic sandals, and you, too, will have a less structured clutch. Choose your chunky silver ring and perhaps your small earrings.
—The Soccer Mom. You might go for a wrap dress — sexy, yet elegant and appropriate. You might choose to dress it up with your sandals, and try to fit all your things into a structured metallic clutch. We know it’s been a while since you’ve carried a purse so tiny! Add a pretty necklace to accentuate the V-neck created by the wrap and you’re complete.
Martin and Ravich suggest showing off what flatters you the most and makes you feel most confident. “Great legs? Go a bit shorter. Great waist? Try a wrap dress or something fitted or belted. Great arms? Strapless, sleeveless or spaghetti straps. Want to camouflage your hips? Go for an A-line.”
And if you can’t decode the party code all by yourself? Call in the reinforcements! Ask a friend … a very good friend … for advice. They are usually more than willing to help.