The New Rules Of Holiday-Party Dressing, According To Vera Wang

This holiday season, nine out of 10 Americans* will wreck their bedrooms panic-trying-on party looks before resigning themselves to last year’s dress, given a once-over with the lint roller as they beg their ride-share drivers not to leave yet. Don’t be like them.

Instead, when your festive-‘fit ideas feel about as stale as a gingerbread house on January 1, open your mind to a fresher approach — one that also saves you from having to deal with the aftermath of an F4 indoor tornado. With fashion-forward Simply Vera Vera Wang pieces and vital intel from Vera Wang herself, we’ve put together three modern, coolest-girl-in-the-room looks, featuring unconventional layering, pro accessorizing, and even a few big-picture styling ideas for some macro-level inspiration. So while you might still want to hang on to the aforementioned lint roller for extracting stray fuzz from your bell-sleeve puffer or lace-hem dress — worn under a swingy turtleneck — at least you’ll no longer have to be that quick (or stressed out) about it.

*Believable but unproven statistic made up for demonstrative purposes only.

Photographed by Mikey Asanin.

Photographed by Mikey Asanin.

Jackets Are Outerwear — But Treat Them Like Accessories

You asked for black velvet, the fabric of the season, and you got it. But here, its light-attracting properties have been rendered as a wide-legged jumpsuit instead of the stock-standard dress. Tie everything together with an obi-inspired belt, drop earrings that could double as personal disco balls, and — wait for it — a lightweight puffer. Huh? Sure, a marshmallowy jacket might read more streetwear than soiree, but what better way to surprise and delight than with a genre mix? Plus, Wang says, you get the added benefit of temperature control, necessary when going from the frigid outdoors to a sweltering event space and back again.

“Puffers are so light and easy,” says the designer, who calls herself “an outerwear collector.” “You can even wear a little sexy slip dress and feel comfortable outside and party indoors.”

And if the climate is somewhere between polar and tropical, you can adjust accordingly by draping your puffer over your shoulders or zipping it up partway and pushing the top down for an off-the-shoulder effect. Saves you from having to wait for coat check, too.

Don’t Underestimate The Transformative Power Of Non-Puffer Accessories Either

Sometimes you just don’t feel like going out. But during the holidays, there’s a bit more emphasis than usual on keeping plans — social pressure that might make you pray for a freak nor’easter so you can skip your 18th Secret Santa exchange of the month. So how do you dress when you’re obligated to show, but you’d rather stay in pajamas or track pants? Behold, the Big Three of two-minute party dressing, according to Wang: jewelry, handbags, and makeup.

Wang says she’s a fan of earrings in particular, like the high-shine chandelier styles shown in the top-most image, for going (however sluggishly) from couch to cocktails like that. Add a chain-handle frame bag for structure — you need an element with a stronger shape to play against the slouchier silhouette of the clothes — and pay a bit more attention to your hair and makeup to inject more polish. (You can devote the time you would have spent picking out a new outfit to creating a glossy winged eye and sleek center part.) And if you’re feeling a bit chilly, “Faux fur looks fabulous and adds texture to any look in cold weather,” Wang says. We’re sure we have a stole laying around somewhere…

Try The One Thing Vera Wang Wants To See More Of This Holiday Season (!!!)

It’s an unexpected one. “I like layering,” Wang says. “Dresses over skirts or pants, or skirts over pants, look easy and modern.” Or try a sweater over a dress to make a trompe-l’oeil skirt, like we’ve done here: A chunky cowl-neck worn over a midi-length dress adds warmth and creates interest by showing off the delicate lace hem. This is also a great opportunity to mix and match textures, either by pairing knits, as we’ve done with the second sweater-and-skirt look, or by contrasting warmer and cooler fabrics (satin and wool, for example).

Photographed by Mikey Asanin.

Photographed by Mikey Asanin.

Consider What You’ll Be Doing, Not Just Where You’re Going

When you’re planning an outfit for a night out, the normal thought process begins and ends with the weather forecast and your itinerary for the evening (and maybe who you’re going to see, if we’re being honest). But Wang brings up another factor that’s less often considered: what you’re going to do once you’ve arrived. Here, your eye might be drawn to the tinsel-y sweater and tall boot first, but it’s really what’s in between that’s the star: As Wang says, “Feminine but cool pleated skirts create movement.” Intricate folds, fluid fabrics, and dangly embellishments: These emphasize every shimmy and step so that you don’t just walk into a party — you make an entrance.

Whatever You Do, Make It Your Own

Or as Wang says, “Be yourself.” Just as the season makes social demands of us, it perpetuates certain sartorial clichés that can be subverted — if you want to. Wear trousers instead of a little black dress. Or wear an LBD — but under an oversized sweater. Wear all black — with variety in texture, it’s just as festive as red and green. Above all — and Wang says this is what she’s planning to do this holiday season — wear what makes you comfortable. Guess we’re staying in PJs then.

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