Master a signature party style for your holiday soirees

This white, sleeveless blouse and black cigarette pants combo from Ann Taylor is party perfect (AP Photo).

‘Tis the season for formal wear.

From the work Christmas party to your annual New Year’s Eve soiree, December is packed with reasons to break out your favorite little black dress or sparkly number.

But there’s a lot of choices — both in your closet and at your go-to dress shop. Do you choose understated elegance or go big on the bling for these events?

We asked our Smart fashion bloggers: What’s your signature holiday party style?

Brittany Wilson

Brittany Wilson: While a little black dress can go a long way — I wear one to almost every formal occasion — the holidays call for a little more pizazz.

For a formal Christmas party, I might stick with the LBD (or go with this ruched, strapless dress in plum from Calvin Klein — the ruching can help hide any tummy you are sporting after holiday feasts), but pair it with a pair of fun, glitzy shoes like these from Ivanka Trump, or a statement necklace.

This cashmere cardigan offsets a black sequin miniskirt from Ann Taylor. (AP Photo)

But if you go for glitter and glam with one accessory, cool it with the others.

You don’t need your shoes, jewelry and purse competing for the spotlight.

For New Year’s Eve, opt for a metallic that complements your skin tone.

I like this one-shoulder, silver Grecian-inspired dress from Express.

Pair it with simple black pumps, a cocktail ring and post earrings for a fun, but classy look.

April Trotter

April Trotter: A few years back, I bought the perfect little black dress for my first fancy office Christmas party. With an elegant ballerina neckline, timeless pencil-skirt styled bottom and fun satin bow detail at the waist, it’s been great for dressy occasions ever since.

But this is one LBD that’s hard to dress down. Unless I’m hitting up a five-star restaurant or a formal evening wedding this holiday season, it will probably stay in the back of my closet.

These days, I’m all about buying pieces that I can dress up for a night on the town but also wear under a cardigan and with a pair of flats for the office.

One recent find that will probably make an appearance this month is this 3/4-sleeve J.Crew Factory Banded Shift Dress, marked down to $59.50. The viridian green is a fun pop of color on bleak winter days. It can be dressed up with a pair of heels and a chunky necklace for evening wear, but the wool blend and longer sleeves will keep you toasty at your desk when paired with a printed scarf, sweater tights and riding boots (freezing offices are a universal problem, right?).

For New Year’s Eve, I have my eye on Anthropologie’s Intarsia Dotted Sweater Dress, $148, once the perfect coupon arrives in my email, of course. The cute and cozy dress can easily transition from a nice dinner with friends to drinks downtown with little fuss.

A simple black cardigan, tights and Nine West ankle booties, marked down to $59.99, would complete the look that will no doubt make an early 2013 office appearance.

Ashley May

Ashley May: When I’m shopping for a holiday event, I try not to go overboard looking for something with holiday-specific designs. I want to buy something classic and timeless that won’t get just one wear.

Also, living in the northeast, I try to keep the weather in mind. If I’m going to have to stomp through the snow in this outfit, I might opt for high boots to go with that dress. And always, I think about a blazer or sweater add-on.

My signature holiday style is avoiding red and green everything.

This season, I’m really into gold. If you heading to a formal party, check out the Pepper Metallic Cocktail Dress from BCBG Maxazria, $338. I’d recommend pairing this with a white blazer (I like the Candice Jacket from BCBG, $208).

But, if you really want to sparkle, do it with black. I’m in love with the Royal Shineness Dress at Free People, $188. It’s form-fitting, sexy and has a lovely cutout detailing on each shoulder.

For something more casual and warm, toss on the Suss Frequent Stripe Cardigan Sweater on Piperlime, $369.

I also really like the comfy classic look of the Diane von Furstenberg ‘Paryse’ Sequin Silk Sweater at Nordstrom, $325.

Submit your question:
Every Wednesday, the stylish ladies of Smart magazine will answer beauty and fashion questions. Have a question? Email

April Trotter

Editor of Smart. NEPA transplant. Penn State and Shippensburg grad. Kickball and craft beer enthusiast. Collector of cardigans. "Bennie and the Jets" fanatic. Contact me at, at "Smart magazine" on Facebook, @SmartMagPA on Twitter or by phone at 717-771-2030.

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