It is always helpful when a host prints the expected mode of dress on the invitation, but with holiday invitations stating “Festive Holiday Attire” and “Holiday Chic” it’s not always easy to decipher exactly what that means.
Some invitation clues can help you decide what type of dress is expected. What’s the occasion? What time of day is the party? What’s the location? How many guests? Is it an evening cocktail party at a five-star hotel or drinks and appetizers at your neighbor’s home. Is it formal or informal?
If an invitation states “Festive Holiday Attire”, here are some guidelines:
For Women: Add a bit of holiday color and sparkle or beading to your outfit. Nice black pants or simple black skirt with a red silk blouse or cashmere sweater or sweater set, nice dressy flats or pull out chic pumps. No out-of-season shoes, totally out-of-style, over worn or dated shoes – hear Jimmy Choo calling you and go shopping, it’s a party you’re going to! Use the time of the party to guide you as to how dressed-up or dressed down you should be. No chipped or dirty nails, go bare and buffed nails if time doesn’t permit new polish. No overdone makeup, hair accessories or jewelry (nothing that clinks). (Dress from Boston Proper)
For Men: Add some holiday color to your shirt – a deep burgundy or dark forest green, nice dark dress pants (usually stay away from khakis or light colors). It’s a party, wear something besides jeans, but dark well-pressed perfect jeans if you think they are appropriate. Nice leather shoes, no thick rubber soled clunkers – think GQ, and dark socks (cover the calf), maybe red or green holiday pattern depending on the time and location of the party. For evening and for warmth, wear a nice sport coat and leave the large cable knit sweaters in your closet. (Entire look from Men’s Wearhouse – wear burgundy shirt instead of white shown for a holiday touch.)
Fashion Faux Pas: Always make sure your clothes are clean and pressed – no worn, frayed, faded or stains anywhere. No missing buttons, unraveling anywhere or broken zippers. Make sure you are comfortable – ladies, can you sit down, bend over, reach for the appetizers without a wardrobe malfunction? Nothing too slinky or sexy, no straps or underwear showing, you might have to see these people at work on Monday.
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Creative Black Tie Formal and Black Tie Festive
Black Tie Optional
Informal / Semi-formal / After Five
Cocktail Attire and Cocktail Attire Festive
Resort Attire and Evening Resort Attire
Fashion Faux Pas to Avoid