In partnership with Miu Miu

How to Dress for a Holiday Party Based on Your Mood

In partnership with Miu Miu

Getting dressed for holiday parties has historically been my most challenging annual sartorial expedition because what I want to wear fluctuates wildly depending on what kind of persona I want to adopt on the evening in question. Do I want to be my slinkiest self, the kind of guest who sips bourbon cocktails in a corner while whispering sweet somethings into the ears of a few good friends and doesn’t feel the need to look at her phone once? Do I want to be a walking conversation starter by virtue of my outfit, an aesthetic wildcard, an introverted extrovert who knows all the words to every song? Do I want to be home in bed even though I’m at a party instead, decked out in whatever wardrobe trappings happened to feel like armor when I surveyed my closet at the beginning of the night?

Over time, I’ve noticed these stylistic manifestations of the holiday party personas I gravitate toward align with particular colors and textures, and once that revelation clicked inside my brain, getting dressed started getting a lot easier. It meant I could match my mood to the specific clothes and accessories that enhance it. Scroll down to see what I mean, as illustrated by a shoot shot in partnership with Miu Miu.

If I Want to Be My Slinkiest Self…I Break Out the Sparkle

If I had to distill what it means to look slinky in a sartorial sense, I would say it indicates a strong capacity to mesmerize. When I’m eager to tap into that mindset, I wear a holiday party outfit with baked-in captivation — and nothing captivates more than sparkle. It can be subtle, too, and still do just the trick: a black dress with star-spangled straps, a glittery-collared bomber jacket, a belt bag with rhinestone tassels that dance when you move, a headband that catches the light like melting icicles. If you can rummage a twinkle in your eye as well, it wouldn’t hurt.

If I Want to Be a Walking Conversation Starter…I Break Out the Leopard

Animal print is often a better icebreaker than any verbal question you can think of on the spot (pun intended), and leopard happens to be tailor-made for holiday party season outfit fare. Whenever I’m in the mood to skip the small talk and dive right into the good stuff (i.e., How’s your mind? How’s your heart?), I treat leopard like a neutral and douse myself in as much as possible for the ultimate purpose of showing people what the insides of my brain looks like in hopes that they will show me theirs. Separately but not unrelated, I’m pretty sure a coordinating skirt and cardigan is the most refreshing twist on cocktail-appropriate suiting since sliced bread, and speaking of bread, don’t forget the condiments! A matching purse, festive sunglasses and hot pink stiletto sandals are ideal flavor boosters.

If I Want to Be Home in Bed Even Though I’m Not… I Break Out the Velvet

Given that wearing velvet is the closest outfit equivalent there is to snuggling up under your covers and it just so happens to be a prime ingredient for holiday party season ensembles, I leverage it for winter nights when I’m going out and want to look glamorous but also still channel the desire to swaddle myself in something cozy. A velvet dress is ideal, but when worn in companion with a velvet clutch, it’s a next-level experience. Top the whole thing off with an oversize sweater and I guarantee you’ll never think cool and comfy are mutually exclusive ever again.

And there you have it: the official sparkles/leopard/velvet holiday party philosophy. Let me know if you’re a new subscriber.

Photographed by Edith Young at Bill’s Townhouse. Modeled by Elizabeth Lo Priore of State Management. Makeup and hair by Morgan Leigh

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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