Out with a bang: Look fabulous as you ring in the new year

Hey there, fashionistas! Sorry for the hiatus! I’ve been a busy gal the last couple of months with a new job and planning a wedding, but I am happy to report that I am back! That being said, let’s jump right into this month’s column…

Let’s talk about something that needs discussing – festive cocktail attire. When it comes to certain dress codes, there can be gray areas. I feel like cocktail attire, in general, is one of them. Cocktail attire is all about individuality. While it takes a little more effort than the other dress codes, choosing this particular cocktail attire doesn’t have to be like choosing a college major.

When selecting an outfit for an event, I personally tend to lean a bit more to the fancier side than the casual side. This is partly because my mother has repeatedly told me that showing up to an event overdressed is better than showing up under-dressed. Hindsight being 20/20, I am glad I can look back at photos of past events I have attended and not cringe at my outfit selections (Thanks, Mom!)

As always with my columns, these are my opinions. I am by no means demanding anyone stick to these rules or guidelines on how to dress. Afterall, the way you dress should be individualistic and true to who you are.

So, what are the do’s and don’ts of festive cocktail attire? Let’s take a look…

For the ladies:

Ball gowns are not required. While the idea of walking into a beautifully decorated event space in a ballgown seems like something out of a Disney princess movie, it’s just not practical for a cocktail attire event. Leave the gown at home and opt for a dress that hits at the knee or slightly above. There’s nothing wrong with going for a colorful dress or one in a fun pattern, just make sure you don’t miss the mark with the theme. For example, you wouldn’t wear a cocktail dress with a palm tree print to a New Year’s Eve event. Sequins are almost always a hit at a festive cocktail party. If dresses aren’t your thing, you can always rock a snazzy jumpsuit or romper. The same goes for shoes. Reach for something fun and sassy, but make sure you don’t miss the mark with the theme. Don’t be afraid to play with your hairand makeup, either! Your jewelry should reflect the theme of the party, but also stick with your outfit. Don’t be afraid to reach for something a bit more extravagant and eye-catching.

Chandelier earrings, statement necklaces and dazzling bracelet stacks are all acceptable accessories. After all, this is a time for festive fun!

Should you find yourself in a panic, have no fear. A Little Black Dress ALWAYS works.

For the fellas:

Don’t let the ladies have all of the fun! While there is nothing wrong with sticking to traditional cocktail attire (i.e. something you would wear to a wedding) don’t be afraid to go outside of the box with festive cocktail attire.

Instead of reaching for the gray suit, opt for something with a bit more color. If you’re looking to have fun with your outfit but not make a huge statement, you can always go with a suit in a more subtle color. For example, wearing a deep emerald green suit instead of the traditional gray, black, or navy.

If you’re not sold on the thought of walking around in a head-to-toe festive suit, you can always switch out the jacket and shoes to something a bit more fun and festive. If you’re wearing a tie, feel free to choose one in a fun color and/or pattern. Both bow ties and longer ties will suffice for festive cocktail attire events. Just make sure whatever route you go, your belt, jacket, shoes (and tie—if you’re wearing one) match. Otherwise, your outfit will go from festive to flop in an instant.

And there you have it! A quick guide to festive cocktail attire. Should you find yourself in a pickle when selecting your outfit for the evening, stick with what you know and jazz it up where you see fit. Don’t be afraid to make a statement, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!


Carly Gustafson is the Fashion editor at Signature Magazine. She loves sequins and dressing up for festive cocktail events.