Holiday fashions for every occasion

Holiday fashions for every occasion

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Nothing shouts holiday like a look-at-me red dress... but should you wear it to every party? (©iStockphoto.com/Rebecca Ellis) Nothing shouts holiday like a look-at-me red dress... but should you wear it to every party? (©iStockphoto.com/Rebecca Ellis)
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By Karen Brailsford

Whether you're wondering if you can sneak out of that office party early without the boss noticing or if you should bring your new beau to the family dinner where he'll be roasted and grilled, you'll stave off the season's stress if you look as luminous as holiday lights when you do make your appearance.

Event: The work soiree
Holiday Fashion:
Cocktail couture
Seasonal Snafu to Avoid:
Too bare, too tight, too short -- too, too much!

Simplicity and grace are key when it comes to choosing an outfit that strikes the right note -- one that won't have your co-workers sounding the alarm for the fashion police -- when you mix and mingle with your colleagues. Think simple and elegant. Whether the party takes place in the office corridor or at a swanky bar, the trick is in the transition. Rather than schlep an entirely different outfit into the office so you can morph like Cinderella when the clock strikes 5 p.m., break out the party-flavored accessories. A little black dress serves as the perfect canvas for oversized cocktail rings, chandelier earrings that glitter like tree ornaments, metallic heels and sparkly clutches containing your favorite nighttime (read: brightly colored) lipstick.

Event: The holiday ball
Holiday Fashion:
Classy couture
Seasonal Snafus to Avoid
: Cliched red or green floor-sweeping gowns, bridesmaid dresses

Nothing shouts holiday like a look-at-me red dress. For understated elegance, reach for texture married with unexpected color in a body-hugging silhouette. Lace is always lovely, and you can't go wrong with classic black. But why not try a deep blue, purple or gold instead? These sumptuous hues are more festive and a celebratory break from your everyday wardrobe shades. You can amp up velvet by ditching the black for plum, navy or even white. Radiating white heat at a holiday party will cause the entire room to sparkle. For true holiday sizzle, however, break with tradition entirely. The trendy holiday color pairing of the moment is turquoise with white, or take a cue from designer Catherine Malandrino, who favors tropical orange and yellow.

Event: The family affair
Holiday Fashion: Kin couture
Seasonal Snafus to Avoid:
The reindeer sweater your aunt gave you last year for a holiday gift, casual bordering on "who cares?"

If you're expecting the meal will play like a scene from Home for the Holidays, you might as well make sure you look your best -- the better to stave off backhanded compliments from relatives you only see once a year. If you can't part with your favorite skinny jeans for the day, pair them with heels and a satin blouse or a sweater in sensuous cashmere. Another easy combo: a jewel-toned blouse and tailored trousers. You will have dressed up for the occasion without underdressing or overdressing.

Event: The DIY shindig
Holiday Fashion:
Comfort couture
Seasonal Snafus to Avoid:
Prepping the meal in your holiday outfit, toe-pinching shoes, indecorous decolletage

As the holiday hostess, you're going to want to be as comfortable as possible since you'll spend much of the party running back and forth to check the oven and tend to your guests. Once you've prepared the food, change into your holiday look -- soft, wide-legged pants made from velour or any other drapey fabric, and a sleeveless blouse in gold, bronze or silver. Or, consider bohemian loungewear: a caftan dress befitting uberstylist Rachel Zoe cinched with a thick gleaming belt. You'll look, to quote the fashionista, "bananas."

Karen Brailsford is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered style for People, In Touch Weekly and MyStyle.com.

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