What to wear to the holiday party: 13 Style Panel tips for mixing up your look this season

How to dress for the holiday party Style Panel
Middle: Photography by Matthew Burditt Right: Photography by Petter Chatterton

Ah, what to wear to the holiday party. It’s one of our most common refrains this season, and yet, never ceases to puzzle. As we juggle an ever-surmounting social schedule of cocktail parties, dinners and the like, falling back into the fail-safe LBD can be tempting. We’re here to take you away from the typical and get you going with some out of the box inspiration.

Channeling the holiday literally with red and green is always fun, but why not go the extra mile and blend those hues with high fashion flair? You can be flirty and feminine or even grungy glam if you please. So whether you’ll be a host, attend a glitzy affair at work or be entertained by family or friends, we’re challenging you to be unexpected just like the holiday style ninjas that make up our Style Panel.

Schooling us on the art of mixing and matching sequins, stripes and metallics is Lyndsey Forest of Over My Styled Body while Jen Tam of Her Waise Choice rocks a Topshop jumpsuit that is sure to make her the flyest hostess when she entertains guests at her annual party. Showing that one can never be too dressed up during the holidays is Cara McLeay of A Fashion Love Affair who is stunning in a BCBG Max Azria maxi dress.

So consider what to wear to the holiday party your next great adventure, not challenge.

Question 80: Party style! What’s your look going to be this holiday season? Read the answers now! »

ALYSSA LAU, EDMONTON | AMBER DESILETS, LONDON | BARBARA ANN SOLOMON, TORONTO | BECKY KUNG, CALGARY | CARA MCLEAY, VANCOUVER | IVA GRBESIC, TORONTO | JEN TAM, VANCOUVER | LEAH GUST, TORONTO | LYNDSEY FOREST, EDMONTON | MO HANDAHU, HALIFAX | NICOLE WILSON, TORONTO | SANDY JOE KARPETZ, EDMONTON | VICKIE LALIOTIS, EDMONTON

How to dress for the holiday party Alyssaa Lau

Alyssa Lau, 20
London, ON | The Ordinary Peoples

Aside from the typical red and green hues that are everywhere around this time of the year, try wearing gold (a lot of it or a subtle amount will do). For this holiday look, I’ve opted for Nicole Campre’s golden oversized jacket to keep me warm and festive.

Alyssa’s wearing: T-shirt and jacket, Nicole Campre. Heels, Gianvito Rossi. Pants, Front Row Shop. Sunglasses, ZeroUV

How to dress for the holiday party Jen Tam
Photography by Matthew Burditt

Jen Tam, 23
Vancouver | Her Waise Choice

I throw a holiday party every year, and this Christmas I’ll be dressed to impress in this statement jumpsuit. It’s an unexpected choice, and the jewel tones are perfect for the season.

Jen’s wearing: Jumpsuit and Necklace, Topshop. Shoes, Call It Spring. Clutch, Thrift Shop. Rings, Zara

How to dress for the holiday party Cara McLeay

Cara McLeay, 28
Vancouver | A Fashion Love Affair

During the Holidays, you can really go all out – You can’t be “too dressed up,” because that is what it is all about! Whether you are headed to a cocktail party or a Holiday Gala, pull out that piece that you have been dying to wear, but haven’t had the right occasion to do so…for me, that is definitely maxi dresses!

Cara’s wearing: Dress, BCBG Max Azria. Necklace, Jennifer Zeuner. Bag, Chanel

How to dress for the holiday party Nicole Wilson

Nicole Wilson, 29
Toronto | Dainty Girl

When it comes to holiday parties, there are a few flavours: family, friends, work and more. For family affairs, I tend to go a little more casual and for my fashionable friends, I’d wear something a little more fun, like a sparkly sequin embellished dress or metallic shorts with tights. I also have various corporate holiday functions to attend so I thought I’d share my professional take on holiday style this time around.

It’s always safe to wear a sheath or A-line dress, but I opted for a chic and cozy striped sweater pencil skirt and a unique cape blouse for my office party look. It’s an elegant yet trendy look in black and white with a pop of holiday red in my clutch and some sparkly statement jewellery.

Nicole’s wearing: Skirt, Ann Taylor. Blouse, Rachel Sin. Shoes, Le Chateau. Clutch, Ela. Jewellery, Rebekah Price Designs

How to dress for the holiday party Sandy Joe Karpetz

Sandy Joe Karpetz, 25
Edmonton | The Pretty Secrets

Nothing says ‘party’ like sequins and glitter. This year I’m toning down the accessories and turning up the separates. I’ve paired a black sequin top with silk brocade trousers and added a subtle clutch with matching heels. Separates can be the most versatile and effective pieces for the holidays; you can mix and match straight through to New Year’s.

Sandy Joe’s wearing: Sequin top, trousers and earrings, Vintage. Clutch, Yves St Laurent. Shoes, Zara

How to dress for the holiday party Leah Gust
Photography by Petter Chatterton

Leah Gust, 31
Toronto | Leah Says’

I like a sophisticated look with a bit of raw edge for the holiday, so I layered up on tough accessories like studded shoes, an oversized clutch and stacked rings to keep the look from being too sweet.

Leah’s wearing: Skirt, Zara. Shoes and top, H&M. Necklaces, Joe Fresh. Clutch, Winners. Rings, Forever 21. Socks, Topshop

How to dress for the holiday party Amber Desilets

Amber Desilets, 30
London, ON | Canadian Fashionista

I took these black faux leather pants from H&M, but any black pair of pants will do, put on my favourite white blouse with gold button details, we all have a white dress shirt in our closet, added a pop of colour in this stunning fuchsia jacket and toped it off with some rose gold accessories and shoes to add a little festive sparkle to the outfit.

Amber’s wearing: Blouse, Smart Set. Necklace, The Bay. Clutch, Aldo. Jacket, The Gap. Pants, H&M. Shoes, Call It Spring

How to dress for the holiday party Lyndsey Forest

Lyndsey Forest, 23
Edmonton | Over My Styled Body

You know it’s officially the holidays when Christmas parties are in full swing! From formal evenings to the always-cheeky ugly Christmas sweater party, there is a celebration for all different types of attire this season. But living in Canada with up to 20cm of snow at times, rocking a short little party dress isn’t always an option. So why not try switching up your look for the holiday’s and trying something new?! A jumpsuit or some statement-making bottoms are a super fun alternative to the same old same old. And while everyone is wearing their favourite LBD’s, your stellar dance moves won’t be the only thing catching people’s attention this year. Party on fashionistas!

Lyndsey’s wearing: Sequin Pants, Nasty Gal. Top, Forever 21. Jacket and heels, Zara. Clutch, Kate Spade

How to dress for the holiday party Mo Handahu
Photography by Assa Cisse

Mo Handahu, 29
Halifax | Lion Hunter

When the holidays approach I look forward to creating looks that are easy on the pocket but with a little flair that helps me stand out from other party goers. I created a look that is easy to transition into for that after work get together. By throwing on a peplum top, the basic burgundy dress is given another life. My white strappy heels are always a great conversation starter and for my piece de resistance I strayed from my usual red pout and wore a dark vamped up lip for a little mystery. That coupled with the ox blood leather jacket for an edgy holiday look.

Mo’s wearing: Dress and top, H&M. Shoes, Shoedazzle. Jacket, Value Village

How to dress for the holiday party Iva Grbesic

Iva Grbesic, 37
Toronto | Falling In Style

The holiday season is busy and I wouldn’t want it any other way! Between work parties, family parties and parties with friends what’s a girl to wear? For this challenge I decided to do separates – sequin pencil skirt & an updated peplum top. The best part? These items where on sale during Black Friday and cost less than $100 combined. If you have lots of events my biggest piece of advice is to shop the sales. Get to know the sales staff at your favourite boutiques – they will let you know when they are expecting big sales and even put your purchases aside.

Another advantage of selecting separates is that you can mix and match them with pieces you already have in your closet and increase your wear. Basic black goes a long way – for example, for this season pairing the skirt or top with white items you already own creates outfits that are on trend without breaking the bank. The holiday season should be fun and shouldn’t have to cost you a fortune. Thankfully you’ll still look like you broke the bank.

Iva’s wearing: Top, Club Monaco. Skirt, Express. Shoes, Jimmy Choo. Clutch, Shoppers Drug Mart. Cuff, Zara

Photography by Andrew Tarver

Vickie Laliotis, 28
Edmonton | Adventures in Fashion

When it comes to holiday dressing, my approach is feminine and flirty. This year, I splurged on a fabulous shimmering dress and saved on the accessories.

Vickie’s wearing: Dress, Loft 82. Shoes and bracelet, Forever 21

How to dress for the holiday party Becky Kung

Becky Kung, 30
Calgary | Velvet & Vino

I always look forward to an evening of getting glamoured up in my go-to little black dress paired with a substantial heel.

On the contrary, there’s something magical about changing-up the standard evening outfit by rocking a pair of simple vintage-wash denim jeans and basic t-shirt, in a winning combination with the statement sequins jacket. I opt for simple jewellery with this outfit to allow the sequins blazer to pop! This outfit is perfectly suited for an evening cocktail party that’s less formal and more creative.

Becky’s wearing: Blazer, T.J. Maxx by Parker. Jeans, Mavi. T-Shirt, Old Navy. Necklace, Joanna Bisley Designs. Bracelet, Bauble Bar. Hand-Clutch, unknown (gifted)

How to dress for the holiday party Barbara Ann Solomon
Photography by Trevor Negin

Barbara Ann Solomon, 25
Toronto | Barbara Ann’s Style Blog

Party season is upon us, with my first holiday party this Thursday! With so many events around this time of the year, you have to start planning early and head into the season with a plan. My holiday look for 2013 is all about glitz and glam, but with truly basic shapes and while looking effortlessly chic. Seems like a hard task, but it’s really about toning down accent pieces. When Isabel Marant launched her line for H&M I knew I’d find something perfect for an evening out celebrating. This silk, metallic dress is a little bit sexy and by wearing ankle boots instead of heels, I feel, it tones down the formalness and brings the dress back to its French roots.

Barbara Ann’s wearing: Dress, Isabel Marant pour H&M. Boots, Ecote. Earrings, Vintage