How to Shop Your Closet: Holiday Party Edition

holiday party
The time between the end of fall and the beginning of the holiday season seems to fly by exponentially fast. Granted, stores start reminding us around Halloween with their festive displays and holiday music, but with work and life, it’s easy to wake up and suddenly realize that it’s December! My gift list always seems long, and by the time I’m done shopping, there’s not much left over for a new holiday look. But with a little knowledge of the latest trends and a creative eye, it’s not too hard to find a new look right in your own closet. Choosing one or two of the latest trends and picking your clothes and accessories accordingly, you can show up to all of your holiday events looking dazzling without hurting your wallet.

Try the Trends

Velvet, leather and lace were all over the runways for the Fall 2012 shows during New York Fashion Week, which makes them perfect for holiday party outfits. While you probably don’t have all of these in your closet, think on a smaller scale: a lace camisole, a velvet top or a leather skirt can all work. You’ll be on trend while standing out from the crowd at the party. But remember, you don’t want to have trend overload. so choose one or two of these fabrics to keep your look festive rather than freaky. And remember, sequins (in moderation) are always a holiday hit.

Complementary Colors

While different fabrics might be hard to find in your closet, this season’s colors are probably close at hand. Burgundy, midnight blue, olive, red and white are all popular this season. That’s right–white! The days of not wearing white after Labor Day are long gone, and fashion houses have embraced white for the fall and winter this year. Holiday parties tend to be filled with black and other dark outfits, so wearing a bright white dress is a great way to make a statement. If the dress is more summery, pairing it with opaque black tights and a burgundy or dark blue jacket can help it transition to winter. Plus, since a white outfit is essentially a blank canvas, it gives you more options when it comes to accessorizing, making your entire look even better. Top it off with an animal print scarf or flats, and your look will be on point.


Accessories have the power to make or break an outfit, and if you want to add new life to pieces you’ve worn countless times and have a hard time imagining in a new context, accessories are worth considering. Bigger, jeweled pieces like necklaces and bracelets really pop next to solid colors. Even if you don’t have these accessories in your closet, a small investment at a store like Forever 21 can go a long way.

Another accessory worth considering is a collar. Collars – think shirt collar, not dog collar – have grown in popularity recently and for good reason. Collars come in all different styles, ranging from romantic, white lace to edgy, studded black, and they jazz up your neckline and outfit considerably, and jump out more than a regular necklace does. Wear a metallic gold collar with a black dress to infuse some light into a classic look, or add an embellished collar to a white blouse paired with a long black skirt to add some edge. A collar is another small investment that’s a great way to keep up with the latest trends while putting a fun new twist on an old garment.

When in Doubt

Even more important than what you’re wearing is how you feel in your holiday look. Don’t follow these tips just for the sake of being trendy; if you feel uncomfortable, you won’t have a good time! When in doubt, don your favorite LBD, and treat yourself to a sparkly manicure! If you’re feeling more daring, sport trendy burgundy on your lips. Burgundy is a dramatic color that will add some pop to your look (imagine a burgundy lip with a white dress) and will draw attention to your face, so you and other people at the party will be less concerned about the blouse that you’re wearing again and more focused on how refined you look. You’ll feel like you–only better! 

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for Washington University in St. Louis’ @WashULaw, a top-tier Master of Law program in U.S. law, as well as a contributor to the LLM guide. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.

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