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Party Dressing Without the Dress: Three Fresh Holiday Style Ideas

Illustrations by <a href="http://www.illustrationweb.com/artists/Miminne/view">Miminne</a> for Racked
Illustrations by Miminne for Racked

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Holiday party invites are trickling in, and we've got three ideas for what to wear beyond the standard-issue party dress. Consider this your winter event dressing road map, and follow along as we traverse a family dinner, an ex run-in, and a party-to-after-party scenario without any whisper of fit-and-flare.

The pieces: A cozy, cropped sweater; dramatic, pleated maxi skirt; low-maintenance but feminine party loafers (a thing, trust); crinkle metallic clutch.
Why it works: The dramatic length and movement of the pleated maxi skirt is tempered by a casual sweater and flat shoes. To throw a little bit of holiday spirit into the mix, a gilded bag serves as the confetti in an otherwise chill sitch. Perfect for family dinners or house parties whose invite details a signature cocktail (read: not a rager).
What to buy: Sweater: Chelsea28 ($78); Rachel Pally ($178); Skirt: Topshop ($70); Tess Giberson ($695); Clutch: Marie Turnor ($195); 3.1 Phillip Lim ($395); Flats: Ted Baker ($185); Jimmy Choo ($500).

The pieces: A tuxedo blazer with girl-friendly tailoring; cropped trousers; a silk v-neck tank; block heel pumps; a suede crossbody with a completely superfluous metal tassel.
Why it works: This is just simple feminine/masculine ratio management. For each part "borrowed from the boys" (tuxedo, trousers) add one part "unapologetically feminine" (v-neck, heels) and don't let any gender studies courses muddy your mind while you do so. Pull it all together with accessories that are plain badass: a metal tassel that moves when you do and a block heel to make mingling on your feet all night very do-able. A great revenge-sexy look for those unavoidable social engagements where you know your ex will be, and you look fly as hell in the sexiest rendition of a bonafide tux.
What to buy: Blazer: Topshop ($110); Smythe ($595); Blouse: Joie ($138); Theory ($235); Trousers: River Island ($76); Helmut Lang ($265); Bag: ASOS ($95); Saint Laurent ($1,850); Pumps: Pilcro ($158); Loeffler Randall ($325).

The pieces: A sleek jumpsuit; glossy clutch; d'orsay pumps.
Why it works: This '70s thing seems to be picking up steam—might as well buckle and throw on a jumpsuit (they're actually pretty versatile if you play your layers right). d'Orsay heels are cut out at the instep which make your legs look hella long (kind of an essential element in pulling off that jumpsuit) and a glossy clutch adds a punch of slickness. This is your look for sophisticated affairs that might tip into after-party territory. Just don't drink too much—a jumpsuit-plus-bathroom trip is an exercise in coordination, and you're in heels!
What to buy: Jumpsuit: Dorothy Perkins ($110); Trina Turk ($378); Clutch: ASOS ($35); Marni ($1,020); Heels: Jeffrey Campbell ($155); Tory Burch ($275).